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116 Work as Craft

Owning a business is a beautiful thing; a thing done quite often, not for riches, but to fulfill a dream or carry out a passion for doing something. Work viewed in this fashion embodies the qualities of a craft: skill, passion, knowledge, pride, and ownership.

Yet this expression is so easily silenced in the rush of business life. We don’t even feel it coming making the loss even more painful as it goes largely unobserved.

I meet business owners, employers and employees all over the globe that tell me that their work is sucking the life out of them and they wonder how it’s happened and what to do get it back.

For most the answer is pretty simple – it’s all about commitment. For a business to truly serve one’s life I believe you must identify and make a strong commitment to what you want out of life and how this business will ultimately aid that.

But a commitment alone isn’t enough to sustain, you also must practice and feed the elements of your commitment that allow you to advance in your craft towards some sort of mastery. Buying into talk about a recession or spending silly amounts of time on Twitter will derail your craft as surely as a misguided product launch.

For me, the key is to place total focus on several key ingredients and to practice, nurture and return to each whenever in doubt, scuffling or complaining.

The elements of a commitment filled business

Purpose – Why am I doing this? That’s the question isn’t it? Sure, it’s become cliché in business circles to suggest that need for this, but until you’ve got this, work will rarely be more than a series of activities loosely tied to a set of objectives.

Years ago one of my clients was indicted for some shady business practices. Did I suspect something was fishy? Perhaps. But I know that was the day I vowed never again to let myself work with people I didn’t respect.

In fact, my higher purpose was crystallized in that moment. I realized after some soul searching that my business could be a vehicle for helping small business owners get their lives back and that is what drives everything I do and fills me day with an incredible sense of purpose and meaning.

Love – Thankfully, this a word we can now use in business without being thought weak. Ironically, it takes a great deal more strength to do things in business out of love rather than out of profit, and yet, to do so may be the most profitable methodology you can adopt.

I really love the people I work with and for. I love the people that are drawn to this brand and community and the only way that happens is if you continuously communicate what you believe is important.

Wonder – Some roll their eyes when I say this, but I wake up every day expecting a miracle and, consequently, I’m rarely let down. I am blessed with an insatiable curiosity and it helps me marvel at all the cool things I get to do.

Sometimes in business we can’t control everything that happens, but we can control how we react to and view what happens. If you choose to let what happens around you be your teacher, you’ll end up with an incredible education in a very short time.

This isn’t a wide eyed, no information kind of wonder, this is the kind of faith that comes from experiencing the payoff that comes from nurturing a commitment to purpose.

Courage – Many people picture the entrepreneur as the risk taking go-getter braced against the rain and wind beating the odds as others choose to stay on the porch. Of course few pictures could be more inaccurate.

Entrepreneurs don’t enjoy risk anymore than the next person, they’ve just accepted a few things and grabbed the courage to push on. I work with an awesome bike trainer and during tough interval workouts he always reminds us that we should be having some serious doubts and questions while in the middle of this or we’re cheating ourselves.

Your commitment must contain certainty about where you are going while allowing for and accepting a great deal of doubt about how you might get there. Now that takes courage. Once you accept this, you’ll never stress about where the money is going to come from again.

Grace – Business can feel like one jagged, lurching ride at times. When you replace doubt with purpose, ambition with love, dread with wonder, and fear with courage, something incredibly graceful can emerge.

A commitment filled business has a rhythm that is both intimate and elegant and people are drawn to it not by word or even action, but by something much harder to describe – authenticity.

If this post has made you even the least bit uncomfortable, or even if it’s made you smile with recognition, I’d like you to consider the following question – What are you willing to give up in order to create a commitment filled business?