Do you ever realize that a series of meetings, which at first glance are unrelated, have a very concrete common thread? This is what happened to me recently.
In a period of 48 hours I attended the recording of a podcast , whose theme was social responsibility vs profitability, met a mentee where we discussed the progress of his project, and attended an entrepreneurial meetup where a speaker spoke about procrastination . It wasn’t until a few hours later that I realized that all of these topics had the same backstory; entrepreneurial motivation.
Our values as a source of entrepreneurial motivation
We all know, as an entrepreneur, what it’s like to be motivated, let alone lose our motivation (it happens to us all from time to time). What escapes us, for most of us, is where our motivation comes from. What are the sources that feed it?
As part of the podcast, the host asks entrepreneurs what motivates them to act in a socially responsible manner in situations where this impacts their profitability negatively. The answer comes down to the core values that drive entrepreneurs.
It also shows that their values are responsible, for the most part, for their perseverance when things go wrong or when their decisions are attacked from all sides.
An important finding from entrepreneurs is that these must be THEIR values and not those that society ‘imposes’ on entrepreneurs.
When a company adopts values that are socially well-regarded but which do not closely reflect the values of the founders (main managers) it will not be motivated to act ethically (in accordance with its values) when the cost is too high. The same is true in large companies when its employees do not share corporate values. The expression used by one of the entrepreneurs during the podcast illustrates this very clearly. He said ‘At some point the mirror cracks’ .
It is then that we see the appearance of companies’ behaviors that are totally dissonant with the messages conveyed by them.
Just think of what is happening now with, among others, the big oil, telecommunications and pharmaceutical companies.
The goal as a source of entrepreneurial motivation
There is nothing wrong with setting goals to motivate yourself. It works more often than not.
The problem arises when reaching our goals becomes the main, if not the only, source of our motivation.
The adage that says The end justifies the means sets the stage for unethical behavior.
In order to achieve our goal, we are then ready to act ‘temporarily’ against our values.
The catch is that the path to achieving our goals represents almost all of the time spent at work.
So we come to forget our values in order to do what it takes to achieve our goals.
I don’t need to quote you studies, although there are a few, to convince you that acting against its values on a daily basis is exhausting, even draining. It’s also a great recipe for making sure you’re unhappy (or at least unhappy with our situation).
Intrinsic vs extrinsic entrepreneurial motivations
During my meeting with my mentee, we discussed the progress of his project, which was stagnating at the time of our previous meeting. The latter realizes that his initial motivation (to make a lot of money) was no longer strong enough to move him forward. In addition, there were more and more choices presented to him where the best, in order to achieve his goal, made him seriously uncomfortable for example final expense leads.
So he looked for another source of motivation. What he found by identifying the values on which he wants his project to be based. They were drawn from his own values. This awareness not only allowed him to regain his entrepreneurial momentum, but it significantly changed the plan he had made to achieve his goals (one of which remains to make a lot of money). He realizes that how to achieve his goals is just as important, if not more, than achieving his goals. A more pleasant daily life, where he feels comfortable with his decisions, has a positive impact on his motivation.
What should be remembered is that intrinsic sources of motivation, such as our fundamental values, ensure a stronger and more lasting entrepreneurial motivation than extrinsic sources, such as objectives, incentives or values that are not ours .
Extrinsic sources of motivation are useful and beneficial in that they are not the only or primary sources of motivation.