As I was getting ready to leave my apartment this morning, I suddenly thought to myself: What’s motivating me to do what I’m about to do today? There’s a lot of potential answers to that question, some that are “noble,” such as “I’m determined to take one step closer to making the world a better place,” or “I’ll make my vision more of a reality today,” and then there are the seemingly more likely answers: (based on fear) “I need to start generating more income today,” “I need to figure out a way to make more money today,” “I need to connect with someone who gets me closer to making more money today…” You see the theme there. It’s not that I’m money hungry, but the truth is those are all driven by fear. But even those are not the “right,” answers to this question for me.
The easiest way to see your driving motivation is to see what you do each day, and how you feel about doing it. If you go to a job everyday that feels terrible, you may be motivated more out of fear that you can’t find any other sources of income, aren’t good enough to find the right job for you, or you’re afraid of putting yourself out there. Or maybe you’re motivated by your kids, and your drive to provide and care for them. Motivation are neither good nor bad, they just are. This morning I realized a key motivator for me ultimately is to avoid rejection (as you can tell by this post, I’m working through it). That is, I try to frame my days in such a way that I encounter as few opportunities for rejection as possible. And if I do hit points of rejection they are easy to take, such as email rejections. The interesting thing is that part of my work to avoid rejection, that is social rejection following the “what do you do,” cocktail question, is to go out and do seemingly scary things. I connect with all sorts of interesting people, put my money on the line, expose my ideas to incredibly smart and talented people, all so I have something I can say I do that doesn’t draw scary reactions. So I walk this tight rope, carefully balancing myself in a place where rejection is unlikely.
I want to be careful here so that I’m not beating myself up for beating myself up, but it’s a powerful revelation to see emotionally what drives you day in and day out. As an entrepreneur, rejection is a big part of your growth and discovery process. Rejection is what forces you to challenge where you are and what you’re trying to accomplish. It forces growth and change. It’s a very good thing. So by understanding what my motivation is, I can understand that twinge of discomfort within when I move myself into “dangerous” situations. My body knows the rules, it knows what it is trying to protect me from, and it’s giving me all the signs to get out of what I’m doing. I’m heading for rejection. But this is in finding where the growth occurs. I once heard that feeling uncomfortable means you have an opportunity to grow. Things seem hard? You are growing. So ultimately it’s about finding your current source of motivation, determining whether or not that serves your life goals, and then figuring out how best to use your current motivation to grow, learn, and create a new driver that serves you.