If you are like me, you want to achieve something for yourself — but you don’t know what yet. You are not stuck at “how do I grow my business” but more at “what should I even be doing as a business”.
I’ve been stuck there for some time. More truthfully, I find myself coming back to this starting point. After small attempts to get things off the ground.
After countless business books, blogs, courses and podcasts I felt further stuck. If ambition and knowledge wasn’t enough to get me started, what was I doing wrong.
It’s not that I couldn’t do anything. As a developer who enjoys building software, I am pretty self sufficient to get things off the ground. But having the power to “do anything” doesn’t help you do anything.
I was ambitious to achieve something, but I didn’t know exactly what. And in my mind, that is signal of a deeper problem. Because how could I be ambitious about a vaguely defined goal?
So I began to question my own motives for wanting to do anything, let alone achieve success.
I’ve long understood that my true desire in life is freedom. Having the ability to decide what I do with my own time. But what I’ve more recently realized is that my definition of success was the issue. I defined success by what I thought would bring me that ultimate desire — money, buckets of money. And I realized this is why I felt stuck.
I’ve also known and written about for quite some time, that money is not enough of a reason to start a business. Yes, every business wants money, that’s their point. But WHICH business you go into should be determined by something other than money.
Why? Because here is the catch 22. If money is what you want, you need to chase something else, literally! Everybody knows as a business you want money. But nobody has ever given a business their money because “they just really seemed like they wanted it”.
Seth Godin, author of All Marketers are Liars, points out that people are wise to bullshit. People today know when they are being sold to. They are expecting your bullshit to being with. They know the difference between people actually care or are just another player.
When people don’t care about you vs your competitor, you are a commodity. This is especially true when you are starting out, and your role and vision are driving your whole endeavor.
So anyway, how does this all relate to be being stuck? Because I realized I cared about the ends, and not the means. But its exactly “the means” that determine whether I achieve my ends.
The reason I felt stuck is because I didn’t care about what I did. Nothing seemed worth the effort. My lack of caring was evident in the little effort I did spend. People took notice, and like me, nobody cared.
That’s the ironic tragedy I faced. As ambitious as I was to spend all my time reading business books and preparing myself to do something big. I didn’t actually give a shit about anything.
When I look at the examples of “success” (aka IMO people who have buckets of cash). They all had ambition, true, but they also all obsessed about something other than money.
I enjoy playing guitar, piano, soccer, coding, build apps, but if I didn’t do anything of those things for a month I’d be fine. It seemed to me the missing ingredient was discovering a passion, not a direction.
As a society we happily give money to those who don’t seem like they are after it, and that’s a for a good reason. Those people give us value we gladly trade our money for. We feel our money is well spend because we felt cared for by people who care about their service or product.
So my journey to success must start with an inward journey. It fundamentally changes the questions from. “What should I do?” to “what do I care about” to “who do I want to help”.
I can think of no better or exciting use of my time now than discovering a passion I have yet to gain.
Seth Godin also offers great advice on this subject — go small.
Don’t start with “I want to hug all pandas until world peace is achieved”. Start small and local, but most importantly with the passion that will drive you forward. “I want to help the kittens at the local shelter”.
Sure, this sets me back even further than my original starting point. But at least I’m moving, and even failing requires movement.