Do What You're Good At and the Money Will Follow
There’s a well-worn line of thought in entrepreneurial circles that suggests that if do what you love, the money will come.
This one phrase has probably done more to hold business owners back from discovering their greatness than anything else I can imagine.
Not only is untrue it’s terribly limiting and painfully shortsighted.
The thing that simply trying to find work you love ignores is that most work is hard, particularly when it involves doing something you aren’t that good at.
Passion and purpose in work isn’t something you can simply identify and then go do, it evolves as you actually do it.
I’ve written a new book called The Commitment Engine, due out next month, and in it I spend a great deal of time suggesting that you do indeed need to pursue work you enjoy, but if you want the money, purpose and passion to come, you have to get really, really good at doing work you love.
In fact, in my experience you won’t really enjoy any work until you get good at it, so in some sense you must work very hard at getting good at some part of the work you do in order to find what you might be passionate doing.
And then once you gain some true sense of passion, proficiency and purpose, you can finally start to labor at turning your work into a craft.
You do this by continuously studying, practicing and stretching.
In business you can’t ever stop studying, it just must be on your to do list somewhere. This includes reading some combination of about 50 books a year, subscribing to and scanning 100 or so blogs and selectively attending conferences to gain exposure to new and bigger ideas.
I believe that you find purpose and passion in work by coming to recognize patterns – patterns in your own thinking, patterns in what customers want and need, patterns in how winning products and services are created, patterns in successful business models, patterns in compelling stories – consuming content, especially content and ideas from outside your industry is how you get very good at pattern recognition.
Further Reading – The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander
Business people always just perform, the rarely practice, particularly after they develop a level of competence. Speakers that rise to the highest fees practice far more than they perform. They participate in groups that push them and offer feedback, they have every aspect of their speech picked apart and reconstructed, they learn how to find and tell better stories, they hire coaches and they stand in front of the mirror and rehearse hour upon hour for a 30 minute presentation.
So, what does intentional practice look like in your business? How do you get better at your craft? How do figure out where you are, where you’re weak and where you can excel?
Further Reading – So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
This is perhaps that place where excellence and proficiency, passion and passing part most. Those who discover work they truly love and then stretch far beyond their comfort level at every turn are those that stand that greatest chance of following their passion and finding the money.
Once you get “good” at what you love, you need to find a way to push yourself back out where you are terribly uncomfortable again or you’ll stop growing. Again, I believe this is the place where far too many people give and settle because this can be a pretty scary place.
See, once we get good at something, we tend to enjoy it more, so now I’m suggesting that you must deliberately make it hard again.
Almost everyone wants to write a book, so what’s the difference between wanting to write a book and writing a book? To me, the answer isn’t as simple as it may appear. The difference between those two things can consist of layers and layers of studying and practicing, but the key distinction is stretching – writing your first book is simply the act of doing something you’ve never done, no matter how prepared you may feel at the outset.
Further Reading – The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
So, my real advice today is suggest that you stop searching so hard for passion and purpose and go to work at something you enjoy doing, get really good at something in and process and let passion and purpose find you.