Why less passion is better for business.

I just googled ‘Passion in Business’ and came up with 82,900,000 hits. And, according to the first several pages of hits, everyone says that you must have passion to succeed in business. ‘Fuel your passion’ is the watchword.

Why this quest for passion? Of course, passion can feel wonderful, but do you really need it to succeed in business? What happens when you don’t have it? Surprisingly, your business can do better with less passion. Why?

To understand, you have to get past the gobble-gobble-gobble of everyone who says you’re doomed if you don’t fuel your passion to see the deeper spiritual truths that are in motion. But first, what in the heck IS passion?

According to the dictionary:

Passion: a powerful emotion or appetite, such as love, joy, hatred, anger or greed.

Plus, the word evidently originally comes from the Latin “passus” which is the past participle of “pati” meaning ‘to suffer.’ It began to be used more widely in the Western world when the Catholic Church used it to describe Jesus’ sufferings on the cross: the passion of Christ.

Do you get it? ‘Passion’ is just another way to say ‘strong emotional appetite.’ And depending on strong emotional appetites for too long, even if they start out by feeling really good, tends to end in… suffering.

I want to let you know that you don’t really need to fuel your passion to succeed. Many times when I hear someone talk about ‘fueling their passion’ they’re really talking about what I call the ‘honeymoon’ syndrome.

You see, when two people newly fall in love with each other, they’re in the throes of the ‘honeymoon’- they want to be around each other all the time, they can’t get enough of each other. Their emotions and pheromones are going crazy- they’re insatiable. It lasts a few months, or, at most, a year.

Boy the honeymoon is fun. And it can help set the stage for a wonderful long-term relationship. But if you’re depending on those crazy honeymoon emotions and appetites to make it to your 50th anniversary… well, all I can say is, I wish you luck.

Your business is no honeymoon.

Your business, in order to stand the test of time, and to grow into something that can carry you, provide for you, and shelter you, needs to get beyond the ‘passion-only’ honeymoon stage.

Recently one of the participants in my marketing class was experiencing some very strong fear and overwhelm. That’s passion- but not helpful for the business. She had been busy chasing certain business outcomes, and the fear about it was too much. I recently went through a similar spin.

Both she and I had switched over to the passion/appetite fuel, and it was burning us up. We had to switch back to the only fuel that lasts for the long term.

What is that fuel? And how do you switch?

Keys to Reining Your Passion

• Love is the fuel- passion is the derivative.

There is a Sufi teaching: “Know that the human has a quality that has no end to it, and this is covetousness, and because the human is forever seeking, this is a quality that is derivative of love… Love causes seeking…”

Covetousness is the passion-driven (read: appetite-driven) derivative of love, and it just ain’t as good as the original. Begin to notice in yourself the difference between your heart’s longing for love, and your ego coveting more money, or more clients. Take a moment now- can you feel the difference in your own body?

• Put your ego on a starvation diet.

If you can tell the difference between love and covetousness, now keep one and throw out the other. Put off feeding your coveting hunger- for a minute, an hour, a day. This is the wisdom behind the spiritual practice of fasting- abstaining from material sustenance. This abstaining weakens your ego’s hunger, and strengthens your heart’s contentment.

Don’t believe me? Try it out. You don’t have to do a 40-day retreat in the desert- even just try skipping a meal. Or even simpler: noticing a hunger you have, and spending time with that hunger, instead of feeding it. What happens for you?

• Now, apply it to your business.

Instead of focusing on what you want- more money, a bigger business- put those appetites aside. Instead, take a moment with your heart and ask ‘What is your heart truly longing for?’

Once you get an answer to that question, ask your heart another one: ‘How can your business support this longing?’ Let yourself be willing to be surprised. And let me know what comes up for you.