Passion has over 10 definitions, ranging from intense emotions of fondness and enthusiasm to act upon external factors. Used interchangeably with purpose in personal development and business, passion in itself does not equal success. Instead earned passion is much a bigger ball game.

♞ Why Passion is Overrated

passion led us here

Derived from Latin origins meaning to ‘suffer’ or ‘submit’, passion’s definition evolved, becoming a buzz word with modern platitudes of “Go live your passion!” Being passionate about something is important, however it is not enough to sustain success.

Recall your childhood or a child you know who eagerly picks up a hobby. Let’s say baseball. And next week the child loses interest and moves on to basketball or car racing. Is it because the child wasn’t passionate about baseball? No, they were really keen about it. Is it just because children are fickle? Not entirely.

Extrapolate this out and you’ll find that many of us still exhibit this in adulthood. Hire someone who seems overly passionate about a cause or company? Someone who’s initially extremely passionate about you in a relationship? A person who appears utmost ready to deliver but falls short?

The problem isn’t about being passionate. It’s that this passion is unearned, and doesn’t derive from an intrinsic level of purpose.

♞ The Difference with Earned Passion

earned workEarned passion grows with progress.

It takes novelty to be passionate about something but true passion exists with seeing something through. People who are initially overly passionate tend to be dabblers; they have unearned passion. When something loses its shine they go off and chase the next shiny thing.

Earned passion means establishing a relationship with the end goal. You’re able to see your vision day in day out no matter what. You are dedicated to a cause and do so because you want to, not because you have to. Circumstances may change, but successes are celebrated and the trough of sorrow is managed because you believe in a greater purpose.  

It also means understanding that the benefit; the outcome you get for working hard is worth its weight in gold in long term. Rather than seeking initial passion, earned passion is enduring investment. This means not giving up at the first point of challenge.

Making friends with challenge means belief + action differentiates you from quitters who give up because things become “too hard”. This doesn’t mean stubbornly sitting with a sunken ship. But persevering through measured observation and taking necessary steps to actualise your goal.

Experiences with the Two Passions

reflectionAs CEO of Profound Performance Scott Mautz said, “Motivation is the pragmatic consequence of inspiration. It becomes the galvanising energy to a vision and the ability to run with it.” He notes that this true passion is from “…spotting the difference between passion and compulsion”

Through my corporate career and Reintention I’ve witnessed both sides of passion.  Experimenting with new courses, groups and people, I’ve noted that many people will “jump” into projects, startups, blogs (…) and stop after two weeks, a month 6 months…Likewise others will commit day in day out, and endure tough times. The difference between these two types of people isn’t that either wasn’t passionate. It was the former weren’t tied to a greater reason. So when things got tough, they gave up. It was easier to be paralysed with inaction, that to do.

As George Lakoff and Mark Johnsen state in “Metaphors We Live By“, the language we use directly correlates to the actions we take in life; leading to self-fulfilling prophecies. If passion means to simultaneously experience ardor and suffering, it’s probably why we lose interest the moment things get tough. Working with earned purpose means removing the paradox and broadening the scope in which we achieve.


  1. “Earned passion means establishing a relationship with the end goal.” I loved that. It is aligned with my core coaching value. Clients start a lot of things passionately, relationships, businesses or even coaching. They however are fuzzy about end goals and the potential suffering that inevitably arises in the pursuit of any passion. Working through to success often erodes the initial passion. Getting them to establish a relationship with the end goal is key to defining purpose and building tenacity in pursuit of any goal. Thanks for posting.

    • Trinh Pham Reply

      Hi Allison,
      I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I definitely agree. It’s easy to get caught up in the initial passion or “infatuation” with something – whether it’d be a person, a job, a skill or idea that we lose sight of what we’re trying to achieve. It’s much easier to give up than to see something through. That’s why it’s vital to “begin with the end in mind” and actualise the steps to achieving and understanding the “why” of every goal.

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