Where's the Love?

Passion Loss as Power Play

It's that kind of self-examination that can really help you find your passion. Chang suggests another way. He notes that there are two types of passion: content-based passion and context-based passion. And ideally, you want to incorporate both types into your life. Content-based passion involves a specific subject or action; for instance, a person might be passionate about tennis and start a tennis-themed business. Context-based passion, on the other hand, is focused more on actions and experiences-you get your passion from competition or learning or teaching.

Albion, for example, remembers starting a pet-food company with a friend, where the two partners spent countless hours together designing their business plan, building their customer base and focusing their products-and having a great time in the process. But after growing the company a bit, Albion's partner decided to bow out. And when Albion went looking for growth capital, he realized he'd lost his drive for the venture. Why? "Because my big passion was [working] with [my partner]," he says. "The business gave us an excuse to spend a lot of time together." When his friend disappeared, so did Albion's passion for the pet-food business.

Chang calls people who are adept at the passion game "passioneers"-people who blend content-based passion and context-based passion into their everyday tasks. "If you're an athlete, what drives you contextually is the learning, training and competing. The content is the sport you compete in," he says.

The key is not only rediscovering what you love to do, but also realizing that your core passion and values may change over time. What you were passionate about when you first started your endeavor can greatly shift 15 years into the venture. It's part of an ebb and flow cycle that is common in all areas of life.

Marley Majcher found her passion changing in 1998 after she had run her Los Angeles-area restaurant for six years. Though she still loved working with food, she found running the restaurant day-to-day monotonous. Majcher, 33, craved a new challenge.

After a skiing accident forced her to take some time off, Majcher came to a conclusion: She likened running a restaurant to putting on the same play every night. "I realized finally that what I wanted was maybe not the [same] performance every night of the week, but a different play every month of the year [instead]," says Majcher.

So she bowed out of the restaurant gig and turned her attention to a catering business. And in the spirit of new challenges, Majcher turned the catering business into a full-fledged event-planning company called The Party Goddess! Inc. And with sales now at $1.2 million, she combines her passion for food with the variety she craves. "I was not good at the day-to-day repetitive [restaurant atmosphere]," she says. Now she can plan a Tuscan fantasy one day and a night of Hollywood glamour the next. Talk about keeping those passion fires burning.

The Winds of Change

As all these entrepreneurs have found, change can bring with it a harvest of new beginnings and can inspire you to take your company in an entirely new direction. "What you're doing in life needs to align [with] your big purpose," says Chang. "And over time, that big purpose changes."

But losing that twinkle in your eye-that passion for entrepreneurship-doesn't have to mean the death knell for your business. Perhaps it only means it's time for a new direction.


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This article was originally published in the October 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Where's the Love?.

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