Is Passion a Habit?

Mountain view Santorini, Greece. Photo/

As American psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth explains after her study and visit with those who are considered models of success in their industry, passion, is in fact, a habit.

She sought to answer the question of why some succeed and others fail? In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance she defines many things that lead to a commitment to success, one of those key components is passion. Unlike many were thought to believe, passion is not only some creative thought process that comes from the heart or something that has to get your heart pumping at all hours of the day. In Duckworth’s research and meetings with individuals from successful athletes to wine curators she learned what made them the best in their craft was four key components of passion that need to be practiced or honed in on habitually.

Let’s take the wine curator for example, (wine curators offer expert consultation on buying, storing, serving and tasting wine) on an NPR radio broadcast of the Hidden Brain, Duckworth explains when meeting a top wine curator she had her reservations about what exactly made him tick, other than the chance to drink wine all day. What she learned is that despite her reservations, one of the things that made him the best at what he did was a sense of purpose, in other words, the wine curator truly believed that being an expert in wine was meaningful and beneficial to people beyond himself.

The other key components of passion according to Duckworth’s research are:

Interest: She found that each person she met truly had a genuine interest in what they did.

Hope: A sense of hope for the future, for the unknown, for the day-to-day, whatever the motivation for hope, it was a key measure for success. Hope is defined as a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.

Capacity for deliberate practice: One of the most important components of passion, which leads to success, is the capacity for deliberate practice. Essentially making a habit of practicing the component of your craft or career that really isn’t so fun. If you were to be a filmmaker, possibly one of the least fun aspects of filming would be editing. But as Duckworth notes, creating a deliberate practice of editing will not only make you better at your work, but possibly the most successful in your industry.

Duckworth shows us that the key to outstanding achievement is not natural talent or creative passion but focused and persistent practiced habits (grit) enabling passion to formulate success.