“There were times when I wanted to give up”. Have you ever heard that from any self motivated entrepreneur? Of course you have, I bet that every single successful entrepreneur has been through at least one patch (some I am sure go through regular patches) during which time they wanted to throw in the towel. It’s one of the most important things that distinguishes those who ultimately succeed, and those who give up. Those who persevere generally succeed, but it’s practically impossible to keep working hard, to keep persevering, if you don’t love what you do.
Steve Jobs once said about success, “it is so hard, that any rational person would just give up, unless they love it, unless they are passionate about what they do. And you have to do it over a sustained period of time. Often times the ones that were successful loved what they did, so they could persevere when it got really tough, and the ones that didn’t love it, quit. Because they’re sane, who would want to put up with this stuff if you didn’t love it”.
Perseverance is having the ability to just keep doing the right things over and over again, and very often there are no immediate results. Nothing to reward you for your continued efforts and hard work. When it’s that hard, and results are as scarce as intelligent goldfish, negativity is overcome by focusing on the finishline, that ultimate goal, or even smaller stepping stones, and the feeling you get from doing what fulfills you.
per·se·ver·ance (as defined by Dictionary.com)
I have a passion for endurance sport. Somehow, hours spent on an uncomfortable saddle excite me. The same concepts of loving what you do and success are true in training for an Ironman event. There are days when it is so hard just to get out of bed, so hard to put some running shoes on and head out the door. You know it’s going to hurt, you know you feel tired and flat. In fact, you feel you are going backwards and not making progress. It is so easy to skip the session, the results are nowhere to be seen, and you figure, ‘ what is the point?‘. You feel more despondent than Albert Einstein did the day his teacher told him he’d never amount to much, and when Michael Jordan did the day he was dropped from the high school basketball team. See where I’m going with that? A winner looks beyond the present, and overcomes the tough times. As an athlete, each session builds on the previous one, and cannot be seen as an individual goal. It’s the culmination of hours and hours of training, planning sessions, training at varied tempos, and being consistent that will enable you to arrive on race day in peak condition. Also true is that more often than not, it’s only the first 20 minutes of the session that are bad, and the longer you continue, the more you realize why you do it. You get out of bed because you know that you will love it when you’re done, and you know that it’s the only way to reach your goals.
And so too, it is in our jobs. The rewards only come after hard work, consistency, and the sustained effort of doing the same things over and over, persevering in the tough times. So what then does it mean to love what you do?
I believe that each of us is defined as a human being by certain things or needs that are not only very important to us, but that if these defining needs are not met, we will not be happy. For instance, I am defined by the fact that I am a father. If I do not spend enough time with my daughters I am an unhappy camper. Likewise I need to exercise, it makes me happy and I feel good about myself. Another of the needs which define me is my need to teach or coach, and lastly I have a need to be creative. If my job satisfies my teaching and creativity needs, and leaves me with enough time to spend with my daughters and time to exercise, I will be satisfied. Simplistic I know, but yet so true. Steve also said that, “if I wake up on 3 or 4 consecutive mornings thinking that this is not what I would want to do if these were the last days of my life, it is time to change what I do.”
Loving a job means feeling fulfilled, being challenged, having fun, and above all it’s knowing that this is exactly what you want to do because the act of performing your job makes you happy. The spin off is that those you interact with in your job, for instance colleagues and clients, will respond very positively to your obvious enjoyment of what you do. And lastly, success will follow you, even if it is not immediate.
If you are trapped in a job you don’t like you know what it feels like to have the life sucked out of you, and you know how hard it is to motivate yourself to work at all. Sometimes that is just life, and it’s a stepping stone or a mid term goal. You might be a victim of circumstance. Even more reason then to make sure that all of your other boxes are ticked and that you happy in the other things that define you. Work towards change, life’s greatest truth is that nothing is forever.
I would rather spend long 15 hour days working hard in a job I love, than only working for 15 minutes a day on something I hated. First figure out what defines you, then chase that until it becomes your reality.
Are you having fun?