When I was 23 years old, I decided to be a wedding planner. I entered meetings explaining the detailed process of how I design weddings. The meetings were long.
And one day, my wedding shoot got featured in an international publication. After which, I realised the conversation changes. I was no longer asked about my design process. Couples trusted me to plan the most important day of their life.
So when I started an animation studio, I did something different. I went to the most well-known companies and offered to make their animation at cost. And after enough portfolio, the long-winded meeting got shortened into a sentence.
It became, “I’ve made animations for Scoot, DHL and UOB.”
I took out all the risk. And the story became a free leverage asset. The conversation shifts from ‘can I trust you’ to ‘how can you solve my problem?’
Perhaps, you can leave the story to fate. Or you can work diligently to earn it. If the work is important enough, it might be worth building the story.
Fear runs deep in our genes. The discipline master walking around tapping a thick bamboo cane on his feet. Or the manager doing his rounds, inspecting the work that you do. It doesn’t take long for us to get our act together in the presence of fear.
Anger could also be fuel to pull all-nighters, build companies and amass wealth. The founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian was told by Yahoo that his company’s traffic was “a rounding error”. He framed it up, hang it on the wall and looked at it all day.
As Jim Denthmer pointed out that there are not one, not two but five things that can motivate us. And they are all equally powerful. They are fear, extrinsic rewards (money/status), intrinsic reward (meaning/purpose), play and love.
It’s entirely possible. Some of the very top professional are trafficking in play. The deal makers negotiating contracts. The athletes playing sports. The coders writing algorithm. They are able to out-learn, out-work and out-last everyone because it’s fun to them, and work to you.
Perhaps if your fuel is hindering you from where you want to go, it’s time to look inside and choose a different kind.
There are many reasons why we do things. Our jobs, our exercises and even our meals. And within each, there are layers upon layers of reasons.
Perhaps the job was about money, but it might also be for friendships or a place to feel useful.
Perhaps cooking our meal was about health and deliciousness, but it might actually be a semi-distracted environment for your child to reveal the truth about their day.
As we get stuck, getting caught in a cycle, it could be a good time to start a dialogue with ourselves. Why do we do the things we do?
And as we get to the core of it, we start to uncover these motivations. It could be about guilt, shame and fear. It could be about perks, status and jealousy. It could be about fun, learning and joy.
It worth noting here that any piece of wisdom that anyone gives, about what you need or what you want, it’s going to sound like nonsense to you. I think fundamentally we just have to find it for ourself, so the important part is not the answer, it’s the question.
We just have to sit there and dig with the question. Unpacking the layer of reasons and finding the motivations behind each one of them. Differentiating between necessity and fuel, fear and longing.
Perhaps then, we can piece it back together, rearrange it with our priorities. But this time, consciously.
Maybe just maybe, when we can find enough, we are able to get unstuck and do the next thing, and the next thing. Slowly, we can shift from something we ‘have to’ do, to something we ‘get to’ do.
Like all important things, it starts with a pen and paper, staring into mid-space and asking why.
Imagine a market with local seasonal produces. Organically grown or raised without synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, antibiotics or GMOs.
Imagine getting to know the people that make and grow your food. Their process, their promise and what they stand for.
Imagine a company ran by people that care about the betterment of your eating first, profits second.
Imagine earth-friendly practices and packaging. Simple and clear labels. A sustainability report done every other year.
Imagine paying for the same groceries with the regular price, what you’re already paying today.
Start with 10 paying customers with 3 months of subscriptions and commitment. Start with 10 types of produce (preferably the most profitable, delightful and delicious ones). Then, aim for 10 delighted customers telling 10 of their friend. This is how you build a new future.
It’s possible. We are waiting for someone to get started, and it might be you.