Okay! I’m obviously not saying that you shouldn’t help others. On the contrary, I encourage you to do so and big time. But my point for this article has to do with the motivation behind the reason you do the work you do.
As I get more and more into the field of startups and social entrepreneurship, I began to see an interesting pattern. At first, I thought it was a personal thing because I also used to think the same way, but now I’m sure it’s just part of the process.
Why do you do what you do?
I recently began coaching first-time social entrepreneurs in their journey to building a life of good that allows them to live their passion while helping others.
In my session, I ask them one simple question.
What needs to happen in your work, for you to feel it was a successful day?
I actually want you to stop here and think about your answer for 30 seconds.
As I go around the room collecting answers, I can pretty much group them all in one category.
“When people appreciate me for what I do”
“Nothing like seeing the smile of the people, thanking me for helping them.”
“When my boss tells me how proud she is of my work”
This category is called appreciation.
The Problem With This.
Of course! It feels great when others praise us for our hard work, for our dedication and determination. And it’s indeed a powerful source of motivation that keeps us going.
The problem is when this becomes the main source of motivation.
How often do you tell other people how proud you are of them? Or that you admire them? Or how thankful you are for what they do?
If you are like most people, the chances are not so often.
And this is exactly the problem. If you depend on the appreciation of others to continue moving forward with your projects, then what is going to happen if nobody says thank you for 6 months? Would you still continue killing yourself to make an impact?
I hardly think so.
And it’s not that if people don’t appreciate you after 6 months, you may not be having an impact. Not at all. It’s just that often, people start to get used to it, which can make them take things for granted.
Then What Should You Do?
As long as you need others to appreciate you for what you do, you will never be able to lead yourself effectively because your self-motivation depends on others.
What you need to do is a mindset change.
As long as you do things for the smile of others or for the good of the organization or the community, you will depend on the recognition of others to stay motivated.
But, the moment you start to compete with yourself, the moment you look to grow and become better than you were before, you will find the self-motivation to drive you over any obstacle regardless if you are appreciated or not.
Things change right when you stop doing them for others and began to do them for yourself.
It’s not until you start to compete with yourself that you start to get ahead.
How to do that then?
Find 3 things you can gain from doing your task or project.
I don’t mean things like more business, social status or a new home. I mean personal things such as project management skills, deeper knowledge about a particular topic, public speaking experience, etc. Whatever you can develop from the task that will allow you to grow from it.
Once you figure them out, go to the next step which is identifying how does the project or task help you develop those things and why is it important for you to develop those things.
With a clear roadmap to a better you and with a clearer understanding of how your new skills will help you in life, it will be very hard for any storm to hold you back.
Now it’s all up to you to work your butt off and excel at it.
All the best,