I am a big fan Cal Newport‘s thinking around deep work. His books So Good They Can’t Ignore You and Deep Work are fantastic. I have recommended them often and have personally gotten a lot of value out of exploring deep work practices. He generally dispenses with what he calls the passion hypothesis, i.e. the idea that you should follow your passion — find what you’re passionate about, then make a living of it.

There is tremendous value in simply focusing on value, in creation, in focusing on becoming excellent. Passion is secondary there, you often don’t have to be that excited about the subject. As it turns out though, people tend to acquire the taste, i.e. like the things they are good at. Even so, I have wondered for the last few years how to best create a practical connection to passion. I think I may have found a way of thinking about it that works well for me.

The German word for passion is Leidenschaft. This breaks down to leiden (to suffer) and schaffen (to create). I am (clearly) not an etymologist, but this is how I am drawing meaning from the term. Passion, then becomes an important ingredient in the quest of creating value. Deep work, operating at the edges of your mental capacity, is hard — especially when done over prolonged periods of time. Passion can help you suffer through the process of creating. It allows you to pay the price.

When we are exchanging notes then and you’re telling me about your new idea or your new project, I do care how passionate you are about it. Mentally, I am wondering, how much you are willing to endure hardship, to bring it into reality.

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