THE TRUE COST OF PASSION

by Kim Faulkner 1 October 2018

When brand marketeers or management gurus talk about “Brand Value”, they often leave out the flip side of it, which is the true cost of building a great business or brand.

In this age of shared wisdom and business transformation, inspirational quotes on the value of “loving what you do” abound. And so many of us believe these quotes because they are words uttered by people who should know better than us — and presumably have “lived the dream”.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
– Confucius

“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
– Marc Anthony

As someone who has been an invested entrepreneur and brand consultant for most of my adult working life, I can say hand on heart, that doing what you love does NOT mean you'll “never have to work a day in your life”. On the contrary, it means you'll be expending a huge amount of energy, resource and mind-space on it.

Passion is costly. I don't say this to disparage the spirit of what Confucius or Marc Anthony meant, but to point out that caring about what you do, makes it difficult to strike that “work-life balance” (another truism) that we are asked to aspire to. When “you love what you do”, you’ll be mentally and emotionally doing it, day and night. That isn’t to say you don't have other priorities in your life, but it does mean a constant juggling act that can be physically and emotionally exhausting.

So what does this mean for entrepreneurs and brand builders?

#1: ACCEPT THE GOOD WITH THE BAD

Direct that passion and energy where it counts; and that means continuously focusing on the shifting landscape and what it means for the business/ brand; investing in the science, as well as, the art of the business or brand; thinking innovatively and being brutally honest about the output. This is hard work and requires discipline and focus.

But “Loving what you do” also means doing things that you don't love. If “the devil is in the details” then the grind and grunt-work matters, and needs to get done right.

#2: “DOING WHAT YOU LOVE” IS A CONTINUUM, SO THERE ARE NO BOUNDARIES

Just as you never know when you will have an “AHA!” moment — an insight or idea that will tip the balance, your business and brand will always be ticking away at the back of your mind wherever you go and whatever you're doing.

This means the proverbial “9–5 job” would not exist for you and this can be hard for the people around you. But you will learn to multi-task and multi-think like never before — the neuroplasticity of our brains makes it possible!

#3: STRATEGY AND CREATIVITY ARE PERSONAL

As a consultant, the work we do is often about someone else's brand or business, but it doesn’t make it any less personal. The blood, sweat and tears that go into every project we work on, is driven by the same activist passion that we put into the firm. We define ACTIVISM as “A sense that something is not right, and the courage to make a difference”; so if we truly believe that we can make any sort of difference, then we have to care inordinately about what we are doing.

As consultants we have often been asked to let go of a bold idea in place of a more pedestrian option for political expediency. When we have resisted it has never been about pride but more a conviction that changing the status quo will always be hard; and the litmus test of the desire for organisational excellence is "how much is it really worth to you?". 

Someone once said, "The opposite of LOVE is not HATE, but INDIFFERENCE". In that vein, indifference is the only way not to take what you do personally.

So the next time someone quotes Confucius or Marc Anthony to you, don't think that just because you're doing something you love, you're going to love everything you're doing, but do expect all of the above, because that's when you will truly make the difference you seek through your enterprise and brand.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim has over 30 years of branding, marketing and design experience in Asia and has lectured and written extensively on the subject of branding, strategy development, marketing and design across the region.