Does Your Business Squeeze the Joy Out of Your Passion? - Christine Kane

Seth Godin once wrote: “In order to monetize your work, you’ll probably corrupt it, taking out the magic in search of dollars…”

In other words, when you choose to follow your passion, and make it into your business, there will be a point when the magic and heart will take a back seat to commerce.

It’s enough to stop you in your tracks, isn’t it?

It almost stopped me way back when I was contemplating going full time as a performer and songwriter.  The “business vs passion” thoughts raced through my head at top speed when I was first debating that leap.

These same thoughts worry many people I meet who are just beginning their businesses.

The deeper truth is that until you decide to do something, all the deliberating in the world means nothing.  Your business, as it turns out, is a lot like marriage.  You’re entering into a relationship with something – be it music, consulting, marketing or coaching.

When you enter a relationship with something, you are almost certainly going to love it sometimes, hate it sometimes, obsess sometimes, and want to take a one-way flight to Anything-But-This sometimes.

This is what most people would call “taking the joy” out of it.

(As in — “Wow. I used to love sitting around writing songs. Now I just freakin’ hate it because I have to make money from it. I wish I’d gone to law school and just stayed in that Skynyrd tribute band on the weekends.”)

Will this happen to you if you start a business from your passion or purpose?

Yes. It will. Many times. (Minus the Skynyrd part.)

But, as with marriage, if you’re aware and committed to your relationship (in this case with the business, the service, or your purpose) you will move through this phase into a deeper place.

When I was a musician, did I — as Seth Godin describes — “corrupt” my work “taking out the magic in search of dollars?”

Oh, let me count the ways. (Hey, even Bob Dylan did Victoria’s Secret TV spots!)

But here’s the thing.

Many people have done this.  And lots of them recognize when they’re being inauthentic, and they stop doing it.  Some of them end up loving these aspects of it. It’s a part of the story of that relationship!

Besides, you’re only stuck in those situations if you think you’re stuck in those situations.

And this is not one of those: “Do what you love and the money will follow” speeches.  There may be some truth in sayings like that. But mostly people think this means you’ll never have any challenges along the way.

Here’s the truth.

Regardless of YOUR purpose, the purpose of your (or any) business is to make money.

Many people don’t want to face this reality.  But they’re missing out.  This is actually another lovely element that can build that relationship.  Sort of like when you have kids in your marriage.

For me, the most painful part of going pro as a musician was the bitter moment I recognized that no one – be it manager, agent, label, etc –  was going to come along and rescue me so I wouldn’t have to deal with all that money stuff.

This was when I realized that if I loved my career, and if I wanted to indeed make a successful living at music, that I’d also have to learn how to kick some ass at business, marketing and money.

This moment of disillusionment lasted about a year. (Hey, I wanted to make absolutely certain there was no chance of rescue.)

But then my relationship with music (and with myself) got deeper.  I got better at business and marketing. I got stronger as a person. My passion for everything got more fierce and, in so many ways, more real.

And that’s when I began to make much more money.

I’ve now coached and taught thousands of people who have created successful businesses out of their purposes and passions.

The happiest are the ones who step up and fully embrace their business and the importance of making money at what they do.

They go through ups and downs in this process.

And they screw up along the way.

But they use the relationship with their work, their passion and their business to Uplevel who they are. They stay committed. They stay awake. And they recognize that the passion part is really a daily choice they will always continue to make.

So, now, I’m curious about you.

Has your business ever squeezed the joy out of your passion?  And what did you do about it?  Share in the comments below please!

  • A guy

    Shhhhhhh! Hey Christine, I’ll tell you a secret. Even though your website is geared toward women, many struggling entrepreneurs (including men like me) enjoy your website and get lots of valuable information out of it. But I won’t tell anyone. Your secret is safe 🙂

    • Christine Kane

      thanks anonymous guy!

      I do have many from your gender as clients too! (I just gear my marketing towards women because they have consistently been the ones who are most attracted to what I do and how I do it! 🙂 )

  • Sarah HI

    Yes! yes! YEs! I am an artist. Usually synonymous with passion. Except that I grew to hate art so much while it was my business. My health started to fail because of the stress. So, I’m taking a break. I’m re-evaluating what I want, what I’m actually able to do. Doing art professionally was making my life WORSE. And yet, there hasn’t been a time in my life when art wasn’t at the forefront. Maybe I just need to find a new way to do it. That’s when I found your blog 🙂

  • Wendy

    Great timing on your article! Thank you!
    I’m in the throes of making the decision to move on and facing the hard realities of being in a highly regulated business. Do I stay and face the soul-sucking demands of 1100 pages of new compliance written by a bureaucracy that knows nothing about my industry? Do I tough it out and become an expert and help the people around me? I wonder if they will stay in business? I’ve lost my passion, and I’m not a hero. Maybe it’s time to discover a new passion?

