Let me make this as clear as possible.

  1. When you work hard at something, you become good at it.
  2. When you become good at doing something, you will enjoy it more.
  3. When you enjoy doing something, there is a very good chance you will become passionate or more passionate about it.
  4. When you are good at something, passionate and work even harder to excel and be the best at it, good things happen.

Don’t follow your passions, follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.

Mark Cuban has a very loud and divisive personality. And that’s putting it lightly. Many people find his antics distasteful and classless, whereas others admire his entrepreneurial spirit and genuine authenticity. Whatever you think of Mark Cuban the man, you cannot deny that he has had a wildly successful career. He’s the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, co-owner of 2929 Entertainment, co-founder of Broadcast.com, and the wealthiest star of ABC’s Shark Tank by a long shot.

Oh, and he also has an estimated net worth of about $3.4 billion, a figure that has grown about 50% in the last five years. To say that Mark Cuban knows a thing or two about success and making money would be a serious understatement.

In an age where almost anything is possible and just about everyone is being sold on the “American Dream,” many of us are told to pursue our passions. You don’t have to flip burgers or wash cars for the rest of your life if that’s not what you want to do. Enjoy basketball? Love photography? Passionate about macrame?

Just do what you love and the money will follow. Except it won’t. A hobby doesn’t become a viable career by the very virtue of your enjoyment. You need to put in the hard work. You need to be focused. You need to treat it like a business.

Instead of enjoying something and then choosing to work hard at it (which could actually detract from its enjoyment), Mark Cuban encourages you to take exactly the opposite approach. Find the thing you’re willing to work hard at doing and you’ll get good at it. When you do, the enjoyment, the passion, and the success can follow.

It’s not just about hard work for its own sake. It needs to serve a purpose. That’s why Productivityist Mike Vardy has grown tired of the word “hustle” too. The modern fetishizing of the “hustle” has led people to pursue a lot of mindless busywork rather than moving with directed passion. What are you doing right now that is moving you closer to your goals?

The most patriotic thing you could do as an American is get filthy, stinking rich, and then pay lots in taxes.

To order to be exceptional, sometimes you have to discard conventional wisdom. Or at least turn it on its head. Just as Mark Cuban says hard work comes before passion, Shawn Achor says that we should focus on being happier in order to be more successful (and not the other way around).

Because when you’re happier, you’ll be happier to work harder. And when you work harder, you’ll enjoy it more and become more passionate about it. And hard work coupled with intense passion can lead to some very “good things.”