Passion ain’t all it’s cracked up to be

by Craig McBreen · 48 comments · Branding

What’s the secret to spreading influence, acquiring loyal tribe members and making more than a dent in this third rock from the sun?

Some would have you believe it’s all so simple, and is based on discovering that craving deep inside you.

But many are led on a futile “passion” search, bringing on feelings of defeat. If we’re not enamored by something. If we don’t have a calling, we feel inadequate as mere cogs in an ever-turning monster of a wheel.

I’m not so sure Edison, Tesla or the Wright brothers had passion running through their veins 24/7, but they did possess an unyielding pursuit of something that would ultimately benefit their fellow mortals.

So, don’t get so tripped-up trying to find your passion.

Instead, hunker down and think about mission. Finding how you want to add YOUR contribution in your own little way.

What about YOUR world? Your blog? Your business? Your pursuit of the craft?

How do you bring it and make that brand stick?

It’s impossible to maintain intense love of anything each and every day. I think you would agree with that, yes?

But if you have a purpose, an end-goal and a road map to get there, that’s all the swag you need.


Well, look at it this way: It’s NOT about you.

It’s not about being famous or making your mark.

It is about what you will do for others.

And guess what? You DO need passion. Loving what you do is important, but “mission” makes it oh, so special.

And value infused with focus, tenacity and endurance is some red hot sauce indeed, my friend.

To make a difference. To grow a business. To ultimately do your part and make it count, sure, you need to love the work. Passions are great, but without the work nothing ever comes to fruition. And without purpose you’re a rudderless ship.

Go back to your core. Your reason. Your values.

How are you unique and in what uncommon way can you contribute?

What is your part? Do you know it? If not, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate.

If you’re following others you’re going down the wrong track.

If you’re looking for rewards, money or recognition you will be sorely disappointed.

Find your own unique path.

Give discomfort a giant bear hug.

Believe and just get busy.

What are you going to do today, tomorrow, next week to make “it” move?

Those baby steps are the only way.

Think of this as your gift to others. A way to spread influence. Then you won’t have to go looking for passion, it will find you.

And guess what?
Your uniqueness. Your value. Your purpose. These things are ultimately stickier than Catchmaster fly tape. Because contribution is king.

Today is day one. Let ‘er rip. You only have so many days on this pale blue dot of ours, so make them count.

Is passion overrated?

Drop some wisdom in the comments below and let me know what you think.


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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Thompson July 23, 2012 at 4:15 am

most important part:

How are you unique and in what uncommon way can you contribute?

that’s the one. that’s the question. that’s the art.
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Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 2:39 am

Hi Brian,

You are correct, Sir! Bring us that something special.



Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC) July 23, 2012 at 7:36 am

Nice post Craig – reminds me of the Howard Thurman quote: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Marie Ennis-O’Connor (@JBBC) recently posted..Motivation MondayMy Profile


Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 2:40 am

Hi Marie,

And if that passion dies down, mission will keep you on task, right? :)

Thanks for stopping by!


Ralph July 23, 2012 at 11:37 am

Craig, thanks for a little inspiration on a Monday morning. I really do think its all about me though (just so you know), ‘kay?

Couple of things stick out for me:
1. You have to love the work. So damn true because when you are in the “dip” that is what gets you through. That pretty much goes for anything – even golf.
2. Passion only gets you so far. Without a plan passion is just like letting the air out of a balloon. You never know where that sucker will land (kinda fun tho)…. ridiculous analogy but in some ways true.

I am just a kid at heart. At 47 I am still playing in the sandbox with my shovel and dump truck while the big boys put up buildings around me but I really love this social thing, you know? Turning it into something down the road is why I come by here. Solid insight and advice from the mick-bean…..have a good one.
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Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 2:52 am

Hi Ralph,

You’re welcome … yeah, you seem like the self-absorbed type … ;)

1. I think you have to love the work, but you just can’t feel passion day in and day out. You knew that, but so many preach it online and I think many feel inadequate because they don’t have a passion.

2. I like your balloon analogy … you might have a passion and end up on Venice Beach with a “will work for …” sign, even though you’ve embraced your passion for sea glass sculpture and the organic kelpsicle shop didn’t quite work out.

I’m just a lad too, but I’ve traded in my Tonka trucks for a Twitter account so I can roam the social landscape with reckless abandon.


Craig McBreen July 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Forgot to thank you for that damn Annoying Orange vid ;) Actually my youngest son was into this annoying little orange for a while, and there is now an Annoying Orange show on TV. Yikes!!


Ralph July 26, 2012 at 12:06 am

Yeah. Funny. huh? Yikes.
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Craig McBreen July 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Actually … the FIRST time I watch this it was funny … ;)


Peter Sterlacci July 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Awesome stuff Craig and a great reminder. I always say that passion may get you out of bed at 5:00am but it is pure tenacity that gives us the drive to deliver on this passion day in and day out!


Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 2:54 am

Hi Peter,

Thank you, Sir! That is so right. I believe you have to love what you do, but pure passion day in and day out? I don’t think so. Pure tenacity does the job :)

Thanks for stopping in!


Suddenly Jamie July 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I’ll give discomfort a big bear hug after I give you one.
Love this post.

I’ve been playing in the world on online marketing – with all it’s bright baubles, genuine heroes, and – sadly – snake oil salesmen – since 2007. Over these past five years, I’ve developed a physical aversion to the misappropriation of the word “passion.” I am especially offended when “experts” preach “just follow your passion” as a business model.

Life doesn’t work that way.

Loving what you do is nice, but – as you said, and as I recently wrote in a somewhat confessional post: – loving what you do isn’t the whole story. Not by a long shot. I like what I do. I love who I do it for.

I also love the way you differentiate between “passion” and “mission.” The latter is, I agree, a much more powerful force – one with a longer life expectancy than pure “passion.” But we so easily forget our mission – our purpose. We get distracted by shiny things and tempting paychecks. Coming “back to center” on a regular basis is KEY to keeping ourselves on track so that we’re not frittering our lives away chasing random rainbows. Better if we keep our eye on the horizon and take those baby steps a few at a time until we can look behind us and see the path we’ve blazed – for ourselves and for others.

And – with that – I have to go do some trailblazing myself.
Suddenly Jamie recently posted..Don’t let your most important marketing asset walk out the doorMy Profile


Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 3:05 am

Hi Jamie,

Cool … bear hugs all around ;)

Wow … you’re a vet! ’07 … those were the gold-mining days, right? Now there are too many prospectors in da house.

Yes the “just follow your passion” is fantasy really. You can have a passion of course, but to think that will carry you through is just unrealistic and you’re so right, life doesn’t work that way.

I don’t know about you, but I kinda like having a “mission!” It is a powerful way to look at it all, and constantly going back, checking your goals and recalibrating is a necessity to stay on track. There are waaaaaay too many shiny things in blogtopia, so distraction rules, unfortunately. And if you get off the web, you might develop a passion for watching Snooki eat cupcakes at 2:00 a.m. Then I’ll check you into the ward … ;)

Cheers to trailblazing, Ma’am. Thanks for popping in!


Suddenly Jamie July 24, 2012 at 3:17 am

Always a pleasure.
And – no worries – no Snooki temptation here. Talk to me about American Idol, though, and I might have to confess a tiny problem. But I’m in a 12-step program for that.
Suddenly Jamie recently posted..Don’t let your most important marketing asset walk out the doorMy Profile


Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 3:48 am

I have a couple of guilty pleasures on the old tube as well (and it’s not watching Snooki eat cupcakes in a stupor, I swear.


Ralph July 25, 2012 at 10:43 am

Me too….on the Idol thing. Damn, that “stuff” is fun…..
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Craig McBreen July 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I don’t watch, but seem to know everything about the show. Shame, as I miss Steven Tyler’s antics … ;)

Jack@TheJackB July 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I think you can find a blend here. It is not impossible to figure out how to do something you love and to make that a part of your life.

The problem is that passion without a plan for how to use, leverage and build upon it is a recipe for disaster.
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Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 3:08 am

Hi Jack,

I like the blend, but mission keeps us on course, right? I guess I’m just saying all passion, all the time won’t do the job … like you wrote: “The problem is that passion without a plan for how to use, leverage and build upon it is a recipe for disaster.” Yes indeedy! Perfectly stated :)

Thanks for the visit!


Jill Tooley July 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Ain’t that the truth. Getting famous isn’t really a quantifiable goal, either, because there are tons of famous people who reached their status by doing/saying asinine things, and I’d rather be an intelligent nobody than a moronic fifteen-minutes-of-fame celebrity! But when I figure out exactly how I mean to contribute to the world around me and help others in a major way, I’ll let you know. :)

Gotta love those baby steps. I’d be nowhere without them!
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Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 3:23 am

Hi Jill,

I speak the truth! :)

Man, I love what you wrote!! Yes, in this land of Snooki-bots, Kim K clones and general celebrity worship, doing and saying asinine things gets you a short burst of fame and maybe some long green to go with it, for .0001 percent of the people who attempt this type of celebrity.

For the rest of us who are into advancing at a more steady pace, mission will help keep you going. And guess what? It doesn’t have to be so clearly defined, because an occasional recalibration and even gut check is often in order. Oh … and nothing wrong with contributing in small ways.

Oh yes, those baby steps are the only way to go, Ma’am :) Keep taking those steps. Looking forward to more reports from you in the future.


