What comes first, passion or effort? Or really the question is can you have passion without effort or effort without passion? The answer is neither and no. Without both passion and effort, motivation dies.
Passion without effort, does not generate results. You can have all the passion in the world for an activity, but without consistent effort your passion will not grow or show results. When we find that we love something, consistency keeps our connection with the activity. I studied Vocal Music Education in college. While I do not teach music, I am able to keep a connection to that passion through playing piano and singing locally. While I don’t always have the amount of time I want to invest in music, I do stay connected to that passion by devoting time to practice. Without consistent connection to your passion, it will fade.
Effort without passion will lead to frustration and burnout. When we do something over and over, put in the effort, but do not cultivate our passion for the skill, it will lead to burnout. Often cultivating a passion means setting a goal. This does not mean that the reward needs to be a tangible thing, but there needs to be a sense of accomplishment. When we set personal goals, we have something to work towards and accomplish. Without a goal, we can feel like we are only ‘spinning our wheels,’ making lots of motion but not going anywhere. As a Taekwondo athlete of 26 years I still have goals that I am working to accomplish. I would like to compete and medal in the U.S.A. Taekwondo National Championships. Having this as a goal keeps me motivated to train and improve. With my goal before me I can put in an effort and have something to work towards, helping me maintain a passion for Taekwondo.
In the end, both effort and passion are needed for success. In practice they need to flow from one to the other and back again. You need effort to keep your passion alive, but without passion your motivation will fade, and your efforts will cease.
As teachers we find it vital to partner with the parents of our students to keep them motivated. All students have bad days, days where they will not want to attend class. We encourage parents to still bring their kids. Without the effort the student puts in, they will not maintain their passion. When students start to ‘fuss’ and do not attend class, it becomes easier to start making that the new habit. As their teachers, we always do our best to keep them motivated by making classes exciting and helping students set goals, helping students grow their passions, through effort to get through a moment of low motivation.