On motivation and failure

It happened again last week. This time on a train, talking to a former colleague.

Him: I wouldn’t have the motivation to have my own business. There’s too much good stuff on telly.

Me: [I don’t remember what I actually said. Something non-committal, while thinking, here we go again.]

Him: I mean, I wouldn’t be motivated to go out and get the work. I like having someone telling me what to do and making sure I do it.

He’s an intelligent, ambitious, very knowledgeable person who’s very good at what he does and has a pretty senior position. I’m reasonably sure his boss doesn’t need to stand looking over his shoulder all day. And yet he wouldn’t be motivated if the business were his own? Really?

If you run your own business, I bet you get into conversations like this all the time. I know I do. And I don’t think they are really about motivation at all.

I have a suspicion that when people say they wouldn’t be motivated to work if they had their own business, they are really saying, “I’d be scared“. I’d be on my own. I’d have to make all the decisions. I might not get the customers. People might not want what I’m selling. And there would be nobody I could blame for that. I might fail.

Yes, of course. Of course you’ll be scared. Of course you’ll make mistakes. But you’ll learn from them. You’ll do better next time. And while there may be nobody except you to blame for them, there’ll also be nobody else taking the credit when you do something well. Which brings us to motivation.

We all have days when motivation is a bit thin. Today, for example, all I really want to do is curl up with the Michael Connelly book I’ve just downloaded and eat chocolate all day. (The only chocolate in the house is in a hidden advent calendar that is NOT MINE. This does not make resisting its call much easier.)

But there’s nothing like a healthy bit of fear to create motivation:

If I don’t get this contract, I won’t get the income I need next month.

I need to meet this deadline or they might not offer me any more work.

Fear is just our mind’s way of saying, “I care about this. I care what happens here.”

A vital part of finding motivation is to care about what we’re trying to achieve. If my fomer colleague had a business that he believed in and cared about, I bet even he could find the motivation to go out and get clients, and get the work done, however much he’d rather be watching telly at that moment in time.

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Wow, there’s a whole world out there!

Say yes. Yes to the random opportunity that comes your way. Yes to the invitation you didn’t see coming. Yes to something a bit different. The tiniest yes can start an avalanche of positivity.

It started with a call from a number I didn’t recognise that I nearly didn’t answer. Would I like to be part of an expert panel on BBC Radio Suffolk, discussing what makes young people cite ‘fear of failure’ as a  major reason for not starting a business? Well, despite having neglected this blog for a while now, and despite not feeling much like an expert in anything, an opportunity to discuss life and business with like-minded people sounded like fun.

So I had my radio debut on Mucha Murapa’s Monday evening show and enjoyed every minute. The content of the discussion will furnish many future posts I’m sure, but in this one I’m focusing on the experience itself; an experience which left me thinking, “wow, there’s a whole world out there that I’ve been missing.”

It’s so easy when living and working at home to stay in a safe and cosy cocoon and rarely venture beyond it. I work remotely with most of my clients, and have never even met several of them except as a voice on the end of a phone. I like my office, I like my home and garden, and I like my family and friends, including my ‘coaching tribe‘. Most of the time, that’s enough. But yesterday evening I found another part of my tribe: some of the many other people running their own businesses in my local area. Chatting to artist Andy Greenacre, Cad Taylor of Ipswich Community Media and, of course, Mucha himself – all in very different businesses from mine – I thought, these are my people.

Andy’s wife Cassie, of My Thrifty Life, joined in the chat off air and inspired me to dust off my keyboard and get writing. And meeting her and the others made me determined to keep exploring this wide world, keep meeting new people and keep enjoying and learning new things.

I’m going to keep saying yes. More than that, I’m going to actively look for new opportunities to say yes to! Can you offer me any? What will you say yes to?

Never ignore an 8 year old! — Work from Home Wisdom

by Liz Proctor When you were an 8 year old, if someone had asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would you have told them? How close are you to having that thing in your life and business now? OK, so being an astronaut, professional Lego builder or the World’s…

via Never ignore an 8 year old! — Work from Home Wisdom

Live your story

Sometimes (perhaps always), you don’t need to see the whole road ahead.

Be bold.

Try something, reach out to someone, take a step without knowing the full and final story – because none of us can ever know the full and final story until we’ve lived it.

And it’s only in living our story that we create it.

Born in the wrong century

Bowl in hand, I wander slowly along the hedgerow, seeking out the freshest (and cleanest!) nettle tips and a handful of the brightest Jack-by-the-hedge leaves.  Cooked briefly, the nettles lose their sting and taste like spinach, and Jack-by-the-hedge certainly lives up to its other name of garlic mustard.

Never mind that my ultimate destination is the little veg patch at the bottom of the garden where I’ve planted lettuce and radish and have my eye on some juicy thinnings.  Never mind that these fresh greens are destined to be mixed into a bowl of spaghetti and cheese gathered from the supermarket and not from the wild.  (But if there was such a thing as a spaghetti tree I would plant it, and a cheese tree would be worth its weight in gold!)

Never mind, then, that my meal won’t be authentically prehistoric.  Even with the modern additions, collecting these leaves from the hedge connects me to a way of life that feels right and stirs up echoes of a past I’d like to visit.

But I think I’d want to come back to the present too, if only for the cake!

DO ALL THE THINGS

Are there too many things to do, or is it just that we (or I, at least) have an overriding need to do ALL THE THINGS and – here’s the real problem – do them ALL AT ONCE, NOW?

Everything we do, we do in stages.  Even something as simple as making a cup of tea involves a whole series of steps, from getting up off the chair to filling the kettle, switching it on, and so on.

So when we’re starting a new venture, or simply trying to get done all the things that we’re committed to doing, let’s remember that we can’t do them all at once.  We can only do them one step at a time.

No prizes for guessing who this post is written for.  You, my reader, of course, but mostly as a reminder to myself that I can’t do all the things all at once!

Of rats and women

A rat is nosing around the garden in broad daylight, sniffing out and devouring Benjy the rabbit’s leftovers.  He is sleek and young and his fur shines in the sunshine.  I wonder if I should be chasing him away, but he’s outside, where he should be, not trespassing into the house or shed, or even digging in the compost bin.  So instead I watch him, wondering where he sleeps and whether he (or she, of course) is breeding a host of baby rats with whom I may eventually have to do battle.

I think of him sleeping in a nest somewhere, in a cosy nook he’s made for himself, and am glad that, at least for the moment, we can live amicably side by side.  If Benjy is willing to share his leftovers, so am I.

Then I read about the weasel that brought the Large Hadron Collider to a standstill and I wonder if perhaps I’m being too forgiving!