This section is a sticky one. If you find yourself on the cold side of where I’m directing you, you’ll have a more difficult journey ahead. This isn’t because you’re less able but because a fundamental question will be left standing in front of you. To be an EEn, you must find a convincing answer before you can move forward. And not just any answer either – you must be convicted of the answer you land on in order to live it out authentically; it’s not possible any other way.
The question is: Why are you doing what you are doing?
There is no a single right answer to this and I believe you’ll can find a number of valid reasons to build camp on. In saying that, there are some wrong answers in the context of the discussion in this handbook. If you don’t care what you do so longs as you get a fair wage, or if creating, improving, and making a difference are only great notions but not what your personally wrestling with, it’s about the right time for you close the handbook.
Hijacking your job is a long-term commitment and as you’d guess from the title of the section, I’m leaning heavily in on a particular direction to take. I’ve set out three potential answers to Why are you doing what you are doing?to help frame your thought.
Money is the obvious payoff to innovating in the context of a business. Get the innovation right and you’ve created a new stream of revenue – maybe even a new market. If you can achieve more revenue/profit you’ll be able to leverage this for your own personal financial benefit too (a case for a pay rise etc). We all know that money is what makes the world go round, except that we know it isn’t – it’s really our pursuit of more. So running with the idea of the ‘pursuit of more’, we can extend the payoff from money (the vulgar) to include being motivated to have more of something beneficial (the noble: security, prestige, respect, accolades) for yourself and/or your nearest and dearest.
The upside is that working for the payoff creates hunger and this is a powerful agent in generating urgency. Urgency (and perhaps this could also extend to responsiveness) is pretty useful when needing to innovative quickly in highly competitive industries.
The downside is what happens when you get the payoff? Do we look for an even greater payoff?
What we seem to find with the payoff motivation is that once we get it, trying to recalibrate and re-set our benchmarks is too difficult for most of us (the payoff is our marker of success in the end).
Why too difficult? Because the obtainment of the payoff fundamentally changes us. We are no longer the same person as we were before – we were without and now we have; our state has 180. Our notion of reality shifts and with this, though we often deny it, the thirst dies a little and our motivation eases off. We’ll still capable of good but perhaps not exceptional.
An illustration any music or sport fan can relate to (you’ll likely fall into at least one of those camps – just covering my bases here) is mirrored in why so many musicians & pro-athletes struggle to produce their best after they achieve their first major payoff. The follow up album or the second pro season are so challenging not because talent suddenly has a way vaporising but because the ‘why’ driving everything has been addressed. For many musicians & pro-athletes just receiving the album royalties or the playing contract is the signal for making it. From here, the road to protecting their new position (requires less risky decisions), verse innovating from it (high risk of failure), seems more appealing.
The payoff answer by itself, thought completely rationally, is too insufficient for a life of being an EEn. What we need from our answer is limitless motivation.
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This series of posts is part my project EEn: How to hijack your job, be happily employed, and become an entrepreneur (or die trying) and was inspired by Chris Guillebeau’s The $100 Startup. This series is for people have the entrepreneurial spirit and who still want to work for others (and not negotiate the tricky seas of running a start-up).
If you have a great idea for a product or service that your employer will never do in 1000 years and you want to leave your job to do that instead – go read Chris’ book.