What hunger games drive YOU?
No, I’m not talking about the blood-and-guts-strewn movie Hunger Games. I’m talking about the heart-and-soul hunger that drives you to build your business and work tirelessly toward your goals. In other words, what’s your “big”? What is the compelling “why” that keeps you forging ahead even when the road is rough? While it may seem that this question should have an obvious answer, the reality is that many business owners stop short of identifying their true motivation.
Inner versus outer
The psychological term “intrinsic motivation” refers to a person being motivated to take action because the act is satisfying in and of itself. Intrinsic motivation comes strictly from within the person; the primary reason she chooses to do a particular activity is because she enjoys it and is nourished by it.
Contrast this with “extrinsic motivation,” in which the motivation for an action comes from outside the person. A person who is extrinsically motivated to perform some task does so because she expects to achieve some particular outcome as a result.
While all of us have desired outcomes we want to achieve, it’s far harder to stay the course during hard times if all our motivation for business comes from outside us, rather than from inside.
Creating a successful business takes an enormous amount of time and energy. If you’re (1) unclear as to your reasons for building that business and (2) primarily concerned with what outcomes you’ll produce, you’re going to have a much harder time creating a meaningful enterprise. Here’s a good question to ask yourself when deciding whether or not you’ve clearly identified your big, intrinsically motivating “why”: Ignoring all financial considerations (how much it would make, how much it would cost), would doing this business make your heart sing? If so, you’re well on your way to having identified your big “why.”
Digging beneath the surface
How often have you heard comments like these when an entrepreneur is asked why she chose the business she’s in?
- I love helping people.
- I’m a people person.
The problem with these statements is that they’re vague, and a vague reason is not nearly as powerfully motivating as a specific one. To get at the real core of why you’ve chosen to be in business, ask yourself, over and over again, “What is it about that’s important to me?” Here’s how this dialogue with yourself might sound:
Q: What is it about this business that’s important to me?
A: I love helping people, and the business gives me a platform for doing that.
Q: What is it about helping people that’s important to me?
A: I feel good doing it.
Q: What is it about feeling good that’s important to me?
A: I like knowing I’ve made a difference in people’s lives.
Q: What is it about making a difference in people’s lives that’s important to me?
A: It’s a way to pay it forward and say thanks for all the help I’ve received that’s made a difference in my life.
Q: What is it about paying it forward and saying thanks that’s important to me?
A: It allows me to feel I’ve been of service and it shows I’m grateful for what I have.
Q: What is it about being in service and being grateful that’s important to me?
A: Being of service and being grateful are two of my core values.
Providing value by addressing your valueS
Typically, your big “why” will directly relate to one or more of your core values.
Sometimes the challenge can be in honoring those values that are important to you, whether or not other people find them important or praiseworthy. For example, every time I’ve done any sort of values exercise, one of my top three core values invariably turns out to be “fun”. It took me years to get to the point where I could claim that without feeling embarrassed or label that as superficial. I was so grateful when Cari Vollmer, a gifted coach, gave me a new way to look at this: “Maybe part of your gift is bringing energy and lightheartedness to people.” Wow! That felt a whole lot better than labeling myself as shallow.
Where it gets interesting is figuring out a way to address your core values while simultaneously providing a valuable service that people are willing to pay for. Here’s a for-instance: Let’s say one of your primary values is respecting your body and maintaining it in good health. While you could devote your time to exercising and creating nutritious meals for yourself, could you support yourself financially doing just that? Probably not. However, if you show others how to eat and move well, could that be made into a profitable business? Absolutely.
The wonderful thing about providing value by addressing your values is this: No one else will be able to do exactly what you do in exactly the way you do it. Even people in the same industry will probably do their work for different reasons than you do yours. This allows you, from a very pragmatic perspective, to distinguish yourself from the competition by sharing a compelling marketing message based on your core values.
So…Why did you get into your business? What’s your big “why”? What’s the deep-down hunger that your business feeds? I’d love to hear the story of how you successfully created a business that allows you to address your core values as you provide value to others.