What drives you? Where does your motor get its power?
There are libraries of books written about everything from goal setting to motivation. No point adding to them. But, many years ago I distilled what it was that drove me. I think it dates right back to childhood when I always liked that feeling of having achieved something, of having finished a job and looking back at what I had done. It was a good feeling. Later I got that same satisfaction completing reconciliations, getting books to balance etc. The feeling afterwards was always so strong.
Drive and ambition are closely related. When I think of ambition, I immediately think back to my own parents. They got by but never had that much. Their drive was to ensure that as far as possible, their children achieved more than they did, academically, in their careers and financially. They were ambitious for us. I think that what we all inherited from our parents was a constructive dissatisfaction with the sort of life they had and an inbuilt drive to do more.
I see that drive in so many other people. Did they get that drive from their parents, the environment in which they grew up or their experiences in life? Does it matter? I just like to see that in other people, and I don’t much care where it came from.
I was talking to one of my daughters recently and saying that we wanted to grow our business. Our company has developed over the last 21 years and at that moment employes 26 staff in 4 offices. My daughter’s reaction was why would we want more. Good question.
When you go into business, you sign a contract with yourself to accept a life of challenges, of ups and downs, with little financial security. You are in an unstable environment where everything you have worked for could disappear almost overnight.
But having signed that contract and living in that environment, you expand your comfort zone, which over the years gets bigger and bigger. Your confidence in your own abilities grows. You learn that there are no limits to what you can achieve other than the limits you put on yourself. To my mind, there are only two serious limiting factors. Your ambition and time. To achieve you need to be ambitious to achieve something. You need a burning desire to achieve whatever goal is important to you. Time is the other limiting factor. I have heard it said that the future is promised to no-one and all of us will run out of time at some point.
I describe my motivation as wanting to leave a wake behind me. I want my grandchildren to tell their children what we achieved. The reason I phrase it in this way is because I have no interest in recognition. After all, in all probability, I will not be around to hear it. I just want that inner satisfaction of knowing what we achieved, that we navigated the shark infested waters of business, and built something worthwhile, in our own small way.
At the end of the day, if you can learn a skill or develop a product, you can turn it into a business. If you have the vision and drive is there anything you cannot achieve? Virgin started out as a record store, Amazon as an online book seller. You may not reach their heights, but you never know. Once you sign that contract with yourself, the challenge is on.
So, what challenges lie ahead for us. Well, by the time you read this we will have made our fourth practice acquisition taking our staff numbers to over 40. Don’t tell my daughter. Munro Rankine will be joining our staff in Elgin along with the rest of the staff of Cathedral Accountancy.
We signed the contract with ourselves, and just like anyone else in business, no matter what that business may be, we are committed to facing the challenges. We have just bought another practice.
But never forget the most important word in business. Next!
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Alan E Long
The Long Partnership