I read a lot of blog posts and tech articles that advise and urge entrepreneurs and creatives to enjoy the process.
They tell us to acknowledge that creating anything of value is going to be a grind, put your head down – perhaps focusing on some element of the project that you can feel passionate about – and get to work on that process until you emerge victorious, sweating and panting, on the other side of that fence called success.
And I agree, I’ll throw in a video of the over-used Michael Jordan ‘persistence’ advert that you’ve seen 1000+ times but is STILL AWESOME:
The process is a pre-requisite to success – so, as entrepreneurs, we might as well enjoy it.
But here’s my problem with the ‘process’ – it’s boring, difficult, energy sapping and my brain just doesn’t like it as a concept! The solution: not to think of the process as work, think of it as creating a story.
When you live like I do, you find yourself with an abundance of clarity and (pleasant) lonely moments where your mind starts drifting onto topics like legacy. And I don’t mean how much money you will one-day leave for your darling children, I’m talking about how you want to be remembered. Or more importantly, what your story will look like when you look back on your path and accomplishments.
When you’re grinding away coding a form, writing that project proposal, calling that 54th client after 53 just said no, preparing that speech or altering that 8th version of a logo for a client – think of it as a part of your story. That work that seems crap now is another vital part of your ‘future time-line’ that you can look at down the line with pride and, most likely, a tear of joy in dedication to the ‘good old days’.
I look back at some of the times when I’ve hated the process. I spent 8 months after college working in a call centre, selling paint that protected the walls on the exterior of people’s houses from rain damage to home owners. The hours were crap (started at 12pm and finished at 9:30pm including Saturdays). It was a stereotypical high pressure sales office, a low value product that we sold at a ridiculously high price, and worse of all around 50%-60% of the sales meetings that I actually closed went unprocessed as we were under staffed (you didn’t get paid commission on sales meeting you arranged on the phone that no-one attended in person).
A terrible job, with crappy pay and horrible co-workers. While grinding away on those phones however, I always knew that I was building skills and, more importantly, resilience.
One of the key things I learned was that in many cases, people don’t buy into product features or even benefits – they buy into personality and people. I persuaded complete strangers to allow one of my sales ‘associates’ to visit them in their home and sell them products, simply by making that person believe that I was like them in some way (or sometimes, admittedly, by giving them no other option but to say yes, in a psychological way).
“So what time should my partner come round for that visit Mr. Jones, he’s busy at 5:30 but I can squeeze you in for a quick meet at 6… or should I make that 6:30?”
“No thanks, I’m not interested”
“Ah I forgot, you’re going to be busy watching Arsenal beat Chelsea again, right Mr. Jones?”
“HAH.. hasn’t happened for 4 years, it wont happen this year…”
You wouldn’t believe how many times I used this tactic, 5 minutes of banter and bringing them back to a close on the second cycle, around 70% of these originally resistant prospects would book a meeting with me and sound quite happy about doing so.
Coming back to the point, leaving work exhausted on a Friday evening doesn’t seem so bad when you look at it as a part of your journey to a better life, to your legacy.. to your story!
Give it a go next time the grind is getting you down. How does this crappy situation tie in to your story? This ‘outer body’ view of your situation and path can give you a renewed sense of energy and purpose.
What do you think? Can you give an example of overcoming setbacks in ‘the process’ by taking a step back and looking at the story? I’d love to read about it in the comments below.