It is a disease which has gripped the United States for a couple of decades; a disease which is starting to creep its way across Britain and Europe. This disease disguises itself as your friend before leaving you high and dry and wondering where it all went wrong.
What is this disease and why haven’t you heard about it before?
You have, but because it disguises itself as your friend you failed to recognise it for what it is.
I’m talking about the current endemic for motivation as some kind of magic elixir.
You can spend thousands on it, believing that with the right motivation you are but a step away from success. There are motivational speakers, motivational books, motivational screen savers, motivational….everything. It seems you can’t turn around without someone offering to motivate you, usually for a fee (the industry is worth £Billions) but not always. For crying out loud I even have friends on Facebook who seem to do little more than trot out motivational quotes (often out of context) all day long!
Thank God there are some who see this craze for motivation as the nonsense it is.
In the most recent episode of BBC2’s Dragon’s Den a clearly highly motivated entrepreneur was obviously missing one or two basic business essentials (such as understanding what ‘gross profit margin’ means) but felt that frequently repeating how motivated she was would plug the obvious (to the audience) gaps. Sanity was needed and new Dragon Hilary Devey provided it in five simple but sensible words of advice; “passion does not generate profit.”
Of course, to succeed in business, as in anything in life, you need to be sufficiently motivated, passionate about your dream. But, what none of the hundreds of motivational speakers out there will tell you as they take your hard-earned cash is that on its own that is not enough.
We’ve been here before with far more serious consequences, for what we are now witnessing in business we saw nearly a hundred years ago on the battlefields of Europe.
Back then, in the Great War, hundreds of thousands of young men lost their lives because they were sufficiently motivated to go ‘over the top’ for one more push. They were passionate in their belief that the desire for success, if strong enough, would be all they needed as they charged at another machine gun nest.
In 1917 the Battle of Passchendaele lasted for three months, cost 70,000 lives, a further 250,000 wounded and gained the allies a paltry five miles of ground.
There was no lack of motivation at Passchendaele, no lack of passion. What was lacking was strategic leadership. Our current day motivational messengers often include Winston Churchill’s words among the quotes they push as the route to success. Perhaps they should bear in mind Churchill’s words after Passchendaele; “a forlorn expenditure of valour and life without equal in futility.”
In 1917 the generals finally woke up and realised that without the right planning, without the strategy providing informed, intelligent direction for the motivation and the passion for their brave troops, the horrendous loss of highly motivated life would continue. That motivation and passion was crying out for strategic leadership to give it direction. It took Verdun, Somme, Passchendaele and many, many other inglorious battles for the penny to drop but, in the end, it did.
Fast forward to 2011; what is your informed, intelligent, planned strategic direction? What is the vision that provides your destination? What is the route map to take you to your destination?
If you don’t know, no amount of motivational speaking, books, screen savers or Facebook friends will help, all they will do is motivate you all the way to disaster.
On the other hand, if you do know where your business is going and how it is going to get there that alone should be sufficient motivation. If it’s not, you’re in the wrong business.
So, before you spend any more cash on that motivational guru, it might be wise to instead invest some of your money with a strategy expert. You know where we are!
© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, August 2011