THOMAS KELLER // creator of the French Laundry via fastcodesign.com
It’s not about passion. Passion is something that we tend to overemphasize, that we certainly place too much importance on. Passion ebbs and flows. To me, it’s about desire. If you have constant, unwavering desire to be a cook, then you’ll be a great cook. If it’s only about passion, sometimes you’ll be good and sometimes you won’t. You’ve got to come in every day with a strong desire. With passion, if you see the first asparagus of the springtime and you become passionate about it, so much the better, but three weeks later, when you’ve seen that asparagus every day now, passions have subsided. What’s going to make you treat the asparagus the same? It’s the desire.
Unwavering desire is the key to being great. Passion comes and goes, but unrelenting desire will endure. I've developed a Pavlovian response when startup founders begin a conversation "passion." Because usually that first sentence goes: "We're not sure if this startup is our passion." Sometimes they're working on something unpromising, in which case you wouldn't fault them much for deciding to move on. But sometimes it's not... sometimes they have traction, evidence people want it, are willing to pay for it, and then they just walk away from that which thousands of their peers dream of. Just because it's not their passion.
There are no rules and hard absolutes when it comes to what startup founders should do, but I've seen more people quit because it got hard with this excuse of "lost passion" than I care to admit. Do something you're willing to do forever, for the rest of your life. Then you won't be chasing the next passion high, but creating, cooking, doing what you want to do because it is your desire.