Here’s a question for you: What makes you happy? At the moment, getting to the end of January with all of our clients’ self-assessment tax returns filed will make me happy, but that is a temporary state as we will have plenty to do in February.
Let me explain the reason for my question. Earlier today I was listening to a CD where there was a discussion of the difference between success and achievement. Success was defined as wanting what you have got. Achievement was defined as getting what you want. To me, that’s one of those sayings that makes a good sound bite but I have heard better definitions.
The discussion actually went deeper into achievement and touched upon motivation. Something I had not considered before is that you cannot have motivation without a motive. An obvious link but not one I had considered before. So, what is your motive? Well, the discussion turned to the only two fundamental motives that influence our every decision. We act so as to either move towards something we want or we act to move away from some pain. And what we all want is to move to a state of happiness. You are happy, or you think you will be if you reach your goal, whether that be to have a particular physical object, or you complete a certain task. We all crave happiness and we do things to attain that state of mind. People write books about this stuff so I am not going further. I just wanted to set the scene and give you the background to my question.
In case you have a memory as bad as mine, here is a reminder – What makes you happy? It’s surprising how hard it can be to answer that question. There will be answers in every aspect of your life whether that is personal, family or business. It is probably easier to understand what makes you happy in a personal, family or social context. But what about being in business.
I also heard today that the average business owner works between 58 and 59 hours a week. Given that we are in January and in the throes of tax return season, that would be working part time. But I still find time to write this, so what am I complaining about.
A few days ago, I was speaking to someone who has built up a successful business but is still early in that journey. At the moment, he could still earn more working for somebody else than just earning the profit shown in his accounts and all the hassle and stress that goes with running a business. So, why does he do it? Early in the development of our business we were in the same position. Why does he and us work long hours, including weekends when we could just get a wage, have weekends, not work evenings, and have real holidays. Why do we do it? Why does he and so many of you do that?
You will all have your own motives and they belong to you and no-one else. We are all unique and the motivations that drive each and every one of us will be different to a greater or lesser extent. And what is the inspiration for that motivation, was it something while you were growing up or something else?
In my case, I get a kick out of all the stresses and strains, all the minor successes and failures that we experience each and every day. We are now ten times the size that we were 20 years ago but to put that into context, the guy I was speaking to is now 20 times the size he was just 6 years ago, so no point crowing about our success, we are well down that league table.
So, on a day to day basis I like the idea that we have successfully swum the shark infested waters that are running a business, and lived to swim another day. It gives me a sense of satisfaction. I also get a kick out of seeing our clients overcome problems, whether tax or something else, with our help. I like seeing our trainees passing exams and growing, starting on their own careers. I suppose I like to see growth not just in our business but in the people we come into contact with, whether staff or clients.
But in terms of explaining this to anyone else, all I can say is that it makes sense to me. It does not need to make sense to you or anybody else. Just me.
So, what gets you out of bed in the morning and fires up for the day ahead?
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership