The recent Netflix documentary, Fyre, tells the story of a sensational marketing campaign deployed by shady individuals using celebrities, models, and influencers to sell tickets at outlandish prices to what promised to be the greatest festival on Earth, held on a private Island in the Bahamas.
While the promotion was both sexy and intoxicating, behind the scenes was a shit show — of epic proportions.
Revellers signed up for a festival unparalleled to anything the world has ever seen. And while they certainly got that, it came in the form of a nightmare. And a shitty ham & cheese sandwich.
So, what has Fyre to do with passion?
Well, everything really.
A shit show is too often the reality one is faced with when pursuing passion as a career.
Those selling the dream win. The vast majority buying lose.
Many drool over the prospect of a life fuelled by passion. Why wouldn’t you? The manifestation of your dreams is just a few steps away. Total utopia awaits.
The dream is what gets us. The reality is what kills us.
Depression is rampant among young entrepreneurs. A comparative study approved by the UC Berkeley Institutional Review Board found entrepreneurs were twice as likely to suffer from depression (30% compared to 15%).
Those selling passion positions 9-5 as the enemy. I also happen to believe the corporate world requires serious adjustment. But it’s not all bad—as long as you don’t hate what you do.
We fail to mention those that move away from a life of “slavery” are twice as likely to suffer from depression. I’d hazard a guess and say it’s far higher for those motivated purely by passion.
So, is passion the answer?
I don’t think so. Not with the current approach anyway. It seems the pursuit of passion is fucking way more people up than it’s helping.
Many have become so dissatisfied with life that they make it their sole mission to uncover their passion and purpose to fulfil their destiny. This has become the Holy Grail. And they allow it to destroy them.
It is yet another problem that wasn’t a problem until the personal development industry got involved.
In a world of rebels with a distaste for authority, it’s easy to convince someone the answer to their problems lies in their passion and purpose. But few things are more misunderstood than passion or purpose.
This is not a masterclass on the definition. This is an exploration of the reality—a reality that likely sees over 96% of those who try, fail.
Yes, social media and the Internet has levelled the playing field. Technically, anybody can have a stab at it. And so they do. And while this is great, it definitely fucks with your chances of success.
So, while it’s arguably easier than ever, it’s arguably more difficult than ever also.
Before the Internet, this wasn’t an issue. Today, we’re bombarded with advertisements on Facebook and Instagram (both subliminal and direct) telling us we’re lazy and we kind of suck if we’re not at least trying to pursue a passion for profit. And if we do follow our passion, success is almost certainly a foregone conclusion.
And so, too many believe passion alone is enough to get them over the line.
It’s not. Not even close.
I don’t base this purely on experience —although it plays a role—I base it on stories I hear and that which I see.
Let’s be honest: Innovation is lacking.
Most are doing something with a slight variation of what someone—or thousands—has done before.
Those you deem successful and compare yourself to are also more accessible than ever. They’re rarely doing anything complicated and are being well compensated, so why can’t it be you?
Got a nice ass? Take a picture. Boom!
Questions we rarely ask or acknowledge are maybe timing came into it? The internet moves fast. Maybe there was an element of luck? And perhaps their life is nowhere near as good as they present it?
But you still want to give it a go. And who could blame you? Life is nothing but a game, and it’s better to fail having tried than to not try at all.
So you give it a go.
Let’s use me as an example because I kind of went in on this passion thing—even if mine is a warped one.
I like to write. So I throw that in the mix. Anxiety is a major problem in the world—a problem I unwillingly have first-hand experience in, so I throw that in the mix also.
It feels great to chat with someone and help them find relief from this horrible bastard which is another definite plus. I also know how expensive, confusing and time consuming it is because it took me over $20,000 and a decade of my life to sort the shit out.
As a result, I could help others save thousands and years of pain.
And I’m passionate about it even though I would change things if I could go back in time because fuck going through that again!
It’s still a passion nonetheless.
A no-brainer, right?
