What does it take for you to succeed?
Many believe that it’s traits like intelligence and natural skill.
Famous athletes come to mind: a lot of them are believed to be ‘born for sports’ because of their biological advantages, making them talented in their fields since their childhood years.
Pro athletes like Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, and Boban Marjanovic are said to have the perfect physique for their sports. Usain Bolt, who already had the legs for running, also benefits from a gene that gives him a rich supply of fast-twitch muscle fibres.
But while biological lottery and natural talent do play a role in dominating sports, it takes far more than those to become a champion that the likes of Phelps, Biles, and Bolt have become.
And what it takes is motivation.
Ever wondered how a lot of great athletes also become successful entrepreneurs?
The list goes on.
Their success outside the stadium is not a coincidence, nor was it from any natural business skills. Great athletes undergo plenty of mental training to overcome any hurdle no matter how difficult it gets.
They simply applied what they learned in business, too.
Whether it’s sports, theatre, art, music, etc., reaching great heights doesn’t depend on your talent.
Sure, it matters to an extent - talent makes you good at something more quickly. However, that alone won’t take you far if you don’t work hard. This is proven by success stories that centre around grit (rather than their father’s bank account).
That’s why one of my personal inspirations is the Beatles.
The Beatles’ popularity came out of nowhere. But while it looked that way, they didn’t become legendary musicians overnight.
Those who’ve read a bit about them would know that they started slow, worked hard for four years, got rejected by at least five record labels, then finally caught their big break.
Doesn’t sound too hard though, right?
Well, let me tell you: when I say that they worked hard, I mean that they worked extremely hard.
“We were put in this pigsty. We were living in a toilet, like right next to the ladies’ toilet. We’d go to bed late and be woken up next day by the sound of the cinema show and old German fraus pissing next door,” John Lennon said, recalling their days and nights performing at the Indra Club, Hamburg in 1960.
Their work wasn’t a joy either - the club was a mess, the stage was cramped, and the pay wasn’t much.
But what made their work in Hamburg the most difficult was their impossible schedule. It’s hard to imagine working nonstop daily without a single day off - but that’s exactly what life was like for the band in their three-month stay in the German city, and under horrible conditions no less!
But their 600 hours of daily and nightly hard work paid off. All that gruelling work and practice made the Beatles better, more confident stars-in-the-making.
They faced several rejections in the next three years in the UK, but that didn’t stop them from persevering and continuously improving all the same, until they moved to the US and made an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.
Then they conquered the world with their music.
Many people say that the reason why they haven’t achieved success is because they’re not intelligent or talented enough.
But that’s just another lazy excuse to not work hard. It’s clear that after all their record label rejections that the Beatles didn’t start out as the most talented band performing. They had to go through many Hard Day’s Nights where they were working like dogs before they became the kings of rock.
I know it’s almost unthinkable how they managed to keep going, but they did anyway. The key to their success? Unbreakable motivation.
They were so determined to reach their goals that they directed all their time and energy into reaching them. They kept practising and trained their minds to keep their eyes on the prize in all their work.
Sound familiar? It should, because that’s exactly how Olympic champions succeed too.
Your career as an entrepreneur should be no different. With constant motivation, giving up and accepting mediocrity will never be options for you.
By being patient with the everyday grind and resolute to reach your dreams, you’ll find yourself growing better and better as you climb to where you envision yourself to be.
It’s easy to tell someone, “Just keep yourself motivated.” But if it were that easy to actually do it, then none of us would be struggling so much to find motivation in the first place.
Luckily, there are ways on how you can build your motivation and stay motivated consistently. As a small business owner, here are some ways to do it:
Start by visualising the life you want. What kind of life or career constitutes ‘success’ for you? What is your main goal? Your biggest dream?
This needs to be something you really want, and if you haven’t figured that out yet, take the time you need to think about it.
Only then can you start listing down smaller goals and milestones, and they need to be aligned with your main goal.
