Everything in Moderation: The Fine Line Between Sufficient and Excessive Passion

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Could you have too much passion for your career? On the surface, that statement sounds ridiculous. Over and over, we hear everyone from professors to mentors to successful business people talk about the importance of being passionate about our livelihood. They insist that passion is an essential ingredient of professional success. In fact, many would argue the greater the passion, the better off you are.

So what’s the downside? I would imagine most of us don’t see much downside. When you love your job and you’re good at it, there are many reasons to give it extra attention. But we’ve all likely seen someone take this to extremes. When I see excessive passion, I can’t help but think of the maxim, “Everything in moderation.”

Ever worry someone you know has fallen so deep in their work that they’ve gone down the rabbit hole of excessiveness? There are a few telltale signs. Consider whether you have come across people who are:

  • So passionate about their latest idea for their business that they can’t hear the input of others? Every passion needs the balance of reason. Outside perspectives help people see new ideas from multiple angles. When people could gain input from trusted third parties and yet ignore it, they may be letting passion lead them by the nose.
  • So passionate about their livelihood that they get more satisfaction from work than anything else? These types of people preserve any free time for work endeavors in lieu of time they could spend on family, on hobbies or on their health. They simply love their work too much to see a problem with their behavior. If passion for work consistently trumps everything else, it’s going to eventually evolve into a lack of life balance. Some individuals may even rationalize their over-commitment to their livelihood as benefiting the family—without seeing how it’s actually creating rifts).
  • So passionate about their career that they loath the concept of retirement? When so much of a person’s self-identity is tied up in helping clients, trying to strengthen the firm’s reputation, and pushing for a higher level of financial worth, retiring may not be anywhere on their to-do list. People who fall in this category love their own perception of the role they play in the lives of others. But they could be wrong, as I discovered during a recent conversation with a newly retired adviser. He was amazed that none of his clients seemed to miss him after he retired. Somehow, he assumed they would be begging him to come back. The truth is we are all dispensable.

The real question you need to ask is this: when others think of the situations above, do they think of you? Passion can play out in wonderful ways; it can help your business thrive. Enthusiasm is catchy and can attract new clients and help you stay on top of all the news and updates you need to know to ensure that you have a successful firm; but if you go too far—if you burn yourself out or ignore the other parts of your life that deserve your focus—that’s when it’s time for a change. You may want to balance your passion with a bit of moderation.

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for webJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.

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