The passion trap is a self-reinforcing spiral of beliefs, choices, andactions that lead to critical miscalculations and missteps, mistakessuch as significantly underestimating what is required to get a busi-ness off the ground; greatly over-assuming initial customer interest;making deep, irretrievable commitments to unproven concepts; and,in too many cases, rigidly adhering to a failing strategy until it’s toolate to recover.
One of the most dangerous aspects of the passion trap is the subtle,illusory way it takes hold. On the surface, it masquerades as the kindof heroic determination that fuels every startup success story. Pas-sionate business owners show boldness, commitment, and clarity ofpurpose—qualities we all crave, qualities that feel good. Whether ornot you identify with the confident swagger of Virgin Group’s RichardBranson or Apple’s Steve Jobs, it’s hard to deny that they seem to enjoywhat they do.
However, when an entrepreneur becomes too emotionally at-tached to an idea, boldness can be transformed into arrogance. Com-mitment narrows into a kind of tunnel vision. Cognitive biases filterand bend incoming data to conform to the founder’s hopes and beliefs.Conversations are drained of objectivity. Even worse, these patternsare generally invisible to the founder, and their negative impact is usu-ally delayed over time. Like a termite-infested home, the seeminglysolid startup is eaten from within.