One of the first lessons you’ll get on your quest to become an outlaw is that most people close to you don’t give a shit about your passion. And they probably don’t want to see you succeed in it. Because why should you get to do what you’re passionate about for a living when everybody else has to work?
I know that sounds cynical of me, but there’s merit to it.
Now you must execute. And to do that, you’ll have to learn a whole load of shit you know nothing about.
Not limited to…
Writing, email marketing, social media marketing, SEO, strategy, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, analytics, research, CMS, Photoshop, copywriting, design, sales, psychology, and—oh my fuck—it won’t be long before your brain is set to explode because that’s just the half of it.
Proficiency in any of these will land you a well-paid job.
I almost forgot: You also need to continuously improve at what it is you actually do. If you haven’t forgotten already?
It’s a mirage between a party and a nightmare.
And when you open the Internet for help, you’ll be bombarded with endless contradictory ads by some asshole who thinks he’s on an episode of MTV cribs assuring you his way is the only way.
It can be a complete and utter cluster fuck of a puzzle to solve that will have you, at times, screaming for the Rubik’s Cube. And to have a chance at succeeding, it’s a puzzle you have to solve. And they said if you do what you love you’ll never work another day in your life.
Everyone wants freedom, but freedom comes at a cost few are willing to pay. Even the most resilient can come up short.
Passion is pain the way pain is love.
It can blind you and often makes no sense in the business world.
I have my goals set out for the year. It’s back to the reason I started this all in the first place. I’ll finish my book. And if it flops, it flops. I’ll happily tap out knowing there’s no place for passion in my business.
I can already see the upside. Primarily, having nothing to do with a personal brand. Full disclosure, I have a vendetta towards those constantly tooting their horns on Instagram as if they were sent here by Christ himself. There’s more propaganda in personal branding than there is North Korea. I’d honestly rather drink tea with Kim Jong-un.
Now, I’m not giving out here—even though I clearly am—but in a world where everybody is trying to turn their passion into profit, how easy can it be?
You will experience rejection on a level you never thought possible. You will be smacked, punched and headbutted. You will have people close to you and people you don’t know telling what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
You will take it personally. And on occasion, it will hurt. Because you can’t dismiss it until you’ve cracked it.
This is passion.
I don’t write this to put you off—I write this to inform you. Should you not at least be aware of what you’ll come up against? At least that way you can prepare yourself for it.
Don’t be blinded by this stuff. Dreams are not reality.
You choose passion for a reason. That reason should never be because you think it’s going to be easy.
One of my favourite writers recently wrote that the safest thing you can do in this climate is to become an entrepreneur doing something you love.
Regardless of whether you love it or not, if it doesn’t pay, you won’t love it for long. And even with the purest of intentions, you still need to earn a living. Otherwise, you can’t help anybody. And your passion will dwindle.
It’s not for lack of trying that people are failing. It’s because they are sold on a false reality.
Maybe thriving for you is working for someone else. Perhaps you want security. Maybe you have a talent an entrepreneur needs and will be willing to pay you way more for it than most entrepreneurs are making themselves.
Uncertainty is something we all deal with, but if you don’t like it in a job, you certainly won’t love it when all responsibility falls on you.
If 100,000 read this and 10,000 decide to start a passion business, 9,600 or more will likely fail, and 3,200 or more will suffer from depression as a result.
That’s shit math.
Cal Newport offers a profound argument and approach to passion in his book, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” where he argues passion isn’t something you chase. It’s something you earn by maximizing your existing skills. The better you get, the more passionate and invaluable you become.
It’s essentially the reverse of all this happy-go-lack hippy-dippy shit sprayed everywhere.
At least then, if you decide to embark on an entrepreneurial endeavour, you’ll a) drastically increase your likelihood for success, and b) be secure in the knowledge that if it does fail, you still have a highly sought after skill to fall back on.
Maybe that’s the passion you should strive for?
And instead of getting a ticket to Fyre, you get your ass to Coachella, where you’re guaranteed to experience the best of the best. And not end up paying thousands for an extremely shitty — ham & cheese sandwich.