Conventional business advice is to embrace “one thing” – a singular focus, and many will tell you straight up to stop pursuing your passions if you want to succeed in business.
And yet, there are many examples of business leaders, especially women, who not only turned their passion into career success, but often intertwined multiple passions to stand out in their niche while deriving even greater fulfillment from their work.
Online business entrepreneur Marie Forleo generally gets credit for bringing the term “multipassionate” into mainstream entrepreneur lingo, while others refer to this combination of creativity and ability as “multipotentiality.”
Whatever you call it, as humans we are undeniably multifaceted and many businesswomen reach this inflection point where the calling to feed our careers with the energy that flows from our deepest convictions surpasses any desire to play it safe.
Whether you might consider a more authentic approach to your work by bringing your passions out of the shadows, or you’ve already taken the plunge of putting them front and center, the potential upside is undeniable, as are the potential pitfalls.
For those of us who pursue a passion-driven career in business, we can look and feel scattered, disorganized, or simply uncommitted.
It’s common to feel plagued by indecision and a sense of failure as we play with models, ideas, and products. While most of us can agree that failing fast and (hopefully) forward are prerequisites of success, experiencing that process, often solo and as a woman in a male-dominated business world, can feel like we’re simply failing.
The question isn’t, “Is it possible to combine your passions with your business?”
Women have long set the bar for breaking through any perceived boundaries.
The question is:
“If you are a multipassionate businesswoman, what’s the best way to pursue your interests and succeed?”
I sat down with three passionate businesswomen to find out.
Carmell Clark has combined multiple passions into her business as a transformation coach with an emphasis on international adventure, which also lends a broader perspective from her experiences helping other business professionals take those same steps:
“First and foremost, embrace and love your unique combination of strengths and passions. Frame this combination in your own mind and in how you communicate your pursuits as a POSITIVE that gives you a competitive advantage.
When confronting a potential pivot, instead of asking, “Can I do this?,” ask: “Do I want to do this? Why do I want to do this? Is this aligned with my core values and what matters most to me? Will this option still be available in 5 or 10 years, or do I need to act now or never?
At the end of the day, you are the one who has to answer to you. Are you happy? Are you fulfilled? Who cares what other people think. Follow your intuition and surround yourself with role models and supports who have proven it’s possible.”
Amanda Jones is a former journalist and a meditation and yoga instructor who followed her instincts to the recent convergence of her passions in a new business, Yoga Experiences. She shares her perspective in looking back at the process:
“The best advice I got was from my teacher, Deepak Chopra, who said, “First find your passions.” Your passion, in his opinion, is something that you cannot fail at. What is that one thing you know you can do, and then where does that intersect with what the world needs? How can I serve?
The philosophy as a business owner has to be: nurture your own well-being first. When you’re happy, that shows up for your clients, in your products, and in your brand. You want to put your best, whole self into your business pursuits.
All of my past experiences have been absolutely necessary to come to this harmonious business that I have now. It’s a puzzle piece pathway that has come together. You absolutely can include multiple passions within one business, but don’t be afraid to step outside that business and follow something for your own personal growth. Maybe it becomes a hobby or maybe a new business organically grows from that pursuit.”
Lyn Christian became an “accidental coach” in 1998 and took her passion for entrepreneurship and career reinvention full-time in 2004 through her business, SoulSalt. Lyn simultaneously weaves in her focus on movement in her messaging, from competing in triathlons to the mastery of fencing:
“You have to define success for yourself. Become aware of your core values. Practice being curious. Start by doing rather than agonizing over options in your head. Try things on for size.
When you’re in that ambiguity zone, there are several tips that can help sustain you: focus on self-care and getting adequate sleep, a good diet, and exercise; engage in learning; connect with sources of support and love to help you persist and evaluate your blindspots; take risks and be open to opportunities; and engage in creative activity, such as art, music or doodling.
Often finding our path in business is akin to being a sculptor, where we start off with the large block of clay and, little by little, we pull parts away to reveal the art within.”
In the pursuit of a sustainable and fulfilling business/life, there are no rules; no black and white criteria to follow. Only you decide whether your passions are private pursuits, unique strengths that lend to your messaging, or at the core of your work.
We can all start by unboxing ourselves as businesswomen and championing the whole, uniquely capable woman who shows up everyday to get the job done better because of her passions.