Srinivas July 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Yeah, follow your passion is the cliched mantra of the social web. While it’s got some validity, the message is incomplete. I have a passion for riding waves, but nobody is going to pay me to surf. I think it’s about convergence. You have to figure out where your interests and skills meet market needs.
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Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 3:29 am

Hey Srini,

“Cliched mantra of the social web.” I like that and so true!

It is incomplete. I once had a passion for cooking, but after a bit of time in the restaurant bus., realized the romanticized vision was just that.

It is about convergence. Thanks for bringing that up! Combining passion with skills and what people will actually pay you to to. Reality :)

Great comments, thanks.


Tim Bonner July 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Hey Craig

I’m not sure I’ve fully figured out my purpose yet so I could be on the road to disaster! Maybe I can just stumble about in the dark for a while and find it. No? Ah, I’m not being serious really.

I have a mission. I know where I want to be. Just getting there is a long journey! It’s not all about me though really ;-). Without recognition, whether you have a mission or not or whether you’re passionate about something means nothing.

I’m not talking about being famous. But, you could have the most unique ideas in the world with the greatest mission and passion ever but if no-one knows about it or recognises it then you’re going nowhere fast.

I agree that you need the mission and the passion but you also need a little bit (or more likely a lot) of recognition and some good old-fashioned luck. So, I’m getting out there in the online world and trying to make a difference. That’s the way I’m going to figure out my uniqueness and it’s my way of making “it” move!

A quote from The Shawshank Redemption springs to mind, “Get busy living or get busy dying”. I’m now firmly down the “living” route!
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Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 3:45 am

Hi Tim,

True though. Trying to define a mission can be as hard as finding that elusive passion. What about this? Finding your way to make a contribution to society? That can be a multitude of things, right? Like I mentioned in a previous post, if you want to create the coolest Ukuleles around, build away and go at it! I think you could call that a mission. It might not compare to Mother Theresa’s old record, but who will ever beat that one? ;)

Some recognition does go a long way and we all seek a little bit. That’s only human right? If that’s someone’s only reason though, I think you would agree that said person is in trouble.

Luck doesn’t hurt either. I don’t think we have that much control really and you have to learn to roll with what life throws at you (good or bad) anyway, but that’s what makes life interesting, otherwise it would be … meh! ;)

I love that you brought up one of the most quotable movies ever and one of my favorites. I should watch that one again soon. Love the quote and thanks for the great comments!

I’m now firmly down the “living” route! Amen, brother! Cheers to that.


Brian Thompson July 24, 2012 at 4:00 am

…further thoughts after reading today’s comments on this thread:

Passion doesn’t have to be singular.
You can have more than one passion.
And there are also different degrees of passion.

For instance, I’m passionate about dogs. But I have no plans to monetize it.

But when you align a passion with a purpose, that’s what creates a mission… and that’s a winning combination which can create revenue opportunities.

And it’s this type of inspired mission which can elevate you above the noise with your integrity of purpose.
Brian Thompson recently posted..A Hipster’s Wet Dream: Vintage Instruments (Video)My Profile


Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Great points, especially on the different degrees of passion!

“But when you align a passion with a purpose, that’s what creates a mission… and that’s a winning combination which can create revenue opportunities.”
–Well said, and this might be another blog post in the making … :)



Ryan Hanley July 24, 2012 at 12:45 pm


I like this a lot… Passion doesn’t pay the bills and Passion doesn’t move mountains. Dedication and Focus to your mission… to your goals.

Now passion may accelerate the process, fuel the fire so to speak but its not the driving force. What’s happens on the days when your not feeling the Passion but the important mission is still there. If everything is Passion your not going to put in the effort on those days.

Great points dude.

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Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Hey Ryan,

Passion usually won’t help pay the bills and it sounds like you and I are on the same page when it comes to dedication and focus.

So right about those passionless days, ’cause they come at ya weekly!

Thanks for stopping in. Looks like you are very busy over at your place … :)


Mark July 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm


Once you discover your mission, your passion will fuel it.

Mission and passion is most effective with a ‘plan of attack’ and ‘the ultimate vision for what it is you’re going to create or do.’

These (mission/passion) work best together.

Oh I can’t leave out the middle part of that equation: – this is where the rubber meets the road and the vision, conviction and values you hold up a person are tested in the fires real life.

If your determination endures and spirit remains unbroken through this process, your destined to impact the world with your work. Period.
Mark recently posted..Blogging Insights: Write Like You Talk; If You Can Talk That Is…My Profile


Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Hi Mark,

I like “the ultimate vision for what it is you’re going to create or do,” because that is what most forget to do … have an end-goal in mind. This can change, but if you don’t know what you’re shooting for … well.

