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The Unsatisfied are the Successful

Have you ever had the incredible feeling after you have achieved something that has taken you a huge amount of time and effort?  For me, one of the most enjoyable and satisfied things I have ever done was writing The Entrepreneur’s Book. Not only did I enjoy the process of coming up with the ideas, structuring them and then writing the book, I also loved the whole process of being involved in the publishing world and then launching the book with press interviews, conferences to speak at and book festivals to attend.

So, if you’ve had this great sense of achievement and satisfaction, then I guess that you have also had the consuming feeling of ‘what’s next’? Because in my experience, these feelings of satisfaction, achievement and enjoyment don’t last. However, looking back on my own entrepreneurial life, I realized that a lack of satisfaction had actually been a positive thing. I have always been driven and enjoyed the buzz and excitement of trying to achieve success. Yes, I’ve had difficult and challenging times, but I have never been bored. And, when I did taste success, I did feel satisfied for a while. But that feeling started to fade quickly, and I was driven to get involved in new things, as I wanted to feel satisfied again. That is why I am now writing a third book – I want to experience those feelings of satisfaction and achievement again!

From my experience of talking to, and working with, other entrepreneurs I have found a common denominator in what drives entrepreneurs. No matter how successful they have become, they are always looking for the next project or business to get involved with. I know entrepreneurs who have built up large recruitment companies, sold them for a lot of money and then one year later founded a new recruitment company and started the whole process over again.

When I talk to these people, they all share the same thing – they are not satisfied with what they have achieved so far in business. They all think that the next company or the next deal will finally give them the feeling of satisfaction they crave. But they eventually discover that it doesn’t, and so off they go again, doing something new. A successful entrepreneur knows that pursuing satisfaction is what drives them, as they are constantly trying to achieve it.

And there lies the paradox of successful entrepreneurship. That in searching for satisfaction, successful entrepreneurs embrace that this is what drives them in business, but they also now that will never achieve that permanent feeling of satisfaction – they accept that it is temporary. But they are still driven to achieve the unachievable!

Even though I have lived in Scotland for well over 30 years, I still support England when it comes to rugby. When I was growing up, one of my heroes was Brian Moore, an English hooker who was capped 64 times between 1987 and 1995 and went on two British and Irish Lions tours, winning five test caps. So, in 2012, I was delighted to hear him being interviewed on the radio about his life and the book he had just published. He seemed to be very successful in everything he did. However, the stand-out part for me was when he said he had been ‘driven’ in everything he had done in his life, but that he did not see himself as successful. He then went on to explain what he thought being driven was all about:

You can be super ambitious, but still not be driven. Because super ambitious people set their own goals, and when they get there they are happy with them. Driven people are not happy. They think they will become happy because they think, “if I just get that or I just achieve that, then I’ll be fine.’” And when they get there they find it is not what they thought it would be and there is something else.

 Successful entrepreneurship is about being driven, not ambitious. Being ambitious is easy but being driven is difficult because it takes a lot of energy, commitment and sacrifice to achieve something. Crucially, at the end of the day, when you get there, you know that you might feel satisfied for a while, but it will end. So you will be driven to move on as a new thing surfaces, and for a while that will motivate you like nothing else.

If you recognize all of this and accept that it is an integral part of you, then use it, value and be grateful that you have it, as it will help you in so many ways in your journey as an entrepreneur.

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