  • Heather

    Yes, absolutely. It squeezed the passion out of my previous career as a designer and now that I’ve launched my own business I’m afraid it’s putting me through yet another squeeze. I’ve been at it with my business for about 2 years now and in some ways I am just beginning to blossom but in other ways I am always wondering if I’m on the right track! When I feel squeezed I recognized the need to step back and evaluate the bigger picture and determine what exactly is making me feel so icky, is it the long hours, the clients I don’t love etc? Then I try to re-focus my intent, staying on track but refining my vision. Thanks for sharing that this is normal.

  • Kimberly

    Amen. It’s all about the commitment. Marriage, business, parenting, whatever. Commitment. (Which does not = “downer!” Commitment can be FUN, juicy, sexy, cool, lucrative, joyful!) Making the choice, over and over, to love what you do, who you’re with, the child you’re given. xo

  • Laurel

    Great article, Christine. I don’t think there is ever a time when I am completely free of these concerns and working on this business-money-marketing jigsaw puzzle in my mind. For a while I scratched my head and said, “But…but…but — this is DAUNTING! I really have to do this strategizing and marketing and facing up to the financials? And I have to KEEP doing it?!” Though I would not admit it to myself before, I now know I was at least hoping to be rescued from having to deal with these more left-brain practical matters. After all, I just wanted to hang out in my right brain and make my art, right?

    But I was not making art. I was kidding myself. Oh, I thought about it all the time — obsessed over it, anguished over comparing myself to other artists and over my perceived lack of creativity, over how HARD it was to feel creative and make art when I have so many tough things going on (big stuff but nothing many of us don’t face in life eventually).

    Strangely enough, it was during the most intense period of challenging life events over the past year or so — parents in their 80s requiring help and attention, father still willing to fight terminal cancer, sister with cancer, who after surgery is on road to recovery, a death in the family, and my own personal financial situation (’nuff said) — that I found refuge in moving to rescue myself. I took small steps one at a time toward setting up a plan to consistently work on 4 slices of your Marketing Pie tool. I follow a schedule for handling each type of marketing task, and I draw my message, content, and goal from my authentic heart and self.

    As I have consistently been working those slices, I have started slowly getting some ideas for other business areas and tasks that need attention and action. Per your advice in programs, I just approach these efforts one at a time and focus first on getting a system in place for each thing as I go. This way it does not get overwhelming, keeps my original marketing efforts from getting lost in the shuffle, and makes progress forward, albeit by inches.

    Interestingly as well, I am making art consistently. I am finally understanding that while I can be inspired by other artists and be open to learning from artists who share techniques and ideas, my art is unique to me. I compare myself to others much less now, I make more art, and my passion for making art is growing instead of withering. Unexpectedly, my passion for my business (and the businessy stuff) is growing too. My left brain has joined hands with my right brain and they are both working for me. In my case, the money is yet to be seen with my physical eyes, but I know I am on a far better (and more passionate) track than I was, and these efforts and changes are feeling very healthy and opening doors of creativity within me

    Is this what you are talking about when you say your clients come to the realization that they now “get it?”. Because I think I am finally getting it more and more as I take action and move forward step by step. Sincere thanks to you.

  • Janelle

    Thanks Christine. Perfect timing!

  • Sharon Knight

    Great article! I am a pro musician and sometimes the constant hustle and the need to crank out new music on a deadline does take the joy out. Other times, though, it is tremendously exciting! I work well under deadlines, so stuff gets done that way. Also-I don’t say yes to crappy gigs. They either have to pay decently or be somewhere I really want to be anyway. What has really helped me is to sell myself not as a musician but as a bringer of enchantment.Folks come not for me but for the experience I bring them. This ensures they come to hear the music. I play a lot of house concerts. I don’t play bars. As for sucking the passion out-that needs to be managed just like any other business burnout. Go for a hike. Create for the sake of creating. Have an artists date and ditch the marketing hat, just for a day.

