Modern society is obsessed with the pursuit of success. In the eyes of society, success, like happiness, is inextricably linked with money: you are rich, so you are successful; you are successful, so you are rich. The same is true in the business world: it is considered that the more money a company makes, the more successful it is. And in the political world, our happiness is equated to GDP per capita. In this respect, the country of Bhutan is unique: they are officially guided by the unique gross national happiness index.
In a world dominated by the success mindset, we are constantly pushed to succeed in the sense described above—to go faster, higher, and stronger. If you don’t want to climb up the career ladder, you’re a loser. Business must either grow or it will die. Growth is a measure of status and a metric by which public recognition is achieved. You don’t want to grow? This is outrageous!
And so after listening to success stories at seminars and studying the life hacks of those who are considered successful, the head of a small business, for example, a translation agency, is determined to achieve the same for themselves. But for some reason things do not go as first planned: a month, two, a year passes, and no progress has been made. The growth strategy is not going well, the company is stagnating, and the head silently scolds themselves for not fulfilling their own promises. Their self-esteem and, as a result, the entire business suffers.
Why is this the case? The answer is simple: in fact, they do not genuinely desire to grow the business. They are simply following social convention. In their social role they have no choice but to want to grow. The desire for growth is imposed on them by society and is not a genuine inner need.
Without intrinsic motivation, it is impossible to achieve excellence. No athlete will ascend to the podium just because they are paid to get there. They must have a passion for what they do that comes from deep within or, in the language of neurophysiology, from the limbic system of the brain. This is a need shaped by circumstances. An attempt to overcompensate for something that a person did not have.
So it is important to understand whether you have this intrinsic desire to achieve something. If you do, you will find a way to do it. If you don’t, why put yourself through it all if you can enjoy life without being so harsh on yourself and your weakness? A lack of aspiration suggests the absence of desire, which is neither a good or bad thing.
And nothing will come good of you forcing yourself to go where society dictates. Great external success is often associated with great internal unhappiness: work becomes torturous, every task requires a huge effort of will, and most importantly, the distance between how others perceive you and your sense of self only increases.
More than half of the time we live on autopilot, unaware of what we are doing. We can accidentally go the wrong way or press the wrong button in the elevator. This autopilot cannot be controlled—we can turn it off for a short time by connecting to our conscious mind (“Oh, why did I turn left here?”).
In business, the autopilot can direct us to places that on sober reflection we would not have gone to. A person who is at the mercy of autopilot mode is like a drunk: conscious awareness forces them to take a step forward, while autopilot sends them a step back, and as a result, they go nowhere.
It makes sense to follow all of the above only if you are intrinsically motivated to focus on the management and growth of your company. Ask yourself if this is what you really want. Answer this alone, in a quiet place, without pumping yourself full of the motivational opium disseminated by self-help gurus.
If you are confident in your desire to grow your business, let’s talk about taking a systematic approach to growth.