Three Memes

On Passion, Productivity and False Gods

Earlier this week, I attended a startup event featuring a Q&A with Will Sacks, CEO and Founder of Fulcrum Ventures. Before Fulcrum, he founded and led Kindara, a woman’s digital health platform. It started as an app for women to track their fertility.

He didn’t do this because of a passion for software (he didn’t know how to code!). He wasn’t particularly passionate about women’s fertility either. But he felt a nudge. It started with him and his wife trying to find a solution for themselves. By his own admission, something in him told him to continue pursuing this further.

So he kept going.

Passion is a loaded term and can come with a lot of pressure. Pressure to know what your passion is, to do something about it if you think you know, and even more, to bring it to some satisfying conclusion / success.

The heart is a superset of passion. Following its intuitive nudges will effortlessly lead you to your next step(s). Maybe it is to pursue a particular passion. Or maybe its to take a step back. Learn. Be open. Be curious. Be.

As someone who’s committed to this way of being, I can confidently say it doesn’t come with pressure. Uncertainty, yes (very uncomfortable to the conditioned mind used to control/certainty). And a whole lot of flow.

Ultimately, being this way, you’ll discover passion exists in each moment / unfolding of the journey.

The struggle is real.

We’re conditioned to always be productive. To feel guilty if we’re not moving. Or doing.

Action is important but the need to constantly do or be busy does a great disservice. It robs you of silence and the space to just be. Great ideas, those brilliant insights that hit like a bolt of lightning, require silence and one to be in a receptive state. A busy mind is neither of those things.

Expecting results in proportion to work/effort applied is linear thinking. Similarly, expecting a loss of productivity when resting is linear thinking.

Returns/results are actually non-linear and obey power laws (e.g. 80-20 rule). And generating outlier returns / being great demands immense creativity.

Creativity can’t be forced, just like you can’t force a flower to bloom. In fact, the more you force, the more it eludes.

Consistent action is important. Consistent rest, doing nothing is just as important.

“A busy calendar and a busy mind will destroy your ability to do great things in this world. If you want to be able to do great things, whether you’re a musician, or whether you’re an entrepreneur, or whether you’re an investor, you need free time and you need a free mind.”
— Naval Ravikant

Elon. Bezos. Buffett. Chamath. Insert favorite CEO / billionaire / personality you love to idolize/worship.

It could also be someone closer to your professional world - someone widely celebrated in Product, Marketing, Sales, etc.

Admiring and learning from others success/failures is one thing.

But there’s a darker side to this.

The media loves a hero and has turned celebrity worship into a full-time sport.

In doing this, celebrities get elevated to the status of gods or beings with superpowers. By buying into this narrative, we unconsciously cede our power. With this, we also cede our responsibility to be great. Because they’re extraordinary, we rationalize. They’re special.

They’re also human, average, and imperfect in many ways like the rest of us. Never meet your heroes, the adage goes, because it breaks the illusion.

Well, break the damn illusion then. Drop any excuses to settle for less because of programming that may say you’re any less. Affirm this to yourself everyday if you have to, to break the spell of hero worship.

This doesn’t mean you have to replicate anyone’s success or become a billionaire. Forge your own path. Follow your heart (you’ll never stop hearing this from me) and define success on your terms. Believe in your potential. Ask yourself, why can’t I?

Just don’t sacrifice yourself at the altar of any false gods.


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