  • Amanda Young

    I love helping people with their businesses (specifically marketing) and writing about funny experiences I’ve had while raising kids. While I love writing my blog, I never wanted to sell out/commercialize it to make money like other mom blogs with ads and product reviews. I don’t want to talk about celebrity drama or current events. I do however want to sell my book and get the other 4 edited. And I struggle to promote the blog so I just keep writing in hopes that people find it someday or that I get the courage to make it a priority in my life. Same with my consulting business. I love helping people but they never have money or won’t do the work and I’m not sure who does have the money so my ideal client is a bit fuzzy. I’m happy to be doing UYB to fix this. Just yesterday a former client said “You shouldn’t ever do business with me again. I’m sending you December’s check right now (It’s May and I worked for 20% what I should have, putting in double the hours). Thanks for being so patient with me.” And I responded from weakness –“No problem. It’s okay. I understand” but she knew it was a problem. She knew I was job searching and have a family to support. Then I went on to give her 2 more amazing ideas to help her business–for free. I can’t stop giving it away. (My vision board even says “stop giving it away”.) I want to make tons of money but don’t know how to stop being so generous with my knowledge, especially with friends. By next year, I hope to look back at all of this and just laugh. 🙂

    • Christine Kane

      Amanda – Are you coming to my event in June? (I know you told me, but now i can’t remember.) we’ll be covering LOTS of this in Atlanta.

  • Amy

    This article could not come at a better time. I’m a designer and artist and am blessed to have more work than I know what to do with. Lately I’ve been spending 14-18 hours every day working on proposals, hiring artists etc… Not to mention traveling. Yesterday I thought “I think I should have kept my old PR job then at least I’d have weekends off.”

    My challenge is how to manage an overload of work without sacrificing my life and also how to say no to jobs so I don’t take on too much.

    • Christine Kane

      Amy – Not sure if you’ve ever considered a coach – but it sounds like you may really benefit from some guidance in this area. You’re in a VERY natural and normal place of growth – but it sounds like you think you’re the one who has to keep doing it all. There are steps to allow the structure of your business to help you grow faster and easier.

  • Alexandre L’Eveille

    Yup, been there, done that. I allowed myself to let clients treat me like the take-out window at Burger Sling: “I’ll take a logo with a side brochures, and can you supersize that for the same price…and I’m in a hurry…” It was sucking the love for what I do right out of my business. My creativity was squeezed in a vice.

    I knew something had to change but, I was reluctant to go the “package” route—UYB recommends it; other programs suggested it, but I resisted. The way I deal with clients is to NOT treat them as agencies do, where we run them through a programmed money mill and squeeze out what we can. I did not want to be that person. Then a lightbulb went off. I am doing us both a disservice by not offering a holistic solution to their problem…and most of my clients have pretty much the same challenges.

    Packages allow me to take a leadership position–not be pushed around by client bullies who assume they know more than I do how to get them the branding bang for their buck. It puts the runway out in front, so we can both get on board with the program and take their business to greater heights. The clients who can’t see the advantages are not my peeps. I am not as jammed up with deadlines and I make more money. Still not as much as I want, but I’ve just started the package approach 3rd Q of last year. I see the way to go.

    I don’t need to make fear based desperate compromises to what I know works, simply because the clients tell me they only want, let’s say “fries.” If I know the chef’s tasting menu will not only give them sustaining nutrition, but also huge satisfaction they REALLY want, that’s what I propose. If they can’t commit to a bigger vision, I’m pretty sure they aren’t clear in their business goals.

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks for sharing your process here, Alexandre! How awesome to read this – and see you serving at a higher level! Glad Uplevel Your Business could help too! 🙂

  • Shawnee Kilgore

    As you know Christine, playing “bad” music gigs can absolutely suck the life out of you! It’s my least favorite part of anything, because I resent people for not listening, I resent the venue for not paying me more, I resent the mindsets and ruts that have brought me there, and I resent myself for letting it bother me so much. And it DOES bother me soooooooo much that a song that I love and think is really fantastic can suddenly feel silly and worthless, and it HAPPENS!

    What I’ve learned to do is to treat the bad gig like a bad client. I thank it for teaching me what I don’t want, and also use it as a strength builder for embracing my self-worth. If I truly feel good about my songs and what I do, then I should be able to stand up to any non-ideal audience without letting it diminish how I feel about myself and my passion. (Not that I need to continue PURPOSELY strengthening that muscle! : ) ) Just one more step towards letting the non-ideal clients go (rather than the passion!).

    • Christine Kane

      Awesome Shawnee! Sounds like you have a great outlook on it. (And be very aware when the resentment kicks in. That shit’ll kill ya! 🙂 )