Don’t let the donkey win

Years ago, when I was a little girl, my dad told me something my Grampa had said about me; apparently, Grampa had noticed I was rather stubborn. I believe his exact words were, “She could out-stubborn a donkey.”

I don’t think it was meant as a compliment.

But I thought it was hilarious, and it stuck with me. Since then, I’ve always had a funny kind of pride for my stubbornness.

And it turns out, that stubbornness has been my saving grace.

Building a business takes a LOT of work

We don’t talk about this much in the entrepreneurial world. Certainly not as much as we should.

Maybe it’s the romanticized notion of the entrepreneur as Lone Wolf, fueled by the excitement of living on the edge.

Maybe it’s the idea that if we admit to struggling or having a hard time, we’ll be seen as failures.

Maybe it’s the simple fact that people aren’t talking about it… leading to a nasty perpetual cycle where everyone thinks that they’re the only one who’s struggling, since nobody else is talking about it.

But the truth is, building a business is hard work.

There are times when all you want to do is just give up, throw in the towel and get one of those cushy day jobs with a regular pay check.

And you wonder if that means you don’t really love what you do, or maybe you don’t really “want it” – not “enough”, whatever any of that means.

Now, I’m about to give you a bit of advice on what to do when the going gets tough. But first, I want to say this:

There is nothing wrong with choosing a different path.

If you come to the conclusion that hanging up the entrepreneurial coat and taking up the day job gig is the right choice for you (at least for now), there is no shame in that.

There is no failure here, only data.

Got it? Ok, good. Now we can move on.

If you’ve hit the hard, and you’re considering giving up, but in your heart of hearts you really want to make this business thing work, it’s time to dig in.

Dig in to your Big Why

The most important thing you can do to keep your heart in the game is to dig in to your Big Why.

What is your Big Why? It’s the thing you feel compelled by, the thing that you can’t NOT do… if you believed in fate, you could call it your life’s purpose.

I don’t really believe in fate myself, but I do think we all have a higher calling; a something that calls to our hearts so deeply and so strongly that to ignore it stunts our growth and wounds our very being.

So ask yourself, why are you in business?

Here’s a hint: your Big Why answer doesn’t actually have anything to do with you. It’s not about money, it’s not about having freedom or doing what you want. Your Big Why is all about making a difference in the world, whether that difference means having a huge impact on lots of people, or a tiny impact on just a few.

So, who are the people you want (need) to help, and what do you want (need) to help them with?

When your business is based on your Big Why, it becomes bigger than you, bigger than the hard times.

Because you aren’t just in this to make money, you’re in this to live your life’s purpose, whatever that means to you.

Plugging in to your Big Why changes the game

When you think you’re in business to make money, or so that you can have more freedom to do what you want, the hard becomes that much harder. Partly because there are other ways to accomplish the same goals.

Largely because these goals just aren’t that big. It’s easy to convince yourself that they’ll either never happen, or that they aren’t really worth the time and effort it will take to achieve them.

But when you’re in business to serve your Big Why, the game changes.

Because any progress towards your goals is worthwhile, when you’re trying to make the world a better place. Every little bit counts, and you’re heart knows the truth of that.

Unfortunately, there’s also a downside to working for a higher cause…

Beware the Resistance

When you’re plugged in to your Big Why, there’s a tricky thing that happens. On the one hand, you’re more motivated than ever; your goals have a higher purpose when your business is about much more than just you making a living doing what you love.

On the other hand, working towards a higher purpose raises the stakes. All of a sudden, this thing you’re doing is about more than just you. And the part of you that’s still stuck in Other People’s Stories is going to be scared.

It will try to convince you that you aren’t capable, that it’s too much, that you aren’t {whatever} enough for this.

This is bullshit by the way, you’re capable of more than you’ve ever realized. In fact, your Youness is capable of anything. We’ll talk abut that more later.

Resistance will raise it’s ugly little head, and it will do everything it can to make you give up.

Resistance is a real ass

And he has some dirty tricks up his sleeve.

When you won’t give up, he tries to stall you instead. Case in point; last week I had a major project. It wasn’t necessarily a big project, but it was one that I had promised I would have done by Friday.

But I was feeling Resistance like crazy.

I decided I needed to do more prep work, I wanted to try a new process, and it needed to be tested.

I became distracted focusing on whether or not to pursue an educational opportunity.

I even cleaned my house(!).

Finally, Friday rolled around, and I hadn’t even gotten started. This is the point when you really start feeling like giving up; Resistance has convinced you to put off your thing so long that it feels like you can’t possibly get it done on time, properly. So you may as well just give up.

Resistance, at this point, is rubbing his dirty little paws together, grinning and slobbering and ready to do a little dance of victory.

Cue the stubbornness

This is when being stubborn becomes a virtue.

You see, building a business is about showing up, more than anything else.

When times are good, when times are hard, the more consistently you just show up, the better your chances are of making it work.

And when times are hard, and Resistance is this close to winning, you gotta remember – don’t let the donkey win.

Dad said I could out-stubborn a donkey, and by whatever gods you may believe in, I will NOT let that ass Resistance win.

So I dug in my feet, I put on my stubborn face, and I got to work on my project.

I did not get it done on Friday. I didn’t even get it done on Saturday.

But by goddess, I DID get it done. And it was even better than I’d thought it would be.

And for one more day, I showed up, I did the work – and I beat Resistance.

Are you facing down Resistance? What’s one thing you could do to move forward, even just a tiny bit?


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