Fear or Inspiration: The Two Motivators That Makes Us Move

running scaredWe see it in the news, read it in a magazine or hear it within our networks almost every day. There’s some new start-up that’s growing exponentially and breaking all kinds of projections. They’re on the fast track to becoming the “next big thing.” It’s enough to make any small business owner or entrepreneur want to throw the old adage of “slow and steady wins the race” out the window.  Who wouldn’t want their business to skyrocket to Facebook-like fame? From my own experiences and observations, I’ve found that for any business that’s progressing and expanding at warp speed, there is most commonly one of two causes for this type of growth. The differences between these causes are paramount to the ultimate success – or implosion – of the business.

Most simply defined, the two motivators for momentum are fear and inspiration. For most businesses, it’s easy to pick out which they’re experiencing. The difference can be seen in whether their actions to accommodate this growth are proactive or reactive. Not all speeds of growth are beneficial if it comes at the risk of ruining your business or losing your sanity.  The ultimate goal for any business experiencing a period of growth should be to run like you’re crossing the finish line, not like you’re being chased.

Running Scared

Especially seen in start-ups, where one good viral marketing campaign can create an insatiable consumer demand almost overnight, the momentum of business growth can make you run like you’re being chased. You’re reactionary. There’s no time to create a sensible growth plan when you’re barely able to keep up with the current demands of the business. You’re not running the business, the business is running you – or after you, rather. Sure it’s momentum and to the outside world it appears that you’re making significant progress, but in reality you’re shooting from the hip with every decision. My political experience has provided me with far too many examples of organizations who function out of fear. Jokingly we called it organized chaos, but this reactionary behavior to everything thrown at us resulted in frequent mistakes and missed opportunities. In retrospect, these situations would have greatly benefited from even just an hour or two of critical planning. This small investment of time in the short term would have given us a more proactive plan to turn to in the long term. For any business or organization that appears to be “running scared,” it’s never too late to pump the breaks and replace this fear with strategy.

Running Toward A Goal

In contrast to the first type of motivator – fear, the motivator of inspiration produces quite a different result within a business. To the outside world movement all appears the same, but inside you can clearly tell a business that functions off of a well thought out growth strategy. Unlike running scared, running toward a goal helps you to make even big decisions with less effort. Your strategy – or finish line – helps you to see the obvious answers. You’re calm, confident and collected because your focus is on anticipating the next step not reacting to the last hurdle. The inspired movers are the business owners who are able to appreciate the growth of their business, not come to curse it. Most importantly, when you have inspiration as your motivator, not fear, you are in complete control of the direction of growth. You’re able to pick and choose the opportunities that best align with your goals. When motivated by fear, you’re more likely to take on every opportunity that comes your way regardless of whether it’s the right fit. I once had someone give me the advice, “Pile as much on your plate as you can. You can always take it off later, but you can’t put it back on.” I was hesitant when I first heard this and have since learned that it’s very bad advice. Be strategic with your opportunities and don’t give into the fear that tells you another one may never come your way – with enough talent and inspiration, they always do!

In thinking about your own business – or even your personal life – which type of growth do you most familiarize yourself with? Are you running scared or are you running toward a goal? There’s no questioning the accuracy of the term “growing pains.” Growth means change and change is often uncomfortable. What’s important to remember is that between the two motivators that make us move – fear and inspiration – one drains us while the other fulfills us.  It’s important to seek out the latter to ensure that even during the most uncomfortable periods of growth that require us to stretch our limits, we have a finish line in sight and a strategy to get there feeling like a champion.

12 thoughts on “Fear or Inspiration: The Two Motivators That Makes Us Move

  1. When you look at businesses you can really tell if they are running scared of inspired, simply but what they focus there attention on.

    When you are running scared you focus on the competition, and you react and mirror all their moves in the hope that you can keep your share of the market. Profit and lose and your share value are more important, than the relationship your businesses has with its employees, suppliers, community, and customers.

    When you are inspired you focus on meeting needs of customers and on building a relationship with them. As the culture of relationship develops that starts moving into all areas of your business. You may still watch what your competition does, but you take actions based on what your customers want.

    1. Hi Robert – you’re absolutely right! A business’s focus (and whether it’s on itself or its competitors) is a key indicator to it’s motivation. Knowing your competition is smart, but too much focus here is not the best use of your time, ultimately.

  2. It’s incredibly important to not be “running scared” in your business. You make terrible decisions that aren’t based on logic or fact. This is why I always take step back every once in awhile and look at the big picture. It lets me see where things are at and see where my business is headed. I also make sure I am staying motivated and inspired every day. Great article.

    1. Very smart advice, Aaron! Yes – it is so important to be able to take that step back and see the big picture, but for some business owners this can be among the biggest challenges.

  3. Gosh girl! You are terrific! Those are all very godly insights. That is exactly right what you wrote and in so clear words! Awesome!
    Thank you very much! Thankfully I am never scared, but often confused, since I am not very computer literate and my organization skill all have to be re- learned for internet..
    Keep those insights coming….. I am staying tuned!

    1. Thanks for sharing your comment! You’re very right that organization skills are constantly changing and have to adapt to the new technologies available to us. I’m still a list-keeper, but have tried to update this time management technique by using new phone apps and web sites out there to enhance its effectiveness.

  4. Running scared or inspired are two sides of the same coin. Granted the outcome or experience could be very different depend on which perspective one takes. In other words, the drive, either from internal or external, is within our control. We just may not realize it, hence scared.

    1. You’re very right that the drive is most often within our control. How we harness this power is the difference between running scared or running inspired. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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