Everytime I look at the title for this blog, I mis-read it, reading it as “Confessions of a Closet Underwear”…yah, maybe that’ll add to my hits through searches 🙂
At any rate…on to the pressing matters at hand…bring on the NEW WEEK! I struggled last week with my own personal motivation. I think the most difficult thing of embarking on this entrepreneurial career has been adjusting to the lifestyle change. I don’t mean the financial changes or the eating-at-home all the time changes…I mean getting used to not getting up at 6:30am, going through my morning routine and leaving for the office by 7am, working until 5pm and coming home. I thrived on the structure of that life – where someone else dictated my day, my schedule, my working hours. And then there was the mindset that came with that – I always felt that when I was in the office, I needed to be focused, dedicated and always on task for the good of the organization…the responsible and right way to think, I believe but there, someone else was holding me accountable – the guy holding my paycheque. But here’s the thing…now I’m the guy holding the paycheque and my success depends on myself (and Chris) and our ability to make the Goose great.
I have spent the last three months figuring out what works best, what’s the best way to keep that employer-imposed structure and how and when I work my best. Consciously paying attention to my environment, how I feel at certain points of the day and noticing patterns in my mental capacity have been extremely important. I know now that if I don’t go to the gym in the morning and start my day with exercise…I’m pretty much useless most of the day. My brain doesn’t seem to function at any high level and I can make excuses to myself all day long. I also know that when I’m in my home office, sitting at my desk in front of my desktop, instead of sitting on the couch (with the TV off mind you) with my laptop on my lap, my day flies by and I accomplish so much more. These, and other minor environmental and physical changes have made tremendous differences in my motivation and it’s been cool to recognize, and make sure I stay structured, to these things.
I knew these first few months as an entrepreneur would be different…but I underestimated just how much. What are the different ways you conduct yourself or environments you work in to increase your motivation?
So I’m reading a new book…I know, you’re shocked…called The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk. Amazing so far! In the first 30 pages it has made me reconsider my thinking on nature vs nurture and what makes us who we are. Shenk is challenging (using science) the historical notion that it is our genes that control our talent, not our environment. It’s traditionally believed that upon conception, our genes determine everything about us – from our hair color to our height to our skills and abilities. Seems pretty reasonable, right? Combination of DNA from our parents and voila…a pre-determined human with no control over talent. Shenk disputes that claim, saying that yes, genes are obviously important but that our environment is also to blame, or has influence over, the discovery of our talents and abilities.
Consider this (and Shenk uses this example) – baseball player called Ted Williams. Considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time (he played from 1939-1960) Willaims is said to have laser-like eyesight, which let him read the curve and speed of pitches the second it left the pitchers fingers. This “natural” ability is cited as the reason Williams holds the record as the last player to bat over 0.400 in a season, has 521 career home runs and continues to hold the record for the highest career batting average for anyone with 500 or more home runs. Even if you don’t understand all these baseball stats and their significance, understand this…they’re impressive. What’s even more impressive is that eye sight tests reveal William’s vision to be, while exceptional, to be well within normal human limits.
So what does that all mean? It means that Williams success can’t be credited to just good genes. His eyesight was good but it wasn’t exceptional. So what made him so great at his sport? Practice. And more practice. And then a little more practice after that. For sure, having good eyesight helped, but without the hours and hours he spent hitting balls, the hours and hours he spent talking to pitchers and coaches and other players, Williams would be ordinary. A guy good at baseball but not necessarily exceptional.
Even just this one example asks us to pause and give consideration to attributing amazing ability based on nothing but good genes, to considering that Williams was passionate for the game and did whatever he could to make sure he excelled at it. He took his passion, decided that he wanted to be amazing at it and did whatever he needed to do to make it happen. So what excuse do we have when we say we can’t do something because we have no natural ability at it? Based on the research by Shenk in this book…we really don’t have any excuse at all.