I was sketching out a mental model of the final chapter of Geoff Colvin's Talent Is Overrated on a late night flight on Sunday, when the woman sitting next to me asked about what I was sketching. She is a product manager for a large company, and appeared burned out and unmotivated. We started talking about passion, and more specifically where it comes from; she seemed to favor the idea that most people are born with a gift that makes them passionate about what they do. I disagreed, arguing that passion was developed over years of practice. Here is the sketch I made of the two alternatives:
Why the heck would I spend 3 hours discussing the origins of passion with someone who seemed to be unmotivated? Well, since I believe that passion can either make or break a product, I became concerned that she was doomed to create products that would fail. A product idea stands no chance without passionate and motivated individuals behind it, so it was interesting to discuss where passion originates with someone who seemed to have lost that spark.
During our chat we kept coming back to the definition of passion. I really liked the way our Partner, Jeremy, broke this down. There are three kinds of passion:
- Purpose – a calling in life, the reason you get up every morning
- Flow – getting into a rhythm with your activity, losing time, performing
- Pleasure – savoring and mindfulness of where you are at right now
After defining passion we kept talking about where passion came from. We never did agree on the origins of it but did agree that every person who wishes to build a successful product should check their passion meter before they start building it. How would someone check their passion meter? Per Colvin's advice, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you want?
- What do you believe?