I had coffee with a good friend this week who is considering a drastic change in her professional career—based on what she senses is a deep personal desire and interest in a new direction. She wanted my advice.

I keep hearing that young people should follow their passions, involve their lives in activities with deep purpose, follow their dreams…. Is this passion enough to be successful?

Passion is defined as a strong, powerful, exciting, and compelling interest. Some examples are as follows:

  • “I want to help my company be globally impactful.”
  • “I want to help those less fortunate realize their potential.”
  • “I want to be the world’s best parent.”
  • “I want to shoot par golf every round”.

I recently read a very good article, “Bulletproof Mindset: How to Build Grit.” The author builds on several key ideas from Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance:

  • Passion about your idea, your job, your hobby, your mission in life, is critical, BUT passion is not enough.
  • Perseverance is a necessary complement to passion. Achieving your goals requires “a mindset that accepts the cost.” The author states it “requires the willingness to acknowledge and rise from defeat, and that isn’t easy. It’’ about making a conscious decision not necessarily to ignore the potential pain, but to embrace and accept it. If you aren’t aware of the costs, you won’t last long.”
  • Success never occurs overnight. It correlates with the time invested.

Let me use a simple—perhaps shallow—example. I love to play golf—I love the walk, I love the way it feels when I occasionally hit the ball correctly, and I love striving to do something well that’s really very hard. It’s a passion of mine. However, I acknowledge I’m never going to play on the Senior PGA Tour; I just don’t possess the physical and mental capabilities at that level, but that doesn’t prevent me from studying the game, religiously practicing my swing, working on my flexibility, lifting weights, and making time in an already crowded schedule to play. I must work at golf. My passion for the game keeps me interested. BUT it’s the discipline to work—perseverance—even after a terrible round, to keep going to the practice range and to keep playing that makes me better.

So, what was my advice to my friend? If you’re excited about doing the hard work to restart your career; if you understand the real costs and sacrifices it will require; and if you’re willing to discipline your time to continuously getting better: Go for it!