Billionaire tech entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban offered a great tidbit of advice on his blog, blogmaverick.com last week. That advice “Don’t Follow Your Passion, Follow Your Effort”.
Now to many people this may seem a bit absurd. But if you’ve ever watched Mark in action on Shark Tank this season, or on his guest appearances in season two than you may agree with this advice. Religious watchers of the ABC reality show about startups and pitches have seen one too many “entrepreneurs” leave the shark tank in tears because their passion didn’t transcend to a true business model.
“Mr. Wonderful” Kevin O’Leary is usually the first shark with his jaws open asking the entrepreneurs “That’s great, where’s your sales”. On episode after episode you’ll see people turning out new versions of the snuggie, useless kitchen gadgets and one of my favorites a pet food remedy that the veterinarian promised would prolong a pets life without any data to back it up. The one common thread in many of these unsuccessful pitches was passion.
More after the break
Cuban says that “Follow your passion” could easily be the worst advice you’ll ever get or give.
Instead he suggests following your effort. Effort is usually a good indicator of what your true inner passions are. Cuban offers these tips
1. When you work hard at something you become good at it.
2. When you become good at doing something, you will enjoy it more.
3. When you enjoy doing something, there is a very good chance you will become passionate or more passionate about it
4. When you are good at something, passionate and work even harder to excel and be the best at it, good things happen.
If you follow his logic it really makes a lot of sense. We see startups all the time. We can easily recognize start ups that actually work but may not be for us. We can also see start ups and shake our heads and think, really? While there are many out there that won’t agree with Cuban’s philosophy he suggests that if you really want to know where your destiny lies you need to look at where you apply your time.
Sure there are some people out there who have been successful in following their dreams and have led them to careers as singers, athletes, distinguished scientists and even the occasional business owner. But even most of the most successful business owners didn’t set out to be “entrepreneurs”.
Their passions, and their dreams may have been a vehicle to get them there but not necessarily the vehicle for which their entire career path was set. Cuban didn’t wake up when he was five or even ten years old and say I’m going to be the owner of the Dallas Mavericks.
One really good case study for this philosophy would be Steve Jobs. Anyone who’s watched the life of Steve Jobs through books and other media knows that he actually set out on a long journey to find himself and what he really wanted to do. As Cuban points out in the advice above, Jobs found something he was good at, marketing, design and reading consumers, because that was what consumed his time and his effort he became very good at it, a master if you will, and with that he became passionate about it.