Found a passion – but hit a sticking point? Wondering whether to give up or push through? Use the advice and tools from SXSW featured speaker Akash Thakkar to decide. Need more? Stout brings you two real-life “should-I-stay-or-should-I-go” experiences shared by other SXSW presenters.
There are a lot of dreams at SXSW, the annual creative and thought-leader convergence festival held in Austin, TX. Some are realized, but most are in a stage of metamorphosis – no longer a caterpillar, but not yet a butterfly.
One thing that those dreams all have in common is that they started with a passion for something. A spark of desire kindled the flame of pursuit – of a product, an idea, a change. Passion is imperative to get started on a journey, but it can be fickle. Why? Because one of the biggest myths about passion is that it should make things easy – and the truth is anything but.
Passion ≠ Easy
At some point, says Thakkar, things are going to feel like work, no matter how powerful the passion that put you on a particular path was when you began. This is where the self-doubt creeps in, where the questions begin to form. People who buy into the myth of “passion = easy” tend to flit from passion to passion, chasing something new every time their current pursuit becomes hard. And the truth is, there are some times that it does make sense to quit. But it’s often hard to know where or when to draw that line.
“Ask yourself, what are you willing to be rejected for? If you can’t take it, don’t pursue it.” – Akash Thakkar
Linda vs Joey
Consider two SXSW presenters. One, Linda M, had a passion for her family’s business, and wanted to expand their scope and fortune. Another, Joey F, was so inspired by his time spent at Burning Man that when Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, he started on a mission to provide relief using his unique expertise as a maker of things. Both of these people had a strong desire to succeed, and knew what they wanted to pursue. Both hit roadblocks along the way, and things got tough. They had reached pivotal points in their efforts, and needed to take stock.
So what about Linda and Joey?
Both of these SXSW presenters were passionate about what they were doing. Their results, however, were very different. Linda McMahon, current leader of the SBA and former CEO and president of wrestling empire WWE, spoke on going “From Bankrupt to Billionaire”. After literally losing all their money in a bad investment, she and her husband stuck with the wrestling business, leveraging down to the last second to keep going. Joey Ficklin, trade carpenter and director of Maker Faire Austin, presented “How I Failed at Disaster Relief”. His desire to organize disaster relief revolving around the makers’ community was never realized, for a variety of reasons. The key differences between their success and failure when it came to following a passion was knowing when the struggle is too much versus when to push through, and what the long-term upside was. McMahon said to the packed auditorium listening to her story, “It’s not how you fall, it’s how you get up.” But it’s equally important to know whether you should even get up or not.
Passion isn’t always enough to keep going, and struggle isn’t always a reason to quit. Stout offers these additional takes on passion, struggle and the importance of health – see what insights they offer you. And stay tuned next week as we wrap up our SXSW coverage with the reveal of an exciting new American purpose initiative, and a final look at the power of convergence.