Tool #3: Motivation!
We all know that motivation is one of the most important tools for an entrepreneur: we all go through challenges, and motivation is what sees us through.
There’s a huge difference between being a motivated individual, and feeling the short-term surge of energy and adrenaline that most of us ascribe as motivation.
As an entrepreneur, it’s crucial that we push past the surface-level motivation that comes and goes like a whim of desire. It’s key to our success that, when the music stops pumping and you’re no longer producing the overload of epinephrine, you understand how to stay motivated.
Recently on Clubhouse, Elon Musk was once asked what words of encouragement he would give an entrepreneur in need of encouragement. But his response was hard-hitting and to the point:
“If you need words of encouragement, don’t be an entrepreneur.”
- Elon Musk
There has been so much back and forth on whether or not he’s right, or what the phrase should be. But when it comes down to it, Musk is getting at something that most people never realize:
True Motivation is Internal.
The point I’m trying to make is that words of encouragement are often simply external stimulation. And if you constantly need external motivation to pull you forward, you’re never going to get where you want to go.
Your motivation must come from deep inside you, and pull you forward from within.
I don’t believe in Motivational Speakers.
And this is exactly why.
Motivational speakers and videos are great, but they can’t be your driving force. They get your blood pumping, trigger a bunch of neurons to fire, and happy hormones to be released into your brain. Which is a great surge of energy, but it won’t last. Especially not in the hard times, and we all know that hard times come and go often!
If you want your motivation to last, you have to get in tune with what keeps you going from an internal perspective. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up to fail.
External motivation will not pull you through the difficult times, so you have to find motivation within.
But motivation hinges upon self-awareness.
Without self-awareness, we’ll never be able to understand or tap into our driving force.
Here’s a couple reasons why…
1: Recognition = Management
If you can’t recognize what you instinctively get motivated and excited about, you’ll never be able to motivate yourself when things get rough.
You might be thinking “Hey, I know what I love and what I don’t love. Isn’t that the same thing as self-awareness?” And you’d be right to an extent. But self-awareness goes beyond simply knowing what you love and don’t love doing.
Especially because sometimes two unrelated actions are intertwined, and we can mistake our reaction to the result as our reaction to the action. In other words, we can get confused as to what is actually motivating and exciting us.
When I first moved into my house, I thought I loved cleaning.
I’d spend the whole weekend cleaning, because I enjoyed the sensation of sitting down in an immaculate house at the end of the day. It was wonderful! But over time, I realized that I didn’t actually enjoy the cleaning itself. I enjoyed the sensation of sitting down in a clean house (I. E., the result rather than the action).
And when I recognized this important distinction, I could make room for the things that truly excited and motivated me. I could take the cleaning which wasn’t helping me feel any better and outsource it to someone who it would benefit, so I could spend that time leaning into my own creative motivational sources.
When you recognize your true motivators, it allows you to manage your time and energy in such a way that you can spend more time in motivating activities, rather than draining activities.
2: Creativity = Motivation
Motivation is contingent upon our creativity and creative juices.
Don’t believe me? Think back to the last time you were really jazzed up about a project, and found yourself knocking out every single item on your list. I’d be willing to bet that you were feeling like a million bucks and were designing creative solutions to every single problem that came your way. And I’d be even more willing to bet that it was during a time where you were taking extremely good care of yourself: when you were well-rested, and loved your hobbies.
Most often, a lack of motivation is a signal that your creativity engine is out of gas and that you’re drained and exhausted. So it’s important to be able to get yourself to a creative space and pursue creative activities.
Being creatively drained is especially detrimental to entrepreneurs, because our jobs revolve around creativity! (Finding creative solutions, creating new products, building new paths, breaking down industry barriers, etc.)
With so much creativity necessary for our jobs, entrepreneurs need to know how to feed their creativity which feeds their motivation. We have to be able to recognize when an activity is draining rather than feeding our creativity, so we can take a step back from it. And that doesn’t mean that we are done with it forever, it just means we might need a break from that activity.
So if you’re no longer feeling jazzed up about marketing plans (or whatever normally gets you excited), maybe it’s time to outsource those for a few weeks/months until you feel ready to dive back into them.
In general, I periodically have to take a break from my hobbies one at a time.
Toward the beginning of the year, I had to take a break from painting and artwork. In early January and all through December, I was creating a ton of artwork for the Grow Retreat so we could put it around the venue. It was awesome, because it was fun to create and it made the event unique even to the venue, because we put so much custom-made artwork up for the event! I had a blast creating so much artwork!
But afterwards, I’d created so much artwork that it was no longer feeding my creative side. It wasn’t a source of motivational creativity for me. So I set it aside for a short time until it held the same sense of wonder, excitement, and creativity that it had prior to the intense month and a half of art-creation.
Creativity fuels our motivation. So we have to take care of ourselves and be sure we’re leaning into the creative activities that truly motivate us.
All of this goes back to my first point: True Motivation is Intrinsic
If you want to truly go far and achieve your goals, it’s time to sit down and become self-aware so that you can understand your motivation and self-motivate. Because there will always be more storms and challenges in life, but your internal drive can get you through all of them if you treat it right!
Internal motivation transforms obstacles into opportunities.