Why the Word Passion Has Lost Its Meaning & What We Can Do About It

To my wonderful readers.

I was in quite a dramatic mood when I first wrote this post and it was initially called ‘Passion Is Dead, Long Live Passion.’ It’s something I feel strongly about.

Lately I have been trapped by this feeling that a desperate, confused, sort of indifference, is creeping over the online business world.  That the passion that once drove businesses is turning into something else. Something a little bit more diluted.

I lie awake at night thinking about it. You might even say, it’s something I feel passionately about.

But when I write that and when you read that, when I say ‘I feel passionately about this’ – do you believe me?

From that description ‘I feel passionately about this’, do you imagine me tossing and turning at night thinking about it? Do you see me getting ink all over my bed sheets as I scribble down ideas about it at 2am? Do you feel the obsessive drive?


What Is Passion?



We’re all guilty of misusing the word passion.

On many cover letters in my life I have written,” I am passionate about X, Y and Z.”

One of the last jobs I applied for had this sentence:

“I am passionate about finding international students safe, clean and friendly accommodation in areas where they will be welcomed into the community.”

I am not passionate about this.

Immediately I can hear many of you jump up in anger. What do you mean you don’t care about international students having clean accommodation? What do you mean you are in not interested in whether they are welcome in the community?

What kind of cold monster are you?

And this is where the problem lies.

Because of its overuse, the meaning of ‘passionate’ has been watered down to lesser things. We interchangeably use it to describe being interested in something, a hobby, to care about something, to be compelled to take action.

I care deeply about international students being welcomed into this country. I have a deep anger about the appalling things some landlords get away with.

I have volunteered my time to help charities who deal with housing issues. I have an interest in the state of affordable housing in this country; it’s something I read about in my spare time. I specialized in property during my post-graduate.

I am more than happy to support charities and do my part.

I am not passionate about it.

I do not lie awake at night losing sleep over it. I do think about it most hours in the day. If I could no longer read, think or act on my feelings about housing – I would not change as a person.

And this for me is the key about being ‘passionate’.


Passion Is What Makes Us


The things we are passionate about are what makes us…well, us. 

That if we took that bit of our personality away, if we could no longer pursue that passion – we would no longer be us.

I think about if I suddenly lost interest in writing. If I never again had the desire to write a single word, I would not feel ‘right’. There would be something profoundly wrong with me. Writing is essential to me as breathing. My self- worth, my self-image, the way I think, it’s hard wired into my DNA.

At Hay Festival this year I was lucky enough to be working in the tent Jo Malone was speaking in.


The Story of Jo Malone



I’ll be honest, I don’t own any Jo Malone products and I probably wouldn’t have brought a ticket to see her. As it happens, I ended up seeing a good chunk of her talk and I was blown away.

For those who don’t know, Jo Malone makes perfume – among other things.

She was in her mid-thirties when Estée Lauder  came along and made her an offer for her business, which she accepted. She stayed on as a creative director.

Then came the battle with breast cancer.

I won’t go into all the ins and outs of Jo Malone’s story, not because it isn’t worth talking about, or it isn’t exceptionally inspiring – but simply because I can’t do it the justice it deserves in this small space. I encourage you to read her incredible story here.

The small part of her impressive story that I want to focus on was her decision to leave the Jo Malone brand entirely. More specifically, when she left the company, she was required to sign a standard non-compete which prevented her from entering the industry for five years.

She was so miserable that she became ill with anxiety, the mental block on her creativity translated into physical problems so profound that she even lost her sense of smell. A crucial part of her personality, not just for business, but integral to her entirely unique way of perceiving the world – using her sense of smell as a crutch to help her navigate life (something she struggled with initially, due to her dyslexia).

Only when the five year restraint was over did creativity finally come back to her – inspiring her to make a new scent and re-join the business world.

I really haven’t done her journey justice but I hope you get the sense of just how fundamental to her life her business was. Not just the business itself, the staff, the family, the brand. But the actual process of creating and creativity that was so fundamental to her being, she physically suffered without it.

That is passion.


Why the Word Passionate Has Lost Its Meaning pin


This Is Passion


I and, indeed, many other business coaches, harp on about ‘passion’. Make money from your passion, how to turn your passion into a business, find you niche by focusing on your passion.

We use the word so much (with entirely good intentions); I feel (although I certainly can’t speak for others) that we might be doing you a disservice, my dear readers.

Can you turn something that you are not passionate about into a business? Well sure. Nothing is impossible but more than likely, it’s going to be a struggle.

Without passion, it’s hard to be original.

Without being original, you are just a poor copy of what came before you.Click To Tweet

Without passion, when you struggle, when sales dip, when social media stagnates – what motivates you to go on?

We say you should start a business to get away from that 9-5 you hate, to bring in a little extra money to support your family, to be able to spend more time doing what you want to do, to be able to work from beaches around the world. All good reasons.

But without the passion for what you do. It’s going to be a struggle.

So, if you are starting a business, do the very best thing you can do for your business.


Just Do It



Do something you are passionate about.

Something that you think about at night, in the day, in the shower, over breakfast.

Something that you do every day, something you make time for even when you have more pressing commitments, something that if you can’t find the time to do, you feel worse for it.

Do something that is you. That you are proud of. That you love.


Passion is dead, long live Passion.