TL;DR: You need to be passionate about the topic and the problem you are trying to solve. But not only that. You also need to be passionate about the community you are solving it for and people you are solving it with. And many people forget about the last two.
Many people will tell you that you should be passionate about the problem you are trying to solve. That's correct. You really should have some positive (or strongly negative) feelings about the problem you are solving. But it's a common mistake to believe that being passionate about the problem will help you to overcome obstacles and set backs. It won't.
Passion for the problem you are solving is really only one piece of the power which will help you overcome obstacles and persevere. The other pieces are actual people on both sides of the fence. People you are solving the problem for and people you will be solving the problem with. Your early adopters, your testers or colleagues or friends.
I can't tell you how many founders' talks I heard talking about the problem, the solution, the product. And yes, we all get consumed by these topics (some even obsessed) once we work on a problem or project. Yet these topics are really "just technicalities" on the way to a solution. What matters are actual users - community you are solving the problem for. And those who will help you keep going are exactly those users and their (positive) feedback. They will help you to stay on track even if the $$$ numbers don't look good, even if the growth is not what you imagined, even if your investors are bailing out on you.
"I wanna thank you guys, I feel so much better and safer with your device. So much flexibility. I am even teaching my kids how to work with it one line of code at the time."
One feedback like this has the power to get you or the team loosing steam back on track if it comes from the member of the community you are passionate about.
Can't tell you how many people I meet who are not at all involved with and excited about people they are solving problems for. It can give you great pay-check but it can hardly make for exciting days.
It took me a while to see that what is a bad manager for employees that is not-your-passion customer group for a startup. Eventually employee will leave and startup will fail. I realised that many past companies I exited or closed became uninteresting to me exactly because they were serving market for which I stopped feeling any passion. I stopped being excited to meet these customers, to see and understand their problems and their worldview. It simply became "just work".
Are you in the right place regarding passion and interest at your work or studies?
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