Take a moment and think about the word “work” and notice the images that come to your mind now. Notice also the feelings and any sounds that your mind conjures up in relation to this word “work”.
Quickly grab a pen and a piece of paper and note down whatever that comes to mind immediately. You want to capture this before reading further.
You’ll probably find the following themes familiar.
- I’ve got to work hard to be successful
- I need to work hard to earn /make a lot of money
- Work is boring
- This is difficult.
- Getting a job done well is really tough work
- Thank God It’s Friday!
- It’s not easy to make money, you’ve got to work really hard
- Working is no fun
- I have separate life compartments for work and play
- I don’t have work-life balance
- Why do I have to work today?
- I hate the thought of going to work and when I’m there I count the hours until I get to leave
- I don’t feel like going to work today. I have a headache.
And the list goes on. Is it true for you that Work is generally NO Fun and that it’s difficult to relate work with play?
I was once like that. People would say to me “Oh wow, you’re in PwC. That’s one of the top accounting firms in the world. Good on you!” And I would reply “Ah well, the standards are high and it’s really tough trying to stay ahead. I’ve got to work twice if not three times as hard just to keep up”.
In order to keep myself sane, I created separate compartments in my life for both work and play. I realised that the more I distinguished and compared between the two, the more I dreaded work. I found work to be tough, not fun and in order to make a lot of money; I needed to “sacrifice” a lot of my time, effort and energy for my career. I caught myself one day asking, “How could I make work more like play so that I can enjoy work?” That’s when I began to internalise what working with passion really meant.
Fast forward to 4 years ago when I started my education business – teaching financial literacy to children age 5 to 18, people would infer the same when they learned that I ran and managed my own business. This time they exclaimed “What? You teach what? Oh, so you run a kindergarten and you teach children about money. It must be tough huh, to create a new market for this niche.”
This time I found myself constantly wondering over the source of these comments. If only they knew how much I enjoy running my own business. Also, rather than focus on potential problems, could they have focused on the value it would bring to people instead?
In retrospect, the knowledge and skills that I’ve acquired through my business in the last 4 years would probably be the equivalent of taking individual degrees in Sales, Marketing, Advertising, Retail, Operations and Communication. Except that in this case, my business equipped me with practical experiences and skills that work in the real world. Not just theories that only look good on paper. I saved not only money, but also precious time and in return, I am enriched both financially and in knowledge. Of course it’s also a fun journey. I met and befriended so many wonderful business owners and parents. I was particularly amazed at an event where the kids and their parents had so much fun making money; they made $10,000 in just under 4 hours!
I remember the challenges in my first year of business. I had just returned to Malaysia from a long stint in the Middle East. I discovered then that my friends were scattered all around the globe and I didn’t know very many people in Malaysia. I took over an ailing business that had only 8 students then and my main challenge was to get more customers.
Four years later, most of my customers thought I’d established the MoneyTree brand myself, when in fact I was merely a licensed owner. Everyone in the neighbourhood knew to look for Penny if they wanted their kids to learn about money. Parents from out of town were willing to drive 5hrs on a return journey so that their kids could learn the ins-and-outs about money. Before long, International Schools started to persuade us to teach our course as part of their supplementary program.
I’m sharing my experiences and journey because many people relate success with a lot of negativity, mostly with working hard. And yet, their results differed despite the slogging. The typical person starts working at the age of 24 and retires at about 60. That’s nearly 40 years or two thirds of one’s existence up to then. For what purpose would we associate work with the words – “hard work, boring, difficult” and live a relatively unhappy, unaccomplished and unfulfilled life? Yet, most of us naturally think of work that way.
If we’d examine the lives of successful entrepreneurs, they would opine differently. Would you like to know the secret to success? Read on and I will share this secret with you in a moment.
Has anyone ever told you told that “whatever your mind focuses on expands”? Now this obviously explains that whenever you think that work is tough or making money is difficult, it really becomes so. At this moment, you might want jot down any negative thoughts you have about money, career, wealth and success. If there’s a thought of scarcity or fear, note them down. You might recognise some of the following themes:
- I won’t be getting that promotion because I’m not as good as my colleague.
- I don’t deserve that position because I don’t know how to lead. I’m not a good leader.
- My business is not as good as my competitor’s because my marketing skills are not good enough. Hence, it did not receive ample market visibility.
- I’m not as good a salesperson because I’m not good at influencing people.
Did you notice what’s common in these themes? There’s always a reason for your results. You see, what your mind focuses on expands. If you focus on the reasons in your career and / or business (instead of results), you inadvertently end up sabotaging your own success.
“Okay, so what should I do instead?” You may ask.
One of Napoleon Hill’s hallmark expressions is “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”. My suggestion is focus on the “how” instead. Recall that my biggest challenge with my business at that time was that I wasn’t “connected”. I could have also focused on the fact that I didn’t have sales and marketing skills; limited knowledge about the education business; didn’t know anything about children (I didn’t have kids of my own); not a good influencer and communicator; etc.
Instead, I believed I can be successful and rather than focusing on the reasons, I focused on the results. Throughout the entire period I honed my skills with new knowledge and applying that knowledge to my business. Looking back, I can summarise my journey in 1 word,……FUN!
It’s interesting to note that the kids I taught shared the same sentiment. In every class, there’s so much energy and enthusiasm, many parents even decided they would rather stay back to watch their kids’ participation. In class, we practiced learning by doing. Our students didn’t just come to “work” on-time, they would come to “work” early because they enjoyed “working”. The majority of them almost always stayed back, sometimes to learn a new skill and other times to help out another classmate. It was a joy to watch but I couldn’t help but think that it’s a shame we adults have somehow lost that magic growing up.
Now that you know how powerful your thoughts about work are – they can either limit or liberate you; what would you choose to focus on? How would you reframe your mind to think positively about work so you can achieve success easily and have lots of fun whilst at it.