Whether an individual is considering starting a small business or simply what career path to choose, it is important that the individual follows their passion. While characteristics such as strong values, talent, ambition, intellect, discipline, persistence, and luck contribute to business and career success, passion can often make the biggest difference of all.

The True Meaning of Success

Before defining passion and explaining it's significance, we must first explore the true meaning of success. Success is usually assumed to be associated with large sums of wealth or a high level of fame, but true success is not all about money.

Success is, or should be, defined as an achievement of something desired. What most people desire most, even more than money, is to be proud of their achievements and actions. This is particularly true when it comes to work. If an individual has passion, there is a greater likelihood that money and pride will follow because the time and effort invested in the venture comes with enthusiasm and zeal.

Why Passion Is so Important

If enthusiasm and pride are present, resilience is easier obstacles are encountered. Pride and confidence are conducive to a positive outlook which is conducive to problem-solving and overcoming difficulty, something that is sure to arise in the process of starting a business or career advancement. Also, the more enthusiasm a person has, the more inclined they are to work hard on self-improvement increasing an individual's chances of success. 

Icons of Our Time

Steve Jobs

One of the most successful companies in the world today is Apple. Apple's most notable leader was ex-CEO, the late Steve Jobs. Carmine Gallo wrote an article called, "The Seven Success Principles of Steve Jobs," which outlines seven key factors that are responsible for Jobs' success. The article is based on multiple interviews with Apple employees and Steve Jobs himself. The first principle listed in the article is, "Do what you love." Steve Jobs believed in the power of passion and once said, "People with passion can change the world for the better." Jobs claimed that the passion he had for his work made all the difference.

Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner, the once homeless man turned multi-millionaire stockbroker, and featured in the movie, "The Pursuit of Happiness," expressed what he believes is the secret to success. According to Gardner, the secret is to "find something you love to do so much you can't wait for the sun to rise to do it all over again." He explains that the most inspiring leaders are those who do not work but pursue a calling.

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has changed the world in which we live. In David Kirkpatrick's book, "The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of The Company That is Connecting The World," Kirkpatrick lists what he believes are Zuckerberg's characteristics that led to his success. One of these characteristics is following his passion - not money. Zuckerberg suggests "following your happiness" using the logic that even if you do not end up making a fortune, you will at least be doing what you love.

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett, known as "the Oracle of Omaha" and probably one of the greatest investors of all time, reveals his secrets to successful investing. But even Buffett knows there is more to success than money. In Parade's article, "10 Ways To Get Rich: Warren Buffett's Secret That Can Work For You," Buffet concludes his list of advice with, "Know what success really means." He explains the importance of finding what it is that brings true meaning and what makes each day important. This should be the focus of an individual's efforts.

It's Never Too Late

Most Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs.  According to Gallup, 85% of employees are actively disengaged from their jobs [1]. The need for healthcare and a steady income are reasons that many Americans feel compelled to stay where they are. However, if there is a way for a person to navigate the financial hurdles and pursue their passion in a niche area, hard work and success might come easier than assumed. Enjoying the work you do is, in some ways, more important than having a large bank account.