If it feels good, should you do it?


Some would-be successful entrepreneurs may be tempted to look at their peers who are already enjoying success and wonder if those peers are simply lucky. After all, why else would they be getting the results that are currently eluding you?

Coleman Cox observed, “I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.” Or, put another way, “Luck is what’s left over after you give 100%.” (Langston Coleman)

In other words, “luck” is a by-product of focused effort, not a strategy in and of itself.

Does that mean that luck plays no role in your success? Not at all. It simply means that it’s up to you to create the conditions where “luck” comes into play.

And one of the best ways to both create your own luck AND bring value to your ideal clients is by doing work that delights and fulfills you.

Why? Because:

But can your sole criterion for choosing where to invest your precious time be, “I like doing this”?

Ah, if only!

The harsh reality is that there are any number of tasks, crucial to developing a thriving business, that you undoubtedly…

Naturally, what one person may hate, another person may love. But the point is that you, like every entrepreneur, have a list of what I call “hate favorite” tasks – activities that you consider only slightly more tolerable than getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick. You can’t ignore them – not if you want to create the business of your dreams – but you don’t want to do them, but you need to, but you really don’t wanna...

This is what’s referred to, in highly technical business terminology, as “being in a pickle.”

What’s an entrepreneur to do?

Success = focus + determination + courage.

Are you ready to create a business that capitalizes on what you love to do? Then here are some action steps you can take now.

1. Take a look back.

In the busy-ness of daily life, it’s sometimes easy to get caught up in what you “should” do, and thus lose touch with what you love to do.

If that seems distressingly likely in your case, take some business-development time to think back on what you’ve done in the past that’s really engaged and energized you. Is it writing? Speaking to groups? Interacting with children? If it makes your heart sing, consider how you can incorporate it into your business (assuming you’re not already).

Keep in mind a recommendation by American educator and philosopher Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

2. Be ruthlessly honest.

Are you spending huge amounts of time slogging through tasks for which you have absolutely no aptitude? If so, it’s time to admit that your sanity and your bottom line both deserve for you to turn those activities over to someone else. Let that other person revel in doing work that makes her heart happy, and open up your time and energy for doing your own heart’s work. You deserve that – and so do your clients.

(If you’re worried that admitting you stink at something means you’re a “failure”, choose instead to consider that it means you’re unusually perceptive and sufficiently courageous to do whatever uncomfortable stuff – like, maybe admitting that you’re not perfect – is necessary to make your business thrive.)

3. Don’t let their fear become your fear.

Most of us have probably dreamed of earning a living doing what we love. Yet too many people never see their dreams get off the ground, because they let the fear and small thinking of other people convince them to not even try to create that dreamed-of reality.

Courage is feeling fear and taking action anyway.

While very often these people are well meaning, other times they’re simply threatened by your desire to play a bigger game. After all, if you do something scary and succeed in it, they might look bad by comparison. Much easier on them to convince you to stay small; that way they don’t have to make the effort to avoid comparisons or do the work to make their own dreams into reality.

My first and most powerful naysayer was one of the well-meaning ones who took on that role for the very best of reasons – she wanted to save me from hurt.

Mom cautioned me over and over, “Don’t get your hopes up.” Of course, her thought was that this was a good way for me to avoid disappointment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way. By developing the habit of setting my expectations low, I also developed the habit of settling for less than I really wanted.

It was years (okay, decades) later when I chose to start getting my hopes WAY up. I guess I’d finally reached the point Anais Nin was talking about when she said, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

While most of us have had experience with people around us trying to scare us away from our dreams, really creative entrepreneurs don’t need anyone else; they do the dreaming AND the scaring-off themselves. They let that fearful voice – inner critic, mental “gremlin”, scared little kid still living inside the talented adult – suck away their courage.  (If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll see why I picture Dementors in this role.)

Whether you’re dealing with an external naysayer or an internal one, your challenge is to acknowledge – but not agree with – their comments, admit your own trepidation… and take action anyway. Easier said than done, yes, but so rewarding.


What have been some of your experiences with finding the courage to do what makes your heart sing? Were the results worth the risks?

(By the way, thanks to Karen Roe for taking a picture of a Dementor while checking out the Harry Potter exhibits on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.  She posted this and other shots in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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10 Responses to If it feels good, should you do it?

  1. These are great. I especially resonate (right now) with #1. As I look back, teaching is what makes me come alive. Creating educational webinars, eBooks, etc. AND the actual activity of teaching. And finally, I’m finding the courage to just do it!

    That and playing the ukulele.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Same for me, Nancy. No matter what my job title has been, there’s always been a strong teaching component. It’s what makes me do my happy dance.

  2. Wonderfully inspiring post!

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Wow! I feel like I’ve been kind of huffing and puffing lately, so to hear that I was inspiring is a HUGE pick-me-up. Thanks for sharing that, Frances.

  3. I have trouble with having more courage than good sense, but right now, I’m kind of stuck. The results when I acted courageously and yet was following a spiritual lead were awesome.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Louise, I wonder if the path that’s truly spiritual – that results in the highest good of all concerned – isn’t the one that typically requires the most courage. Any thoughts on that?

  4. Kelly says:

    I sooooo love your posts, Kathleen! They always make me scream inside my head… YES YES YES! Love that quote by Thurman! And #1 is easy for me to answer at this point… It’s when I have been able to share, educate and teach… Who knew when I started my entrepreneurial journey it would go from me doing things for people to me teaching them how to empower themselves! Hugs to you for giving us the reminder to do what we love!

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Wow! Reading your comment was a great way to start my day, Kelly; thank you. 🙂 It’s always interesting to me how many of us have similar experiences, whether it’s sabotaging ourselves or figuring out HOW we’re holding ourselves back or allowing ourselves to step into our own power. Damn, we’re good!

  5. Sarah says:

    Love that equation… Success=focus+determination+courage. What’s not on that list? Talent. Degrees and certifications. None of that matters without focus, determination, and courage.

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