Entrepreneurs are a passionate bunch — they have to be. That tireless passion is what drives them forward, helping them overcome the inevitable hurdles in their pursuit of success. Yet, this passion can also be detrimental if left unchecked.
It is easy to lose yourself in endless to-do lists, meetings, and deadlines. This happens to so many leaders and when it does, it completely blurs the line between their work and their personal lives. The Harvard Business Review defines this as “obsessive passion”, where money and rewards are the sole motivators for success. And because you can never have enough money or enough rewards, it is impossible to ever strike a healthy balance with work. Obsessive passion is what eventually causes burnout, and more often than not these leaders do not see the warning signs that precede burnout because they are so focused on the winding road ahead of them.
But to have passion does not (and should not) mean you will eventually have burnout, as long as you have the right kind of passion. The opposite of obsessive passion is harmonious passion, where leaders are motivated in their roles because that is what is the most important to them. Profit and growth is a result of this, but they are not the sole factors that drive happiness. It is these leaders that are less likely to experience burnout.
Somewhere along the line, success became the reason that many leaders lose relationships, give up on their mental and physical well-being, and exhaust themselves past the point of no return. But success should never cause you to sacrifice your life outside of the office (or even during the work day). When you stop chasing money for money’s sake, you can find happiness in your role and success will grow from there.
In addition to refocusing your passion, it is also important that you recognize that passion does not always need to be “on.” It is impossible to expect the same level of passion day in and day out, and not realizing that means that on your more tranquil days, you risk feeling like you are not doing enough. If you stay in this pattern, it will quickly result in a detachment from your role — and worse, an eventual detachment from your life outside of work as well.
Alexander Kjerulf, Founder of Woohoo inc, sums it up pretty well when he says this: “Most people chase success at work thinking that will make them happy. The truth is that happiness at work will make you successful.” So be passionate, but make sure you are being passionate in the right way and about the right things.