Does financial risk carry more weight than the risk of losing a passion or an ambition? Even the words appear to convey different weights: “financial” vs “passion”.

The people putting in the money to start a venture carry a risk, of course. And at the same time, the people who bring the passion, ideas, and who are doing their lives’ work is also carrying a risk – that of the potential loss of their lives’ work.

We have all heard stories of the money person taking the work of the visionary person and perverting it to make more money, to the loss of the latter. We have also heard of stories of the visionary person who totally pissed the money person’s money against the wall and failed to deliver anything of value (financial or other).

There are two camps here, the polar extremes being: One is about using money to make more money. The other is using other people’s money to manifest dreams. One cares more about money, the other the work itself.

And yet, one cannot exist without the other*.

Do we in general tend to see the money side as the more side of the coin? Do we tend to see the person carrying the financial risk as the one taking the greater risk? This assumption implies that losing money is more painful than losing a life’s work.

Financial loss is tangible and immediately understandable by everyone. The loss of a passionately created piece of work, on the other hand, is less immediately tangible. Everyone can appreciate losing (or getting) $1000. But only those who have passionately invested in a significant piece of work – writing a book, starting a business, bringing up a child – can appreciate what it is like to have that taken away from them.

It can be easy to say: “Oh well, so your business partner is an arsehole. It is only business. Just get over it and you can start again.” Would you say the same to a parent who has lost a child to divorce or illness?

The loss of a work of passion can trigger a chain reaction. Think loss of self belief, loss of income, loss of effectiveness, loss of productivity, loss of the will to live… (I know this very well – having lost a business a few years ago.)

It is perhaps less easy to say to someone who lost some money in a failed venture: “Oh well, it is only money. You can go and make some more.” Especially if the sum is substantial. (Oh course, how substantial is substantial will vary.)

Is our society currently set up to value money over works of passion? Is there more recourse to address financial losses? What do you think?

* Unless you take into account instances where great work are created despite the lack of money. Where creation happens for its own sake. Blogs, open source software, people sharing experience and giving advice on the Internet etc. Money on its own does not begat more money. Even investments depend on someone creating something somewhere down the chain.