The One Thing You Can’t Buy

Money can buy you many things… It can buy you fast cars, big houses, nice vacations and allow you to dine at the finest restaurants while eating the best food.  In a more philosophical sense it can buy you security, freedom and contrary to what some people might tell you, it can, in fact, buy you happiness – if you don’t believe me, compare your state of mind while eating lunch in a great bistro overlooking the Eiffel Tower versus being evicted from your home because you can’t pay the rent or better yet, being homeless.

People have incredibly trite views about wealth.  Ask a rich person if they’d trade places with a pauper and I’m guessing that 999 times out of 1000 the answer would be no and the one person who would probably have some terminal illness and is days away from death.

Which brings me to the one thing you can’t buy… Time.

Once it’s gone, you have no way of getting it back.  Every time you blink your eyes that’s one less time you’ll ever have to blink.  Time is moving forward, you can’t stop it and you can’t go backwards.

With that joyous thought bouncing around your brain challenging your very notion of mortality, let me add to it by saying that with time being so precious, you’d best not waste too much of it.

For a business owner, this is even more crucial and today that was driven home to me in the strangest of ways.  I had just woken up, rolled over and started checking my newsfeed when I came across a post where someone had re-published one of those lists of feel-good motivational thoughts that are the new idiot’s opiate.

The person made five points, but four of them were relevant to this discussion:

1) If you’re in it just for the money, you’ll lose;
2) You must love and have passion for what you’re doing or you’ll give up easily;
3) Don’t ever give up, those at the bottom usually rise to the top because they have nothing to lose and push the hardest; and,
4) You have to believe in yourself almost to the point of tricking yourself into thinking you’ll do great things until you’ve said it so many times it becomes a reality.

I like the guy who shared that, but that right there is a basket full of feel-good crazy.  In my mind, that represents a recipe for epic failure and self-delusion.  Those thoughts toss objectivity out the window in favour of blind, simplistic stupidity.

None of my thoughts on these topics is new for those of you who read these daily emails, I’ve probably taken each one of these notions apart on several occasions, but today, you’re going to get the extended masterclass version of BS filtration.  Lucky you.

I’ll unpack these points individually.

First of all, if we’re talking about business, then you should be in it for the money.  That’s the absolute point.  Can you get some personal satisfaction from your work?  Sure you can!  I love doing Casual Marketer and I really enjoy my day job, but if neither of them paid me, I wouldn’t do them.  Love of the game is great and all, but I wake up early in the morning because the money is worth it, if it wasn’t I’d sleep in.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should be blinded by money because that can lead to bad decisions.  Chasing dollars can be a distraction for sure, but the focus of your business needs to be long-term profitability without sacrificing too much in the short term.

In fact, I’ve been down that road numerous times where I forgo short-term dollars with a view to a bigger prize down the track and I’ve lost count of the times the future money never materialises or is less than what I was expecting.

Keep your eye on the prize!

On to the second point about passion.  That’s a load of absolute horse crap.  Seriously, the idea that you have to LOVE what you do and be passionate about it so that you don’t get bored of it is stupid.  People who need that are lazy and weak.  They lack the discipline required to be successful, so they constantly need to feel good to put the effort in.

Here’s a tip for you, this almost never works out.  The reason is that in business, things go sideways sometimes and if you’re in it for the passion then this becomes a real problem for a bunch of reasons.  The biggest issue is objectivity – you’ll have none.  You’ll be blinded by your passion leading to bad decisions.  And if that doesn’t get you, then if things get really bad your passion will sour, so then what happens?

Be passionate about being successful in what you do rather than being passionate about the thing that you do.  Be passionate about getting results and having success because that will motivate you when times get tough.

The third point is around never giving up.  Let me go back to the concept of time that I started with – persevering with something that isn’t going to work, for whatever reason is a colossal waste of time.  When you come to a point in the journey where it becomes blatantly obvious that what you’re doing isn’t going to work out, then “never giving up” is crazy.

Perseverance is an incredibly positive personal attribute, I think it comes from a combination of confidence, discipline and personal pride.  People who persevere believe in themselves, are highly motivated to succeed and are able to push through the difficult times that every business owner has.  I admire perseverance and it’s a fundamental requirement to be successful because not everything is going to go your way.

You’ll notice that nothing I’ve said about perseverance includes the idea that you should just stupidly plod on, fighting the good fight when all hope is lost.  That’s because that’s dumb – it’s a waste of time.  Knowing when to quit is a great skill to have.

The final point is believing in yourself to the point of being delusional enough to almost believe your own BS.  If you have to “trick yourself” into a state of self-belief that realistically you’ve got much bigger problems to deal with.

Having confidence in one’s self is vital to success in business.  People who lack confidence often make poor decisions because they second-guess themselves or avoid making the tough calls altogether.  When you’re confident, you have the ability to assess a situation with a clear mind and quickly validate what your best options are before making a decision.

Which leads nicely into the idea that sometimes too much confidence skews towards arrogance and you end up underestimating the gravity of situations you find yourself in.  It pays to have a level of humility in business because there are always going to be days where the universe gets the upper hand.

The best way to ensure you have confidence isn’t to somehow brainwash yourself, it’s to set some achievable goals and have some success.  Success breeds confidence.  When you put some runs on the board and get some wins, you’ll feel good about yourself naturally because you will have earned the right to do so!  And when you lose, go back and look at what caused the loss – understanding where you went wrong and knowing you can fix it next time is another great confidence booster.

The bottom line in all of this is that people waste a silly amount of time on things that aren’t moving them forward in a meaningful way.  Focusing on finding their passion, tricking themselves into having confidence and fighting losing battles are just some of the ways that people get distracted and spin their wheels in business.  Don’t be like this!

When it comes to running your business be analytical, focus on doing quality work and understanding the value that you bring to your clients.  Most importantly, back yourself – not because some “Woo Woo” interwebz muppet told you to, but because investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.  You can control you and you can do what needs to be done.

Focus on your bigger picture, understand the steps you need to take to get there, concentrate on high-quality execution and put the work in – that’s all you need to do to be successful.

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