We’ve all seen it before and many of us have even said it: “I’m a passionate entrepreneurial leader, etc. etc.” But as I’ve collected the battle scars that come with passionately pursuing entrepreneurial aspirations and a successful career, it’s become clear to me that passion has been the single-largest speed bump in my ability to make good decisions and create extraordinary outcomes.
At face value, passion is wonderful. It says you’re interested. It says you care. It says you’ll work relentlessly to get the job done. So maybe passion is simply our proxy for letting the world know that we care.
But, put into practice, passion is the active ingredient in poor decision making and brings the human ego into play, which blocks the most valuable asset that each of us have. Wisdom.
Wisdom, I’d argue, is simply experience without emotion tied to it. And if that’s the case, we can agree that wisdom is the opposite of passion.
Where passion creates emotion, reaction and an ego-centric view, wisdom creates peaceful inspection, a natural search for analogues and an objectivity that opens-up this sixth sense. A decision-making superpower if you will.
If the Earth’s yellow sun is the source of Superman’s power and Kryptonite is the source of his weakness, then wisdom is the entrepreneur’s ‘yellow sun’ of great decision-making and passion is their Kryptonite.
Let’s play a quick game. It’s called “one of these things is not like the other”:
- She murdered him in the heat of passion.
- Their passion burned like ten thousand Bic lighters at a Journey concert (God, I miss the 80s).
- The entrepreneur’s passion enabled her to resolve a cultural problem within the organization that was negatively effecting employee retention and profit.
Where passion has you seeing red because a competitor has bested you at something, for example, it’s wisdom (a dispassionate approach) that enables one to see where your competitors might be falling short and charting a path to shoot that gap.
Wisdom takes your ego out of your decision making and allows you to fully leverage your bank of experience and knowledge and the input from those around you.
Wisdom vs passion
Many of us have been taught to believe that wisdom is this magic, only bestowed to the elders of our society; the grey hairs who’ve been to battle and have seen the top of the mountain. But here’s the real secret. We all have it. From day one of our first job to our dying day. We all have the ability to step out of ourselves, to look at a situation from a dispassionate, objective place and truly see the answers. Like anything else, it just takes practice.
To be clear, a wise, dispassion approach does not mean robotic. It does not mean lacking joy or genuine enthusiasm for a project or a topic. It is simply making decisions from a place that is unencumbered by your personal and emotional biases. Wisdom means, simply, benefiting from your experience in a peaceful, balanced and thoughtful manner.
Which, if you ask me, is a pretty wonderful way to navigate business and life, in general.
So if you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or simply someone with big career aspirations, save your passion for the bedroom or the playing field. Save your passion for your hobby. Save your passion for your football team. But keep your passion away from your business decisions as you work to create extraordinary outcomes.