Blog | Entrepreneurship

Why You Should (or Shouldn't) Follow Your Passion

Five Lessons on Passion from Caine's Arcade

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Robert’s rich dad said, “Employees dread the work week and live for the weekend. Their world is made up of two spheres: work and play. The rich don’t know the difference. Their work is their play because they’re passionate about what they do.”

This advice served as a valuable lesson to Robert, who, from a very young age, began following his passions and finding ways to make them profitable.

To both Robert and myself, my business is like a game. Some people study golf. We study investing and business. And one aspect of business we’re particularly enthralled with is the importance of passion. I’m going to illustrate why by summarizing a powerful 11-minute documentary film called Caine’s Arcade.

Caine’s Arcade

Little, 9-year old Caine is passionate about arcades. He followed his passions and made his own arcade. Like many passions, people didn’t get his at first. He even faced ridicule from people who didn’t understand his dreams. Yet, he persisted — and good things came.

But here’s the truth: even if the flash mob never showed, Caine would have stuck with his arcade dream. And that is the secret to his success.

There are lots of ways to make money in this world. But as the saying goes, what’s the point of gaining the whole world if you lose your soul? The key is to have both, and that is achieved only when we pursue our passions. Why?

  1. Passion gives you the drive to go on. Caine could easily have quit. Everyone around him would have understood. But instead, he continued to pursue his arcade because he was first doing it for himself, which then became a benefit for others. Like Caine, when we’re passionate about something, we innovate, create, and continue on with our dreams.

  2. Passion pushes you to learn more. Caine wasn’t content with building his first version of his arcade and leaving it as is. Instead, he continued to learn more and create more. He developed better systems and games. He honed his skills and created better products. Though only 9 years old, Caine put more thought into his dream than most adults do in a lifetime. Caine’s passion is evident in his craft. Like Caine, those who are successful as adults are those people who instead of becoming calloused and losing their sense of wonder and possibility, manage to retain a childlike quality and see the world full of opportunity. They work hard to learn more, honing their craft and increasing their financial education.

  3. Passion is infectious for others. There’s a reason why Caine’s video has been viewed millions of times. People love his passion, and they love seeing that one person recognized Caine’s passion and rewarded it. When you’re passionate about your work, whether building a company or investing in real estate, others see that passion and are drawn to it. Good things come from that attraction.

  4. Passion makes work fun. What could be more fun than building a cardboard arcade? Lots of things actually. For me, I love financial education and learning. So Robert and I took our shared passion and created the Rich Dad Company, which provides financial education and resources for people worldwide. It started on our kitchen table as a dream and now is a global company. Each day, I get to do what I love. My work is fun and it never gets old. What do you love to do, and how can you make your work fun?

  5. Passion is the beginning of success. Every successful person in life began by pursuing a passion, usually against all odds. That is the beauty of entrepreneurship. Generally, you have only a passion, a good idea, and a dream. Though ideas and dreams come and go, if passion is never lost, eventually good things will come your way.

Should you follow your passion?

Well, that’s the million-dollar question. If you've thought of starting a business, you've probably heard conflicting advice on this topic. Should you follow your passion? Or should you base your business on something more practical?

Doing what you're passionate about is an important ingredient to happiness in life. I believe everyone should have something in their life they're passionate about. And it's wonderful when you can get paid well for doing what you're passionate about. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. So how do you know if you should turn your passion into a business?

The key is to remember that a successful business's priority is to bring value to its customers. The needs of the owner are secondary. A good business is a win-win situation: If the customer's needs and wants are being met, the owner makes money. If not, then the business fails.

So when considering the question of whether or not to turn your passion into a business, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. Can I leverage what I am passionate about to bring value to others?

  2. How much will others pay for this value I am providing?

  3. Are the margins (income - costs = profit margin) strong enough to provide the financial profits I desire?

  4. Who is the business really for? Am I willing to make customer value my first priority, or is this really about me doing what I love?

If your honest answer to that last question — and you MUST be honest with yourself — is "It's really about me," that's OK. Sometimes adding the money factor to your passion spoils the passion. If your first priority is just doing what you love, then you can still pursue it — just do it as a hobby or a job where you get a steady paycheck, not as a business. Then find something else that interests you where you feel comfortable putting customers first and build a business around that.

Now, ask yourself these questions: What is your passion? What lessons can you learn from little Caine in following them? How will you achieve your dreams? And, finally, when will you start? I hope the answer is: Today!

Original publish date: April 17, 2012

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