The most successful men and women in all walks of life achieved greatness out of a desire to solve a problem, to fulfill a need, or to invent something to benefit society. For many, the key to their success was that they were motivated more, at least in the beginning, by what was needed, or by what they felt they had to do, than thought of financial gain.
Recently, I talked with a young person who sold life insurance. The young woman told me she was thinking of leaving the business to do something different. She was looking for direction, so she asked for suggestions of other business opportunities. I asked why she was considering leaving her current employment, and she said that she wasn’t making any money. “I try hard to sell policies,” she said, “but nobody wants to buy them. It has always been a tough business, but the last couple years have even been more difficult.”
I suggested that maybe the problem is that she has been more motivated by a desire to sell rather than by a desire to help people solve their problems. She quotes some statistics that indicate the average family does not have enough life insurance. Certainly, this seems to be a problem! In trying to solve this problem, she might discover more success providing life insurance to her clients.
The success of our endeavors depends not so much on the endeavors themselves but, rather, on our motive for doing them. It is our motive that makes the difference!
True success comes from working on things we really care about.
A person says, “There ought to be a lot of money in writing children’s books. I will write one.” And then the person is disappointed when it is rejected or doesn’t do well in the market.
Hans Christian Andersen, the Grimm brothers, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, and Rudyard Kipling were motivated to write their great children’s stories out of their love for children. Their books and stories have stood the test of time and will likely last hundreds of years, earn millions of dollars, and be remembered for their great contributions to society.
The greatest writers, the greatest quality professionals, the greatest companies – the greatest men and women in all walks of life – achieved greatness out of a desire to solve a problem, to satisfy a need, or to fill a void.
This is not to say that these people or companies did not earn a lot of money for what they produced because many have become wealthy. But in many instances the key to their success is to be found in the fact they were motivated more, at least in the beginning, by what was important to them, what society needed, or by what they felt they had to do, rather than the thought of profit. This is the actual secret – the key to success.
The person going into the restaurant business, for example, who does so with the determination to serve the best food in town, has many more chances of success than does the person who goes into the business solely for the purpose of making money. It’s a matter of motive, of emphasis or reason to do what they’re doing.
This is this true in every walk of life, every line of business, every job of every type and description. The person who made up their mind to offer the best cup of coffee in the world did exactly that. That person, as well as the coffee bean producers, got rich in the process, but getting rich was not likely the initial reason for going into business.
There is not a single thing on earth wrong with making money. It is a celebration of outstanding service and success. This is why kids mow lawns, and why millions of people get up every morning to go to work. But success and the money that accompanies it are like happiness. They cannot be sought directly. They are effects; the cause must have a powerful motive behind it.
William Shakespeare and Cecil B. DeMille were successful and became wealthy. Separated as they were in time and talent, and in many other ways, they were motivated by the same thing: to produce the very best and to express the best that was in them.
What is your motive? You might do well to consider that money may not be the primary driver to gauge success. It is at least worth considering your motives and to put them into perspective to see what adjustments might be made. True success comes from working on things we really care about.