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Entrepreneurs & Motivation: 6 Steps for Getting Through the Year & Beyond

Entrepreneurs & Motivation: 6 Steps for Getting Through the Year & Beyond

I've been thinking a lot about the idea that one's life can be their career. That it doesn't have to be the other way around. It's not a new idea, it's just that I have the opportunity to work with and around so many amazing people on a daily basis that it keeps the concept top-of-mind. The entrepreneurial community in ABQ is awesome. I've met people, in my own age range, that are out getting what they're after. I know some amazing entrepreneurs in this community, and I'm pretty lucky I get to chill with them from time to time.

There're lots of things that I really admire about people who take ideas and work tirelessly to create careers out of them. Entrepreneurs are creative, bright, motivated, plucky individuals with an energy that inspires by weight of its own gravity. 

And I think millennials are perfectly positioned to virtually own the entrepreneurial era. Millennials have access to more information and, thanks to technology that gives us a sort of omnipotence, can simply do more than anyone before ever could have.  Can being the operative word. Just because we can do something, doesn't mean we're always able or motivated. Economic, social, and political landscapes directly impact ability and motivation. 

Motivation is important for entrepreneurs - I think, more so than many people realize. As an entrepreneur, one doesn't have anyone else to rely on but himself or herself. I can't blame someone else for not having plotted my content calendar for the month, or not having written an article draft well in advance of a posting deadline. It's all me - it's all us, individually. We're accountable for all of our successes and all of our failures. We may have help along the way, but it always comes back to how much you, individually, put in. So, yeah - motivation is pretty damn important. 

And, so, because things can, from time to time, be confusing and politically charged - and WAY less than motivating - I find it helps to have a strategic approach to life. Not just for career, life, love, or whatever. I mean an approach that covers the whole lot - or, at least, an approach you can apply to everything. Because, if you're going to pay close scrutiny to and subsequently improve one area of your life, why shouldn't you do the same for every aspect?'s my humble and *hopefully* unassuming 'two-cents' on the everyday practice of life (de Certeau would be proud). Hope they help. 

6 Simple Steps: or what the Godfather, Machiavelli, and Sun Tzu taught me about life


1. Know thyself, know the enemy.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
— Sun Tzu

This is pretty simple. At least, the idea is simple. Execution, not so much. Figuring out 'who you are' is much more complicated and complex than a simple sentence or piece of sage advice can suggest, but finally understanding who you are and what makes you tic is something that can actually be done. 

It's just a lot of trial and error. A LOT. But it's necessary. You have to try things and fuck up in order to figure out what it is that you like and what you need to get better at. Then adjust, self-correct. Doing this actually equips you to better assess others and discover opportunities for engaging with them successfully. Simply put, the better you know the players, the better you can see the outcome of their interactions. 

That means things'll be a little less likely to blindside you on an idle Tuesday afternoon like a tire-iron to the face.


2. I got my own thing.

I’m not interested in preserving the status quo. I want to overthrow it.
— Niccolo Machiavelli

I've never really fit into any one box. I've always kind of existed in the liminal spaces, outside the lines and always 'slippering' away from definitions' grasp.

The thing about those liminal spaces is that, because it's entirely subjective, anything is possible. Which means you're free to be whoever the hell it is you are.

Freedom breeds happiness - and those two things = confidence.

freedom + Happiness = Confidence

Confidence makes shit happen. Trust me on that.


3. Go to the mattresses.

He’s thinking of going to the mattresses.
— Clemenza to Paulie & Rocco - The Godfather, Mario Puzo

Opportunities - good ones, anyway - don't come around too often, I've learned. And when they do...well, carpe diem, brother. Otherwise, you'll find you've ended up missing out on a lot of good and/or interesting stuff. 

Risk is just one of those things that you can't altogether avoid. The best thing to do is to accept it and reach for what you want. I think if you've done the work of getting to know yourself (see above), this will be easier. 

And once you've accepted that risk is always there, and you're confident in what you want, it's time to go to the mattresses.

Kill it.


4. Move with purpose.

Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.
— Sun Tzu

This one is simple. Think about what you do before you do it. 

It should go without saying that one should always have a plan - How do I want my career to grow over the next 5 years? What am I looking for - specifically - in a romantic partner? What are the steps necessary to turn this business idea into a reality? How much do I need to put away to get to Reykjavík this summer?

Plans are helpful. Even more when the plans are mapped out with detail and step-by-step guides to execution.

So, sit down, think and draw up some plans for execution. Then go to battle.

But first- think it through, man.


5. Be aware - perception is everything.

... men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them; and in the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges by the result.
— Niccolo Machiavelli

While appearance - what we see - isn't always a fair indicator of what lies beneath the surface, the fact remains that we're simply beholden to our eyes. At least, at first. And you know what they say about first impressions...

Pay attention to how you present yourself - not just in how articulately you can turn a phrase or opine on Soja's assertions on the postmodern space, the psycho-social dynamics of crowdfunding, or the disaster that is modern global politics.

No, not just those things but your physical appearance as well. 

This doesn't mean that one should conform to some arbitrary social standard of beauty or style, but it does mean that one should care about how one presents oneself. After all, it is an expression of who you are. It matters. 


6. Do you.

Yet, he thought, if I can die saying, ‘Life is so beautiful,’ then nothing else is important. If I can believe in myself that much, nothing else matters.
— Don Vito, inner dialogue - The Godfather, Mario Puzo

Not to put too fine a point on it but, at the end of the day and regardless of what you do, be authentic. If you can't be 'you,' you aren't really living and that isn't cool. Do you - always.