I still love my business! Don’t I?
by Mark Leary on October 08, 2011
Hey, that's why they call it work right? Not every day is fun. That's why I'm successful! I do the hard stuff that no one wants to do.
Sound familiar? Not buying it anymore? Me either.
When I started my business almost a decade ago the world was simple. Sell my products and services or die. I wasn’t armed with an inspirational product or service that I thought was ready to change the world. I'll tell you from experience that the "fear of dying" will motivate a person to work pretty freakin' hard and not question its impact on Human Self-Actualization. 10 years down the line my motivations are very different. A few rungs up the Maslowian hierarchy and my rose colored glasses may be color-shifting. But why is that? Too much repetition? Am I just bored? Here is what I have found. Working every day and "filling the voids,” "being market driven.,” and "following best practices" all have one very deadly thing in common.
They are killing your soul
"Whoh! What?? I thought I was supposed to do all that stuff? I read all Jim Collins' books and I memorized the e-Myth! That's what I'm supposed to do!"
Well sort of… Best practices are great since they save a lot of time when applied to things that everyone has to do. But to paraphrase a little from Seth Godin and The Purple Cow, doing what other people do when it really matters is the best way to fade away and die. And die slowly you will…
"Sure I get that we have to "differentiate" to stay competitive but what does that have to do with enjoying my business?"
Simple. You will love every second of the day (well maybe not every second…) if you are lit up with passion! And Passion is only ignited ONE WAY.
una de les formes
una de las formas
One stinking way...The business has passion ONLY WHEN. Your. Work. Reflects. YOUR. Soul.
This could just as easily be written as "When your LIFE reflects your soul" but stay with me here. I'm not talking about the difference between a "lifestyle" business and a "wealth creation" business. That's a great and underutilized question but this is equally important for Steve Jobs and Apple as much as it is for that amazing taco truck with the lunatic chef down on the corner.
Here's how it worked for me. In a nutshell, I started out with the typical "entrepreneurial seizure" a la e-Myth ("I can do this better than my boss. It's not that hard!"), absolutely no clue how to run business, and a keen desire to pay my bills. Several years of diligent study, endless trial and error, and I ended up with a decent business and minimal belief that I had accomplished anything truly useful to the universe. But here's the ironic part: I fixed it by using a best practice.
The simple and innocuous exercise was to determine our corporate core values. During this process something unexpected happened. We discovered that we had real passion about our values that were lying latent in our culture already (but didn't know). Not only that, these values were things we were already doing (but not enough). Not only that, I realized that if I followed these core values, I was following MY core values. Not only that, if I did them in an extreme way, I would be following my own core values in an extreme way. This thought made me strangely happy. But why? What changed?
This changed: The values transformed from daily activities into SACRED IDEALS that represent WHY we do this. WHY it matters. Even more, they are the REWARD in and of themselves. Core values moved from "best practices" to the ABSOLUTE GOLD STANDARD of EXCELLENCE, REWARD and amazingly FUN!
Extreme Values = Extreme Fun!
Are you on fire? Do you still really, truly love it? (Newlywed entrepreneurs don't count but you will one day). Odds are NOT GOOD that you do based on my unscientific-but-first-hand account of hundreds entrepreneurs I know. If not, why not? Do you care? If so, ask yourself these questions right now!
- Ten years from now, when I'm totally free, how am I spending my time?
- How can I make that interest an ESSENTIAL asset to that business right now?
- What about your future makes it inspiring? Freedom? Learning? Challenge? Risk?
- How the heck could I do more of that now in a way that builds my business? (More new products? New markets? Teaching people? Learning from people?)
- What rules are you breaking?
- What rules can you find that need breaking?
- Look again. There are rules your soul needs you to break NOW! (You will know them because they scare you.)
- What have you always wanted to do in the business but were afraid to try because it makes no real sense?
- What parts of your business are fine as they are and what part of your service or product just never worked right, felt right, or inspires some loathing?
- Whose standards are you living up to? Your customers or yours? Which one is really higher?
- What part of your business would you do every weekend for the next year and LOVE!!
- What would happen if you got REALLY drunk right now and did exactly what you wanted to do with the business? What would be good and bad about it?
Finally: Given the above, what is holding you back from being YOU in the EXTREME? AND WHY IS YOUR BUSINESS ANY DIFFERENT THAN YOUR LIFE. (Think about Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison. People don't even like being around those guys. They're nuts! But more importantly, the person and the leader are the same. The business is the leader.)
And yes, if there is truly nothing that inspires you, you actually ARE screwed. But, odds are low this is you if you are reading this. There's something simmering in there somewhere. You just need to find it. Patience Grasshopper….
What do you think? What keeps you motivated or reinvigorates you? What worked for you? Let me know!
Further reading. If you don't know the links below you better get reading...
Mark is Involved with industry groups and entrepreneur type organizations all over the world and loves to share ideas. He LOVES his business now but hasn't always felt that way. His personal motto is that Every Second Can be an Adventure but more than anything he wants to be better and he wants you to be better too.
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