Throwing Oil on the Fire

“Jia you!” I’d hear before a test, or when I was struggling to convey even simple messages in Mandarin.

“gee-ah yo!” I’d mimic when my Chinese friends were despondent before exams.

The simple words of encouragement, which roughly translated mean “throw oil on the fire” came to be the most important phrase in my life.

To this day, when I face down a big project or a monumental task I say it to myself. I see the American equivalent as “to light a fire under one’s own ass.”

And that is what I’m doing now, as I face my new project, my new startup, my new sweat-stealer: Valley Girl Magazine. I have a bumpy road ahead of me as a solo founder, and my biggest concern is not losing steam.

So I’m going to throw oil on my fire.

I will hold myself responsible, motivate and encourage myself, light that fire and make it burn so bright that it keeps me warm for days into the future.

How do you stay encouraged?

Startups, entrepreneurship, freelancing — all these things can be tiring, dull drudgery. Slogging through data and optimization and minutia can wear down your interest and damp down your flame.

Somehow, though, entrepreneurs (true entrepreneurs) seem to stay lit.

Sure, there are moments of doubt, days of despair, troughs of sorrow — but we keep on going because inside that fire is still burning.

It’s not the money that kindles it, nor the thought of fame. It’s the “you,” the oil, this internal combustion fuel that’s half grit and half sweat.

You have it in you.

Go throw oil on your fire.

And get back to work.

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