How do you Find Motivation in the Mundane?
Can you fathom all that was required to put a man on the moon? Brilliant scientists and engineers. Cutting-edge technology. A small fortune. And a mop. I’ll get back to the mop in a minute.
Shackled to a Career
As a child, were you ever asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Can you remember your answer?
As you got older, did anyone pose this hypothetical question to you: “If money were no issue, what would you do?”
How did you answer that question as a young adult?
How would you answer it now?
Somewhere between kindergarten graduation and our first grey hairs, most of us find ourselves giving a lopsided amount of time to make a little bit of money doing something we aren’t fully passionate about.
Is this the fate humanity is consigned to? Does greener grass exist somewhere else?
What would it take for you to be satisfied in your career?
Being your own boss while working remotely (before it was cool!) carries significant benefits. And challenges, of course.
I’ve been able to donate time and talent to causes that grip my heart.
Extraordinary people have become a part of my life. People I would have never met in a cubicle while working 9 – 5.
I’m able to prioritize the clients and companies I want to serve.
Brands have blossomed online with the support of our team.
I am not stoked about all of my work all of the time.
While entrepreneurs tend to be happier than employees, they are also significantly more stressed.
Learning that entrepreneurs are happier – and more stressed – may not surprise you. Entrepreneurs get to pursue their dreams but also carry the weight of success, sustainability, and responsibility.
Don’t underestimate the impact cognitive dissonance can have on your mental health, though.
What may catch you by surprise is that chasing your dreams can be just as dull as it is exhilarating.
Actually, from my experience, there’s often as much monotony as exhilaration.
Not that my clients or their businesses are boring. I serve some amazing people! But as it goes with any job or project, you’ve got to grind through some tedious tasks to get to what you enjoy.
Few passionate self-starters will be dissuaded by a start-up’s inevitable stress and obstacles. Most will be energized by the challenges. Maybe to a fault.
But do you have what it takes to grind through monotonous mountains of anonymous non-billable hours?
Everyone wants to change the world. Nobody wants to do the dishes.
You may crush it on social media by noon – but will your kitchen be clean before the sun goes down?
Purpose Beyond the Product
How do you slay this dragon?
You need to find purpose beyond your product.
For me, it’s supporting people’s flourishing. Let me give you a few examples.
I am not passionate about real estate. But I care deeply about the value of helping people build generational wealth through home ownership.
And I understand that we live in a world filled with inequities. I am fueled by the opportunity to support female entrepreneurs as they use their strengths to build businesses that bring beauty into this world.
Real estate trends don’t keep me up at night. But contributing to narrowing the gap in income inequality energizes me to get out of bed in the morning and get to work.
Our vocation can and should have value beyond bank accounts. I am humbled and honored to support human beings coming out of unspeakable abuse to have their humanity restored.
Can you see the purpose in your work beyond the product you produce?
Can you see the story you’re writing beyond the service you sell?
A story that serves a greater good in this world – greater than your boredom or success?
If so, you will be able to push through the monotony to build your brand and impact people’s lives.
Even while you wait.
Even while you do the dishes.
“Success,” “wealth,” and “platform” are fool’s gold. Don’t get me wrong; it would be foolish to prefer poverty and failure.
But when you get to the top of the mountain, you’ll find that it’s just….ok.
There’s an ancient Proverb that says, “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.”
If becoming the best and biggest is what drives you, you will never be able to pull over and rest. Even as you drive off into the sunset, you won’t be able to slow down enough to enjoy it.
There will always be another mountain to mine. And another gold miner nipping at your heels.
Many Native American nations witnessed this during the gold rush of the 19th century. Historian and author Joseph M. Marshall III notes that people in the Lakota Nation could not understand why so many people risked their lives – and took the lives of others – just to get shiny rocks out of the mountains.
You have value that’s greater than pennies. Your work has meaning that’s deeper than excitement. Are you willing to press on through every challenge, including monotony, to embrace a more profound purpose?
Meaning in the Mundane
Building your brand requires strength and courage – to find meaning in the mundane.
Yes, there will be mountaintops. You will feel those giddy butterflies in your stomach when you land that client, earn that award, or close that deal.
Chase it. Enjoy it when it comes.
But don’t live for it.
And don’t get t-boned by boredom. Be prepared.
Neil Armstrong may grab all the headlines for taking one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind. But he would have never taken that small step without a mop.
Or rather, without someone else finding dignity and purpose in mopping.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy toured the NASA headquarters. He ran into a custodian working later than he should have been.
The president asked the custodian, “Why are you working so late?”
“Mr. President,” the custodian replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”
Let’s Do This Together
At JS-interactive, we are passionate about helping people build their brands. We put people first. Including you.
We have seen success. We’ve struggled. We’ve been sideswiped by boredom.
And we have found purpose behind our products. It’s people. It’s you.
When you find meaning in the mundane, you can enjoy something deeper than success: purpose.
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