“Everything sucks some of the time.”
~ Mark Manson
Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.
Whilst I am fully aware of the truth that both of these quotes point to, I think the picture they paint is not a full one and the idea inherent in both has got a little misconstrued by many people.
The idea that once we find and begin to do work we love, our passion, our calling, if you will, then all will be well and everything will magically fall into place is such a dangerous and counterproductive one.
Add to this the countless social media posts out there these days portraying business owners supposedly making big bucks, whilst working on the beach for a tiny amount of time and it’s easy to see why some people begin to believe that building a sustainable business, that brings in good money, working a handful of hours a day should be a breeze.
Well guess what? It’s not.
Do I believe that it’s important to do work that you feel passionate about, that has meaning for you and others and that leaves you feeling fulfilled and like you’re having an impact? Hell Yes. Do I also believe that once you find and commit to doing this work for the long haul that it will be all rainbows, butterflies and plain sailing from there on out? Erm no. Not at all.
You see everything, even our calling and our greatest passion, has its downside, its struggle and those parts that, simply put, just suck. Nothing is easy and wonderful all the time and being your own boss is no different. As Mark Manson says:
“Everything sucks, some of the time. You just have to decide what sort of suckage you’re willing to deal with. The question is not so much ‘what are you passionate about?’ The real question is ‘what are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work?’”
In my line of work I come across this a lot, people who want the rewards and benefits of working for themselves and none of the downsides. I always feel bad to be the one to break it to them, but neither life nor business works this way.
So the question then becomes, what are you willing to endure? Or to put it more bluntly as Manson does, “What’s your favourite flavor of shit sandwich?”
Because if everything has a shit sandwich i.e. an undesirable side: the frustrations, the irritations, the pain and the slog, then knowing which undesirable side you’re most willing to endure is really helpful.
And that’s what gets me through the down days as an entrepreneur. There are days where I feel like I’m slogging away and getting little in return or when I’m unable to take time off because I’ve got clients I can’t let down or when I’m working on a blog post at 11pm on a Friday night because of some challenge I’m running. That’s when I remember that even when it’s a struggle to do what I do, it absolutely is my favourite flavor of shit sandwich. I’d much rather suffer the downside of running my own business (the uncertainty, financial risk and sometimes hard slog of it all) than any alternative. As Elizabeth Gilbert says in a chapter, aptly named The Shit Sandwich, from her book Big Magic:
“If you love and want something enough––whatever it is––then you don’t really mind eating the shit sandwich that comes with it. If you truly love having babies, for instance, then you don’t care about the morning sickness. If you truly want to be a minister, you don’t mind listening to other people’s problems. If you truly love performing, you will accept the discomforts of living on the road. If you truly want to see the world, you’ll risk getting pickpocketed on a train. If you truly want to practice your figure skating, you’ll get up before dawn on cold mornings to go to the ice rink and skate.”
And so it is with me and my business. I’m absolutely willing to do what it takes to have this be the thing I get to do for the rest of my life. On the good days and the bad.
I’m curious, how about you? What comes up when you ask yourself what you are willing to endure? Let me know in the comments below.
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