What Drives Me
During 2020 I repetitively heard comments to stay positive during these COVID times. These were always done with the best of intentions of the speaker. Often doing their best to keep everyone upbeat during some pretty tough times.As there was no international tourism, the scuba diving industry in Thailand was hit hard.
The inner me always found these comments a little frustrating and I didn’t know why. During COVID I had been working hard against the norm, making changes to my business and expanding the company. There have been some good results for us. Oddly though, I don’t think I was positive during this period, it actually felt the opposite.
Why did I feel like this and what was driving me? I needed to do some soul searching and research to find the answer.
Positivity Without Action
Mother Teresa once said:
“Positivity without action is false hope”Mother Teresa
This quote really summed up my frustrations about the “stay positive” quotes. Being positive alone and not taking some form of positive action simply does not work. If all we needed were positive thoughts, I would now be the winner of a mega lottery, married to Elle Macpherson and playing in a successful rock and roll band.
I then realized that the results I had been achieving were not through my thoughts, they are through my actions.
“Were these actions a result of positivity or positive thoughts?”
My answer was a clear no. If my actions were not because of positive thoughts then were they because of negative thoughts? The answer is also no, however not a clear no.
Things are going to be bad
When the issues of COVID started to take effect, a friend and I were talking. I was expressing my opinion that this COVID thing was “going to be very bad”. She turned to me and said “Stay positive, this will all be over in a few months”. As we are all aware now, the issues that COVID was handing us simply did not end with positive thoughts. Getting through COVID is going to take actions, and some serious ones at that.
In hindsight, my “this is going bad” outlook is a driving force for me. My thoughts of things being bad both now and in the future are what has been motivating me. With this in mind, “Was I being driven by negative thoughts?” If so, in this case, is it better to have a dimmer look at the future rather than a positive outlook?
I knew I had to take action and my thoughts were, “What can I do right now, today, that can improve my future or in COVID case, save my future?”
As we entered in to a lockdown, the first steps were to attend to things that were under our control. There were so many things we could not do, but still a lot we could do.
As with most high seasons, we neglected the website, ignored blogs and updates and SEO features. The same was with our Facebook and Instagram profiles. The six weeks of lockdown were spent working on our online presence.
This was not done with a positive or negative outlook; it was more with a “requirement” attitude. To be successful in any business there are set requirements in order to be successful. They are akin to household chores, we don’t necessarily like doing them, but they do have to be done. Not with an attitude more so with discipline.
If you want to be good or the best at what you do, then it requires action with focus as well as discipline. There is not a lot of room for feelings. As our friends at Nike say “Just do it”.
Life is difficult
I read this quote almost 25 years ago. It has been the focus on how I have seen life for more than a quarter of a century.
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”― M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
This quote reminds me that nothing in life is easy. It takes work, a lot of work, and once we accept that we need to do that work, life then becomes easier. The way to make life easier is not to ponder on the difficulties but to take action. The harder you work, the easier life becomes.
A road trip shortly after lockdown had me witness one the world’s biggest dive centres in action. I was impressed, seriously impressed. Just few short weeks after COVID lockdown the dive centre had 150 divers in a single day, two weeks later it was a touch over 200.
As with anything in life, we should admire those that have achieved, especially those in our chosen field. Their efforts should be what inspires and motivates us in the future. We shouldn’t look at them with resentment, we should look with admiration. We should strive to be the best at what we do and we should use other successful businesses or individuals as motivation.
With admiration of others achievements, we can set our goals. Those goals need to be realistic and obtainable and most importantly, measurable. This grand dive centre wasn’t built in a day, it was accumulated over 28 years and we need to keep that clearly in mind. It did however start the same way as every other dive centre…. with one diver.
My other passion is golf and to me, golf is the easiest analogy to set business goals. With golf you can set a whole range measurable goals and most of these can be in small increments. Total score for a round can represent a business final goal. I started playing golf 40 years ago. In the beginning I regularly had scores in the 120’s. My best round ever was in 2020 and was an 81. But anyone that has played (or been addicted) to golf will tell you the total score is not the only goal. Making pars and birdies keep you motivated, as good drives, good sand shots and having a long putt go in.
After 40 years I still love my golf. I think the reason is that there are goals and targets and they can constantly change. My total score has gotten lower and where I used play trying to get par, I am now trying to birdie a hole. Business should be looked at the same way.
Producing any positive outcome in your life demands a progressive series of actions. Our first step during COVID was to start another venture on Koh Tao. This could be viewed as a positive action or it could be seen a necessity in achieving a goal. If I want to win the lottery I need to at least by a ticket. Our ticket was Koh Tao.
“If life gives you lemons, then make lemonade”. 2020 handed Thailand and anyone involved in the tourism industry their fair share of lemons. And there was only one thing we could do…make lemonade. We could only play with the cards we were dealt. All our cards had domestic tourism on them.
The next three months saw me making lemonade in Bangkok. The action to go there was done with some trepidation. Again, I can’t say this action was made with positive thinking. To survive we needed to make change and change is rarely easy or comfortable. Change often requires you to step out of your comfort zone. As M. Scott Peck said, “Life is difficult” and so is business. We accepted that life in 2020 was going to be difficult. We did the work and got some results. In the end, the 2020 lemonade was sweeter than it could have been.
In reflection, I don’t believe my actions were done with positivity or negativity. What I was concerned about and still am, is scared of our immediate future holds. Being worried of the future is my motivation. These COVID times are will be the toughest times most people have and will face in their lifetime. It is not a time just to be or think positive. It is a time for action.
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