Over the weekend, Dallas Mavericks owner and Internet billionaire Mark Cuban posted a piece on his blog titled "Don’t Follow Your Passion, Follow Your Effort." That particular post was widely shared across the web with many impressionable entrepreneurs accepting his advice as gospel.
Needless to say, we “passionistas” were shocked, shocked!
As an entrepreneur who has always chased his passions with positive results, I feel compelled to offer a rebuttal.
Don’t Follow Mark Cuban, Follow Your Passion
Sometimes Mark Cuban is right on the mark and other times he’s bouncing around the court like a mad man. This is one of those times when I’m left scratching my head. Cuban’s post about abandoning passion for the bitter embrace of a cubicle is one of the most irresponsible pieces of advice I’ve ever seen offered.
Contrary to Mark’s take, “follow your passion” is indisputably the best advice anyone can receive. I can only guess that what he was trying to drive at is that making a living from your passion isn’t too realistic in today’s world - a point well-taken. But that sad reality doesn’t make following your passion any less legitimate a path to pursue.
The fact is people work ten times harder, faster, better when doing what they’re passionate about. The big unknown, however, is whether that love and drive can be turned into money, because without money we can’t survive.
For some, success through passion happens in mere months; for most others, it takes years, even decades, before they either succeed or have to give up and join the regular workforce. Unfortunately too many people work to live instead of the other way around and that’s a real shame. Whoever is lucky enough to break out of that mold should absolutely do so and do it as early in life as possible.
The fundamental question for every dream-seeker to decide for themselves is for how long to chase a passion before it becomes too unrealistic to make a living from it.
Of course there’s no success without effort so one of Mark’s points about working hard makes good sense. But that’s no revelation. Most of us learned there are no shortcuts early on when, through overreliance on Cliffs Notes, we were handed that heart-stopping D-minus on the English Lit mid-term.
Most egregious of all his assertions was in saying passion follows effort. Mark’s point of view is dangerously naive and just plain wrong. I have a feeling Mark Cuban’s own path proves that. I think it’s pretty obvious that he is immensely passionate about technology, and he managed to turn that healthy obsession into billions. So why teach others to pursue any different a path than he himself followed? He may well have forgotten that just because something’s difficult doesn’t make it wrong.
The truth is, effort follows passion, not the other way around, and they are really a package deal. Love something and the effort will cascade out of you uncontrollably. Thought-leaders like Cuban should empower people to succeed by doing what they love, not encourage them to get a “real” job and hope one day passion sprouts up out of nowhere.
It shouldn’t be Mark Cuban’s job to point out to us the harsh realities of life; that’s for us to find out on our own during our rollercoaster journey. What we need to hear from successful people like him is that the seemingly impossible can be achieved and the best way to achieve big things is by doing what you love.
If we have to settle for less then so be it, but not a moment before our dreams are given their fair shot at becoming realities.
Click here to see Mark Cuban’s original post.