Getting motivated is easy -- it’s staying motivated that’s difficult. Every entrepreneur (and most non-entrepreneurs as well) has looked up motivational tips at one point or another. So what is the best way to keep moving forward towards that goal each day? How do you work through the difficulty of grinding away at something difficult, even when you’re exhausted and drained?
For me, it’s reading about other people who have accomplished what I want most in life. It’s watching videos of what life is like after the goal I’m working towards is completed. While I devour articles like this on a near-daily basis, there are a few that I keep coming back to. Three, to be specific. I hope you don’t find it self-serving that they are all hosted on Entrepreneur, but after all, if this isn’t the place for us business founders to inspire each other, what is?
1. From Broke to Millionaire: 4 Lessons a Serial Entrepreneur Can Teach Us
As Steve Jobs so eloquently said, “here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes ... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things.”
This quote describes many groups, but three especially well: entrepreneurs, innovators and immigrants. That’s why I find Tomas Gorny’s story so compelling -- he’s all three. As a serial technology entrepreneur who founded multiple successful companies while also battling against negative stereotypes regarding immigrants, if there’s one thing he doesn’t do, it's take the easy road.
I find his story so inspiring not only because he has the closest thing to a fairytale rags-to-riches story, but because he went from having nothing, to having millions, back to having nothing, and then went on to achieve more success than he ever dreamed. This article, and Gorny’s story, reminds me to never take anything I have for granted: my privileges as an American white man, my inborn talents, my education or even what I have already accomplished.
2. Think You're Too Old to Be An Entrepreneur? Think Again.
Most people who aspire to be entrepreneurs have big dreams. They want to found a company that changes the world. While noble, this dream tends to have some side effects: Namely, a fear that you’re constantly running out of time or missed the proverbial train to success.
It’s easy to think that if you aren’t young (whatever that means to you), you don’t have enough time to accomplish what you want. It’s easy to think that if it took you to your 30s, 40s or later to be inspired to pursue a new passion, then maybe it isn’t really your passion. It’s also easy to think that if you weren’t the first person to recognize a problem, then someone else has already beat you to the solution, and you’d be wasting your time getting involved.
When I start to feel like I’m getting old, or that I missed an opportunity, or that it’s all just too much, I reread this article on the ages that founders of major companies were when they accomplished their dreams, and what they were doing before they got there. Reminding myself that, for example, Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's, was an ordinary salesman, gives me hope that even if what I’m doing now turns into a bust, there’s still plenty of time for the next thing. Knowing that J.K. Rowling spent a decade on welfare as a struggling single parent reminds me that the inherent struggle with doing something big is really worth it.
3. 10 Behaviors of Real Leaders
It’s easy to get stressed as an entrepreneur. I’d guesstimate that at least half of us view that as our default state of mind, especially when we’re first getting started on a new venture. This is fine, as long as we channel that stress into productivity and meaningful action. But for so many of us, we end up venting that stress at random intervals on the people we rely on most.
Being an entrepreneur means being a leader. Being a leader means you have a group of people who are both following you and supporting you. That means that when you feel scathing mad at the world from your recent frustration, the first people you burn are the ones who are holding you up.
Related: The Most Inspiring Moments of 2017
I reread Steve Tobak’s column on what it means to be a real leader whenever I feel myself slipping into aggressive behavior and at risk of taking it out on the next person I talk to. It reminds me that as a leader, I need to take care of more than just myself. Often, ironically, that means letting go of an opportunity and taking that time for self-care in the interest of the bigger picture goal -- and that includes not driving away or wearing out those people who are helping me.