5 Lessons Social Entrepreneurship Teaches Us About Motivation

5 Lessons Social Entrepreneurship Teaches Us About Motivation

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social entrepreneurs
Image Credit | Tom's Shoes

What comes to mind when you hear “accountability” or “motivation?” For many, these words conjure the image of a coach or an accountability partner “cracking the whip” so they’d finish certain tasks – even when they’re dragging their behinds and aren’t inspired by the project at all.

No wonder people are sitting on the couch and complaining that they lack motivation. The problem isn’t that there’s something inherently wrong with them. They may just be going about it the wrong way.

What if there’s a better way to get motivated? What if we can take control and create motivation through our actions? What if we can get ourselves motivated by setting up the right conditions?

If you go beyond “accountability” and do meaningful work that inspires you everyday, wouldn’t you feel more driven? When you hear stories about successful entrepreneurs, you often get a sense of “inevitability” – they’re doing what they do not because of external circumstances but because of intrinsic drives.

They’re doing the work not because someone is cracking the whip. They’re driven to take meaningful actions everyday because something deeper is driving their actions and decisions. How can you set up the conditions so taking action becomes inevitable? How do you create meaningful work so you feel inspired and driven everyday?

Social entrepreneurship offers us many insights into how business, motivation and meaningful work come together to create successful enterprises. Successful social entrepreneurs are motivated by the impact and meaning they create through their businesses.

Here are 5 lessons on motivation we can learn from social entrepreneurs who build profitable ventures driven by their desires to make a difference in the world:

1. Set Intentional Goals

You’ve heard many times that you need to set clear goals. Unfortunately, many people focus too much on arbitrary metrics to measure success without fully considering whether those numbers are in alignment with what truly drives them.

To get motivated, you need to set goals with intention. Then track metrics that reflect the impact you want to achieve. You may have to challenge conventional wisdoms to set your own bar. You may have to devise innovative ways to measure success.

If you don’t find meaning behind the numbers, the sense of achievement becomes temporary. You can easily end up on the hamster wheel. The grind can wear you down and leave you feeling fatigue and unmotivated. On the other hand, achieving metrics that speak to a meaningful goal gives you the long-term positive feedback that’ll keep you motivated day-in-day-out.

2. Anchor In a Community

You can fuel your motivation by giving meaning to your venture within a larger context. Rachel Brathen’s 109 World is built on a global community of yoga enthusiasts, while Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank transformed the economy of many third world communities through micro financing.

Instead of being product- or service-focused, turn your attention to the community you aim to serve and find a match between the needs of the market and your vision, skills, expertise or product idea.

You’ll gain inspiration to fuel your actions by listening to and interacting with your community. Such dialogues give you continual and meaningful input that helps you evolve in a meaningful direction.

When your business creates products and services relevant to your community, you get the positive feedback that’ll further motivate you to grow.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ― Mother Teresa

3. Give Meaning To Commercial Success

Meaningful venture and commercial success aren’t mutually exclusive. Blake Mycoskie’s TOMS Shoes and Gavin Armstrong’s Lucky Iron Fish are both profitable businesses born out of and still closely tied to a social cause.

These social enterprises are doing more good by using profits from a commercially successful venture to fuel a cause that motivates them. Putting meaning behind profit gives social entrepreneurs the positive feedback that encourages them to do more good because it’s an evidence of their impact.

More often than not, many social entrepreneurs gain clarity on what truly motivates them when they’re not constrained by funding. Such motivation can be more powerful than any financial factor.

4. Get Inspired By Real Live Experience

Many social entrepreneurs find the calling that motivates them to succeed after eye-opening travel experiences that cracked open their worlds and broadened their perspectives.

Scott Harrison of charity: water built his non-profit after a life-changing trip to West Africa. You don’t have to go to some remote, poverty-stricken countries to find your calling. You can discover more opportunities in your backyard than you’d ever imagine if you tune in, stay open, get involved and be relevant.

Look for motivation and find out what makes you tick by interacting with people and communities you care about. Understand their needs and map your skills and expertise to solving a problem that’ll make a difference in their lives.

Often times there’s no substitute for getting boots on the ground and find out how you can make an impact through participation and trial-and-error.

5. Tap Into Your Strength 

Understanding and applying your strength makes you effective. Instead of trying to be perfect in everything, do work that taps into your strength and you’ll find more passion in what you do.

When you focus your strength on high value activities toward a meaningful goal, you’ve a much better chance of creating successful results that gives you the positive feedback to further motivate you.

Success fuels confidence, and this confidence will keep you motivated to do what matters.

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places” – Ernest Hemingway

How are you going to find your motivation by setting the stage for meaningful actions? Leave a comment below!

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