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Passion and Persistance Can Be Overrated

I’m worried. I spoke yesterday at SpeakerLunch in Corvallis, an interested and interesting group of people, looking at starting and running businesses. New businesses, small businesses, and so on. They call it speed mentoring. Bring in a speaker once a month, over lunch, talk about it.

My problem this morning is the overuse of the three Ps of passion, persistence, and perseverance.

The question of the economy came up, towards the end of the session. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was about the wisdom of sticking with it during tough times, or starting a business during an extreme recession, or something like that.

Which reminded me that in the world of entrepreneurship a lot of old guys (like me) give people pep talks about passion, persistence, and perseverance. As if the key to business success were just sticking to it, no matter what. Good times or bad, the entrepreneur, we seem to think, is driven to success. My business above all.

What worries me about this is that it’s too damn easy for the people on the podium to preach about sticking to it, and sometimes passion and those other Ps are misplaced.

I love the idea of starting business and entrepreneurship and all, but not at all costs. I am not advocating passion to the point of obsession; and particularly not getting so far down into the business, bad times or not, that you think of nothing else, and lose relationships.

Life is more important than business. Keep your balance. Keep your priorities straight.

These are tough times. Plan well. Be smart. Think it through. Don’t bet the farm unnecessarily, and certainly not just because some old guy says you have to have passion and be persistent.


  • Tara Robinson says:

    Hi Tim,

    I was in your audience in Corvallis yesterday. First, thanks so much for joining us–it was a great talk! Second, thanks so much for your candor. It was refreshing, and a bit comforting, to hear you talk about how you got through the tough times with your business. You left me with the feeling that I can make it, too.

    On this post specifically, I could not agree more. It's like that counts and life is short.

    Peace and best wishes (and thanks again!)

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