“These (mission/passion) work best together.”
–Agreed. And now that several have emphasized that it might just be another blog post ;)

You are so right about the fires of real life, Mark. Nothing will test your mettle more than that, huh? You never know what’s gonna come out of left field.

Great points, all. Thanks!


Mark July 25, 2012 at 12:47 am

Yes, I can see some follow up posts around this subject.

These little ‘wisdom packed’ blog posts can really help aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs get their focus and thoughts in order.

It’s not easy. We are all susceptible to negative thoughts and emotions in the heat of battle and building our life’s dreams…

But all it takes is a word… A word that that stops time for a brief moment so we can collect our thoughts and composure and get our minds right.

Becoming and/or staying at the top of your game has all to do with mindset.
Mark recently posted..Blogging Insights: Write Like You Talk; If You Can Talk That Is…My Profile


Craig McBreen July 25, 2012 at 3:10 am

Hi Mark,

I completely agree with you. You have the option to change your perspective every day. There exceptions of course, things that suck the life right out of you and you can’t do a damn thing about, but most of the time we are the guilty party when it comes to not achieving … “Becoming and/or staying at the top of your game has all to do with mindset.” … Yes siree, Mr Harai!


Mark July 25, 2012 at 3:21 am

Hey, my wording isn’t the best it could be at the moment. My mind is jelly… too many hours at the computer today!

Back on the road – this week is a grind; but I love what I do. Build, build, build…

Anyhoo, sorry for the extra comment here, I just re-read some of my comments and I was obviously asleep at the wheel :o
Mark recently posted..Blogging Insights: Write Like You Talk; If You Can Talk That Is…My Profile

Craig McBreen July 25, 2012 at 3:41 am

You too, huh? ;) I thought your comments were fine, but I know the feeling. Sometimes I comment late at night, then take a quick look in the a.m. and wonder what I was on ;) not a thing, just another social media stupor.

Keep on building :)

Jeevan Jacob John July 24, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I agree, Craig.

Passion without purpose isn’t that useful. A great example is my first year of blogging. I had passion to do it, but I didn’t have a real purpose. Now, I do. And my purpose is simply to help others and present them with a different perspective.

You are also right about making those baby steps – over time those baby steps add up and help us.
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Craig McBreen July 24, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Hi Jeevan,

I’m glad you found your purpose here, Sir! You always bring a different perspective to things and I appreciate your thoughtful comments, as usual.

Baby steps are the only way to go … ;)

Thanks for stopping by!


Bill Dorman July 25, 2012 at 12:49 am

Drop some wisdom? Do you want me to comment, or not?

I don’t know if you ever watched the show the Third Rock from the Sun, but a friend of mine was one of the writers; true story.

Passion is good for sex, but very hard to maintain on a sustainable basis. Yes, you better have some dedication and focus too if you want to be really special.

Wise words indeed my friend; hopefully it is your path as well.
Bill Dorman recently posted..Broadcasting for a losing teamMy Profile


Mark July 25, 2012 at 1:09 am

Now those are some wisdom packed words Bill : )
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Craig McBreen July 25, 2012 at 3:33 am

Hi Bill,

Yes, indeed. Solid cast and great writing … :)

Passion is good for sex and good for the soul, and your right … I’m not sure if someone can sustain intense love of the work, day in and day out. I’m sure even A-Rod has his down days, right? But I guess the money helps with that, huh?

I’d say you are dropping some wisdom.

Thanks for stopping in.


Jens P. Berget July 25, 2012 at 10:28 am

I am not sure passion is overrated, but I do believe that we need at least some passion (not 24/7) combined with what you said about mission.

I am not sure if this is even related, but I have been thinking a lot about my business and my passion for marketing and what I would do if I got the “wrong” client. I love helping people and businesses and that’s part of my passion, but even though I am just starting out and I need all the money and clients I can get my hands on, I would still say no to many (like a few political parties in Norway). That’s because I am on a mission to make the world a better place, so I combine what I believe in with my work (my passion).

That’s how I see it :)
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Craig McBreen July 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Hey Jens,

This is certainly related, as your work should align with your mission, no doubt about that! If they stand for something you can’t get behind, well that’s a good reason. I’ve turned down more than a few clients though, simply because of the way the ran their business. I’ve also had initial meetings with potential clients where you soon realize (or your gut tells you) “no.”

Keep on keepin’ on, Mr. Berget. Thanks for the nice comments.


Leo Dimilo August 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm

This post kind of reminds me of something I read a while back called the career craftsman’s manifesto. It’s a response the the typical “follow your passion” language that is so prevalent in the blogging space.
Leo Dimilo recently posted..When Business and Work Collide with Your Personal Life.My Profile


Craig McBreen August 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Hi Leo,

Thanks for stopping in and for the link. I’ll definitely check it out!

“Follow your passion” means nothing without a plan, in my humble opinion.


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