Why Success Takes More Than Passion

Everyone talks about “passion” these days, and truthfully, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s always better to be emotionally plugged into projects and excited about the possibilities. But these days, it seems that people talk about passion a lot, but they don’t see the importance of preparation. For instance, you’d be amazed at the number of people who call our office hoping I can introduce them to a literary agent – except for the small fact that they haven’t actually written a book yet.

The other day someone asked me to introduce him to a movie studio executive so he could pitch his idea, but the caller has never actually worked in the movie industry, written a screenplay, or know anything about the business.

I literally get hundreds of calls from people who want to speak at conferences. But they’ve never volunteered at a conference, met the people in the background, or taken the time to learn by speaking at smaller, less important events. Others want to teach at a university but haven’t taken the time to get a graduate degree. The list goes on and on…

Surgeons don’t get into an operating room without the tough work of medical school.  Cops don’t get to carry a badge without the right training.  Even real estate agents need a license.  But when it comes to what seem like more “creative” endeavors, people assume that passion is enough.

Here’s the bottom line:

Watching a lot of TV doesn’t qualify you to produce a new reality show.
Attending conferences doesn’t qualify you to be a keynote speaker.
The feeling that you’re called to lead a church doesn’t necessarily mean you’re qualified to do it.

So, my advice? Do the work. Prepare. Do your homework, classwork, or apprenticeship.  The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be ready.

Want to teach college? Start working on the appropriate graduate degree.
Want to speak at conferences? Do the time. Get involved. Volunteer behind the scenes.
Want to publish? Start a blog, produce magazine articles, or write a book manuscript.
Want to make a movie? Write a script, become an intern, get a job in Hollywood, or raise the money.
Want to be a ministry leader? Do the background work. Lead a smaller church ministry. Get involved. Work with people in need. Take theology classes.

There are no shortcuts. Passion is great – but coupled with preparation, there is no limit to what you can accomplish.

Now – get to work!

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  1. Totally agreed. The number of people who tell me “I’m going to write a book” – and in some cases even have the talent to do so – but simply don’t have the discipline to actually write the thing is surprisingly high. The truth is inspiration or passion or whatever term you want to use is actually only a small percentage of what is required. A good 90 per cent is hard work, determination and a willingness to make sacrifices. In the end, people make time for what is most important to them, and if writing is what is important, you will make time for it.

  2. I couldn’t agree more! I heard an interview in which J.J. Abrams was asked what separated him from the hundreds of thousands of people writing screenplays in their bedrooms at night and as I was a few months in on a screenplay at the time my ears perked. His answer was simple. He said: (Paraphrasing) “Only about ten percent of people that say they are ‘writing’ a screenplay ever actually write a screenplay.”

    The revelation of what you stated above is an incredible driving force. Hopefully more people grasp it and are successful in their passions!

    PS. After about a year of work, I’m planning to start querying agents for interest in my script by the beginning of the new year. So this blog topic means a great deal to me!

  3. Funny that I read it today. Just an hour ago I was cribbing about people in my city expecting to get paid for the work they don’t actually know how to do properly.
    I’m glad I’m in my preparatory phase. Grinding is the only way to shining 😉

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