This morning, I could not get out of bed. I mean, I.could.not.get.out.of.bed.
And the thing is, I love mornings. I think it’s the best time of day—I’m wide awake, no one is there to bother me, and it’s a fresh start. When I wake up early I feel like I’m one step ahead of the world.
So when I open my eyes but refuse to leave the covers, it usually means something is wrong. It sometimes takes me awhile to figure out what that “something” is.
One of the best mentors I ever had was my first boss out of college. He was like a second dad to me—and even though that particular job was not my inner calling, he taught me more about work ethic, life, and drive than most people.
Upon returning from a work-conference, we (the entire sales team) sat in a meeting room listening to his recap. When he came to the end, he didn’t lecture us on leads or how we would capitalize on this most recent event. Instead, he said, “And now—I want to share with you the best quotes of the conference.”
I thought this was funny. I love quotes, don’t get me wrong—my mom used to make a book filled with motivational quotes for my track and cross-country teams in high school. I just expected my boss to be all business after a business conference.
He went through a couple lines—none of which I now remember—before he stopped and said, “And the best quote of the entire conference: A journalist asked a CEO, ‘So what keeps you up at night?’ and the man shot down his question and said, ‘It’s not about what keeps you up at night. It’s about what gets you up in the morning.’”
Motivation by fear is different than motivation by drive
I admire happy people. I admire people who are patient, who stay calm under pressure, who always see the positive when everyone else sees the negative.
I am one who tends to see the negative. More often than I would like to admit, I am driven by fear rather than motivation. Multiple times, I made major life decisions (we’re talking, moving time zones and accepting horrible job offers) based on a fear of missing out, fear of missing an opportunity, fear nothing better would come my way.
What that CEO meant, and what my boss reiterated, is we should be driven by the things that propel us forward, not by those that hold us back. The things keeping us up at night are the things we most fear: We’ll miss a deadline, we’ll let our team down, we’ll lose a contract, our friends won’t talk to us, we’ll hate our new city, we’ll hate our new job…
We only think about the things we don’t want to happen. We never consider the amazing things that could happen.
The weekend before I started telling my new job, I did not sleep. This is something only my parents and closest friends know. I just secured my dream job offer. I should have been excited to start on Monday—and here I was, silently praying Monday would never come.
I have been burned—I mean, really, horribly burned—by jobs in the past. A small part of me thought because it happened before, it would happen again. I was so focused on the one thing keeping me up at night, I couldn’t focus on the opportunity in front of me.
You’ll never build something great if you keep worrying it will burn to the ground.
You know what? Those things keeping you up at night—they will happen. You will miss deadlines. You will fight with family and friends. You will get screamed at at work. You will enter the wrong formula into an Excel file and completely ruin your company’s projected spending. You will.
These things will happen. And they will suck. And you will go to through a lot of wine in a very short timeframe.
You know what else will happen? You will build something great. You will have a killer idea. You will throw the best birthday party ever for your best friend. You will write things, invent things, build things, invest in things—you will do all the things. You will do so many great things if you keep pushing forward. Whatever keeps you up at night, do not let it hold you back.
Wake up each morning and be excited about all the amazing things that can happen, and the great things you can accomplish, in the next sixteen hours. The things that get us up in the morning are the things that move us forward.