Some lessons we learn, some we learn the hard way, and some, well, we keep learning until they sink in. These are my top lessons – that I revisit often because they certainly are still sinking in.
Disciple Vs Motivation
It is so important to be hideously honest. Because no one is perfect, and people need to relate to others. Relating not in perfection, but in imperfection. So let me start by sharing something I learnt in the gym, but actually applies to me every day, in my current journey. You will not always be motivated, and if you rely on motivation alone, you will likely fail. You will want to stay in bed, you will not know what you are doing, you will feel isolated or alone, or truly just ‘I can’t be bothered’.
It is not the motivation that is getting you to your desk each morning, latte in hand. It is discipline. It is the structure and having a purpose, a defined list, a practice and a craft to follow. And when you are starting a business, it is chipping away at lists of things. Every day monumental things will not happen, but it is about achieving small things each day, ticking them off, and ‘chipping away’ at the greater picture, to ensure you are on the right path.
Hard work is HARD
No, really, it is. HARD. If hard work was easy, everyone would do it. The hours, the sacrifice, the risk, the self doubt, the critical evaluation of what you are doing, is it productive? Do you have a product or service or experience that people want? Is it worth it? You aren’t doing it wrong, and you shouldn’t give up. In a culture that talks about ‘working smarter, not harder’ (which I do agree with) it is almost creating a perception that we need not expose ourselves to hard work, or we are doing something wrong. The uncomfortable and inescapable fact is, and will always be – hard work is hard.
Struggle is not a sign you are failing, it is a sign you are growing.
It is the hardest thing to keep going, when it feels like all of your activity is amounting to not much. But there is a brilliant thought that my previous MD, a hugely successful and incredibly kind hearted businesswoman, shared with me many years ago, that I continue to live by, and manage my teams by – it is this:
“Activity breeds activity”
Keep going, keep pushing, stick with it. It is ok to struggle, and it is (or can be) exciting. It means we are growing, we are learning and we are pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone. It is the new ideas, it is the core of innovation. Struggle = growth, if you let it.
How do you re-energise?
We do not need to reinvent the wheel. We need to learn from the masters who built it. When I am feeling exhausted, or demotivated or just generally in a flap (way more often than I care to admit) I get a PodCast on, or read a book. Pick a topic, maybe it is business, mental health, productivity, transformation. There are so many business geniuses out there who willingly share their experiences, their high performance tips and their beliefs which have shaped their success. Not all of them will be relatable, not all will have the same experience as you, or even work in remotely similar fields, but they don’t need to. Perhaps you take ‘one good thing’ away from this. But this ‘one good thing’, is better than the overwhelming ‘no good things’ you had before you listened. Take this lesson and run with it. Let the energy flow through you and reignite the spark, even just a little.
Just do the next right thing.
In a landmine of decision making, and especially when you are setting up a business, or navigating in a new role, trying to wade through subject matter you have never had to think about before (there was always a department for that), it feels like all you can do is make each decision, the next right thing. Not to say you won’t make mistakes, you will, but if you stick as close to your values and beliefs as possible, it will help you choose the next right thing, even if it doesn’t propel you forward, it certainly is not going to set you back.
Reward is in the journey.
Did you ever really work for something, like a promotion, or a pay-rise, and after all the hard work and effort and never give up attitude, when you finally reached the goal it felt… underwhelming? Something I am learning, every day, is that the true reward is the journey itself. It is settling in and getting comfortable and enjoying the process, rather than gritting your teeth to race to the finish line only to think.. What now? The hard part, I find, is remembering that the journey is where all the fun is.
When people offer you help. Take it.
I am notoriously bad at accepting things. Presents, compliments, feedback. But one that I am getting better at, is accepting help. People genuinely want to help you and to contribute, and I am realising how fantastic this is. One day, I hope I will be lucky enough to offer my help in return, so in the interim, I graciously accept the offers of assistance, because the people offering are far wiser and more talented in their given fields than I could ever dream, and there is no need ‘to be an island’. Even in pursuit of our individual goals, we are all in this together.
FEAR : False Evidence Appearing Real.
Okay final one for tonight. FEAR. Especially for me, keeping the fear of failure at bay. I recently heard this acronym and I love it. It reshapes how I approach the things that scare me (like no-one ever wanting to do business with me and destroying my own career at 32).
I am sure this list of lessons will only continue to grow, almost on a daily basis, but as one starting out on this journey these points resonate with me, and I felt compelled to share, because maybe one or two of them might resonate with you too.
Happiness Ambassador & Recruiter