Is There a Difference Between Desire and Passion?

There is a difference between desire and passion in my mind, although I don’t want to get all egg-head philosophical with you or start picking over the subtle distinctions between one word and another. Let me tell you my meanings because I think they will make sense to you, though. Desire is general and innate. It’s about wanting something more and better for ourselves and our family. Passion is specific and can be developed. It’s excitement about how we get that more and better – and enthusiasm about what that more and better is.

In my life, I started in sales. I had an innate desire to sell and to be successful at it. But I became passionate about selling. I studied the techniques. I learned everything I could from the people around me.  I practiced and practiced my craft. And I became good at it. My desire to be a good sales professional didn’t help me become successful. Desire was simply my motivation. It was my passion to do my job well, which my clients felt and persuaded them, that helped me succeed.

The same thing is true in my current work. I’m passionate about helping people and companies build Sales Culture, and I’m passionate about helping you get what you deserve, and that passion comes through. There is one more important point I’d like to make about the difference between desire and passion, and it’s good news for anyone reading this right now and thinking “But I don’t feel passion, Todd.”

I get that. Not everyone is lucky enough to find occupations right away that naturally ignite their passion. Some people work in jobs or careers because they need to support families and meet obligations. We are all born with different levels of ability and opportunity. But I know every person reading this book has the desire for something more and better by the simple fact you are reading this book in the first place.

If you have desire, you can build something in your life that will give you passion. And I do believe that passion is something you can build. You can build passion by adopting the words, the actions, and the attitudes that express it. This is not “faking” passion. You can’t fake passion because people will be able to tell you are faking and it will hurt you. But you can make passion a choice and a commitment, and once you commit, soon you will start to feel it in your blood and your bones. Your energy level will rise. You’ll begin to feel real excitement. The people around you will begin to feel that excite. And you’ll have taken your first step. You’ll be on your way.

How Passion Helps You Win

So what is it about passion that is so persuasive? Because I believe passion persuades – and I believe it passionately as you can tell.

Passion is partly about enthusiasm, and enthusiasm is contagious. If we are excited about who we are and what we do, then other people will become excited too. And they’ll listen to us. And then they’ll begin to think they should be as enthusiastic as we are.

I know the owner of a sandwich shop in Philadelphia who is passionate about making the best hoagies in the city. (For all my non-Philadelphia readers, the “hoagie” is the real name of that sandwich you’ve been calling a “hero” or a “sub” or a “grinder” all your life.) Most of the time,
a hoagie is too much food for me, but I want one every time I walk by his store because he is so enthusiastic about what he does.

Passion is also persuasive because a lack of passion can be incredibly dispersuasive, a word my editor tells me is not in the dictionary but which I’m going to use anyhow. The words “I’m not passionate” are another way of saying, “I don’t care.” I think about my experiences flying on Southwest Airlines compared to other carriers, and I’ll choose Southwest any trip I can because their people make me feel they really care about winning my business and making sure I enjoy my flight. Their passion sells me.

How many times have you bought something from a person who didn’t care about your business (assuming you didn’t absolutely need to buy that item or service right then and there)? Not many times. Further, regardless of whether you bought or didn’t buy, I bet you swore you would never use that business again and went out of your way to find another one that could do the same thing. You might have even spent more money with another business rather than give it to one that didn’t care. This is simple human nature, and human nature is real and powerful.

The same dynamic holds true in offices, in community groups, in volunteer organizations, among your family and friends. Passion is contagious and makes people want to say “yes” to us. A lack of passion is equally catching, and can inspire people to say “no”.

Another reason that passion is so persuasive is that it is a highly reliable, though not 100% dependable, signal of excellence. People who love something tend to be good at it or know a lot about it.

For example, how many passionate baseball fans have you met who can’t explain the infield fly rule or why 1-2 is a pitcher’s count but 3-1 a batter’s?  Have you ever met someone who loves baking but whose pies, cakes, and cookies are utterly inedible no matter how many glasses of milk you drink to help choke them down? Do you know a furniture maker who is passionate about his craft but in whose chairs your avoid sitting for fear they will burst apart beneath your weight and deposit you on the floor?

Play the odds and you’ll find that most people who are passionate about their work or a cause or a subject are also experts in that subject. People who do what they love tend to do it well … and other people know this and feel it instinctively.

So passion is not just about making people feel good about who we are and what we do and what we have to offer. It’s about making them think good about us as well. Passion packs a wallop. Use yours to help you get what you want!

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