Having clarity on what you want to achieve is crucial in building motivation, because it’s your main goal that will guide your actions and help you make the right decisions that will lead you to success.
I’m sure you’ve met a lot of people who applied for certain degrees or studied medicine or law just because their parents told them to.
And I’m sure that among those people, some of them ended up changing careers because they were unhappy and decided it wasn’t what they wanted for themselves.
Following someone else’s goal instead of your own is not uncommon, but it’s still a big hindrance from keeping you motivated and ultimately, for becoming successful.
Doing tasks every day just because that’s what you were told is something that’s meant for machines - not for human beings.
Working towards someone else’s goal runs the risk of you losing direction. Getting used to it will eventually lead you to forget your own goals. You’ll end up demotivated and exhausted, and you’ll start to hate your job (or tolerate it at best).
So invest in yourself.
Make sure that whatever you do aligns with your personal goals and leads you towards reaching them.
One thing a majority of people don’t know is that we’re given second, third, fourth - a world of chances. For this reason, many tend to give up after making a huge blunder.
But life goes on after mistakes happen, and so should we.
I explained this thoroughly in a previous blog. Failure is normal and must never be the reason why we stop chasing our dreams. They don’t define you, and trust me, based on my experience, the world eventually forgets that you made the mistakes that you did.
In fact, making mistakes is good for business - they’re lessons in disguise. They make you wiser and stronger - better equipped to reach your goals.
If the Beatles never gave up even after at least five record label rejections, then you can rise above your failures too.
The path to success is riddled with obstacles, some more difficult than others.
So fully committing to your goal means wanting to reach it badly. And wanting something badly means preparing to sacrifice for it.
To succeed in achieving your goals, you need to grit through all the hardships, like how the Beatles didn’t give up in Hamburg despite the crappy club and the taxing schedules, and how pro athletes stick to strict diets and workouts throughout their lives.
Committing to your goal also means developing self-discipline, so that when times get tough and seemingly hopeless, you still have the strength and will to stick to your routines and reach the milestones that will lead you to success.
Just don’t forget to rest and take care of your health, too.
It’s helpful to have role models who set positive examples for you and your decisions around your career, but it isn’t to look at your peers who are more successful than you and compare yourself with them.
Doing so blindsides you from your own goals, and only builds up negative feelings like envy.
Maybe it’s true that some of your peers are ahead of you now, but that doesn’t mean that your time is up and that you can’t be successful anymore.
Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his big break until he was 43. Stan Lee didn’t create comics until he was 39. Julia Child released her first cookbook at 50 years of age. Bethany Frankel launched her low-calorie margarita company in her 40s. And Colonel Sanders founded KFC at 62.
We’re all embarking on our own journeys, and we all have different timelines.
So, the only person you should be competing with is yourself. Keep working to be better than who you were yesterday.
The biggest enemy of motivation is the feeling of helplessness - that no matter what you do, you can’t change your circumstances for the better.
This helplessness stems from focusing on factors that are completely out of your control. In periods like global recessions, for instance, many tend to give up on their business plans, because they believe they can’t do anything about the tough situation.
But remember that more millionaires were made in the Great Depression than in any other period in American history. People manage to succeed in difficult times like recessions because they focus more on what they can do instead of what they can’t.
By centring your attention on what you can change, you can stay motivated and continue on your path to success.
Your motivation is a reflection of how bad you want to achieve something. That’s why it’s the key to success - without motivation, you’ll have nothing to push you towards your main goal.
Like pro athletes, the Beatles, and every other person who worked their way up to success, you have to want it badly so that you won’t turn away when circumstances become unfavourable for you. By constantly staying motivated, you’ll be able to fully focus on reaching your goals, and giving up will be out of the equation.
So, how bad do you want it?
Not sure what you’re working towards in small business? Let’s chat and refine your goals and put in place a framework to achieve them: https://www.evolvetogrow.com.au/posts/how-bad-do-you-want-it
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