There are really only two fundamental driving forces in business. One of them can be helpful but is short lived, but the other one can make you very successful for decades.
- Moving away from something.
- Moving toward something.
Only the second one creates lasting success. The first one might even create failure.
There are legitimate reasons to run from something – a bear in the woods, a mudslide, that guy who won’t stop talking. Many people start businesses because they are fed up with the boss or the company they work for. Others do it because they were let go and didn’t want to ever be that vulnerable again.
Once we get our business going, an even stronger driving force enters the picture – survival. Right away there is almost always more money going out than coming in, and the survival instinct kicks in to move us away from this condition. These and many other reasons like them are all driven by the need to move away from something.
They are negative driving forces.
A negative driving force can be good to get something started. In my mind survival is actually the best/worst stage in business – you’ll never learn more, be more creative, be more open to change and discover great ways to make money than when survival is your driving force. But the problem with running from things instead of toward them is that eventually the motivation dries up.
Running from things isn’t a sustainable driving force. The gravitational pull of that thing behind you will eventually slow you down and wear you out. We aren’t built to find long term sustainable motivation from running away from things, but by running toward them. When you find something to run toward you’re much more likely to create a sustainable motivation to be in business and succeed.
These are positive driving forces.
A positive driving force is something that you don’t have, but it has you. It grips you and compels you forward – you can’t help but go in that direction because the gravitation pull in front of you is so strong and always getting stronger as you get closer to it.
What drives you and your business forward? What compels you to get up in the morning even when you’re not making money and when you’re tired of the struggle? What helps you see the struggle as the road to success rather than the road to nowhere? I call that my Big Why – the big reason to be in business that is so much bigger than just the trivial need to make some money.
If you don’t have a Big Why, a positive driving force that is compelling you forward – if you are relying on continuing to find your motivation from moving away from something – you are likely to never make a lot of money or be successful.
But there is one other condition that is much worse than a negative driving force, and that is “living in neutral” – neither moving away from something or toward something, but simply not going anywhere – dead in the water of life – just treading to keep your head above it all. People who live in neutral rarely find a Big Why. Movement of some kind is critical. At least if you’re moving away from the earth you’ve got a shot at finding the gravitational pull of the moon and running toward it.
Get out of neutral if you’re in it – wake up and get a Big Why. And if you’re primarily motivated by moving away from something, start replacing it with the positive driving force of moving toward that thing that is so compelling that you don’t have time for the pettiness of daily problems.
The book I just finished is one place you can start working on finding your Big Why and on the simple fundamentals of a great business.
Do you have a blue flame coming out your back side that is driving you toward a compelling Big Why? It’s the only way to live, and it’s the best way to ensure you’ll be successful for decades to come.