Don’t Follow Your Passion, Follow Your Effort — Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban is best known as the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He is also a series regular on the hit reality TV series, Shark Tank. I’ve been a follower of Mark Cuban for a while for his business acumen and captivating personality. One of my favorite weekend pastimes is to watch Mark Cuban tech talks and speeches. Recently I was watching a Mark Cuban talk, and he offered advice that he would give to any aspiring entrepreneur.
“Don’t follow your passions, follow your efforts.” He said.
Don’t follow your passions? That is contrary to all of the self-help junk I have learned in my life. So often when I ask successful individuals for advice that is the first thing that they say, “follow your passion.” Remarkably few people that I have learned from have achieved the level of success that Mark Cuban has, something inside of me couldn’t just denounce his words of wisdom. I had to figure out what he meant and come to a fair conclusion.
I’ve wrestled with this lesson for some time now, but I think I have a conclusion worth sharing. In life, we have what I’d like to call: The Three P’s.
Practice. Passion & Purpose.
For each of us to live a meaningful life, it is imperative that we understand the difference between the three and govern our lives accordingly.
Our practices are what we do daily. These are the skills and habits that we possess innately with minimal effort. These practices we fulfill may not be rewarding or something we are passionate about, it is just a natural skill. For me, I’m good at resume writing and getting internships. During my time at Morehouse, it took minimal effort for me to navigate a career fair efficiently and get a job. While in undergrad I interned every summer at dope companies. This practice of securing an internship wasn’t tricky. I would show up in my best business clothes, do my thing, and leave landing a solid impression.
To be honest, I hated going to career fairs; looking back on the situation I even hated being an intern. The entire practice of obtaining an internship was something I was good at not necessarily fulfilled by or loved. Practice fails, because although it is compelling and something we are good at it, it is not necessarily rewarding.
Our passions are the things we are obsessed with and think of daily. We as humans are wired to be passionate; it is in our DNA. There are always going to be things we love to do, that we dream about achieving. These passions change and may be centered in zeal. I’m very passionate about singing. Singing and performing is all I ever think about doing. I can say with certainty that I am passionate about singing.
It is also safe to say that I’m not a good singer. My passion for singing doesn’t compel me to take voice lessons or perform at open mics. It’s merely a passion, nothing more. Where passion fails is that it can be exciting or cool but not necessarily compelling. Passions can also be deceiving as we may not be good at the thing we are necessarily passionate about.
The purpose of our lives is what we are born to do. It is the thing that we are passionate about and compelled to practice simultaneously. Purpose is the duality of practice and passion. It is the thing that no one has to wake us up to do; it is the thing that we do on our own without thinking about the time we spend doing it. My purpose is to tell stories and inspire those around me.
Whether I’m telling a story in a conversation, blog or book, storytelling is why I believe I was born. I spend hours on end, researching ways to become a better storyteller and crafting stories. This blog is intended not to make money or bask in my ego, but to be a creative medium where I can express my purpose. Nothing makes me come more alive than telling a good story. My purpose is compelling and fulfilling. I have natural skills that make me a great storyteller and I work to get better at it because I love it so much.
To live a fulfilled life it must be centered in purpose. We are only here on earth for a short period. None of us have the luxury of spending our time doing something regularly because we are “good” at it. We can’t spend our days imagining how our lives would pan out if we lived out passionate dreams. It is important to get about finding our purpose, the thing we do without instruction and enjoy doing it. Living a purpose driven life is a life well lived.
I hope that after reading this blog, you begin to become more fully self-aware and evaluate what your purpose is. I can say with clarity that living a life centered in purpose is a life I want to live.