You know the bit in that (pretty dreadful) third Matrix film where Agent Smith and Neo are fighting it out relentlessly for about 30 minutes? After an increasingly improbable sequence of aerial kung-fu high up in a stormy sky, the two adversaries plunge to earth with a colossal impact that shatters every window for miles around.
Neo bears the brunt of the exchange, and appears lifeless in the dirt before eventually struggling to his feet. Agent Smith stands above him, and looks down with something approaching disgust. ‘Why, Mr Anderson?’ he says. ‘Why, why, why? Why do you do it? Why do you get up?'
The less said about what follows the better, but that line popped into my head recently when I was trying to find a way to sum up what it feels like to run a business.
"Why do we do it? Why do we grapple with the relentless challenges that it brings our way, when there are far easier ways to make a buck?"
If you’re like me, you might occasionally catch yourself feeling jealous of your partners or pals who have ‘normal jobs’. They seem to be able to clock off at 5 on the dot, and not spend a nanosecond thinking about work until they fire up the laptop the next day. On weekends they can focus on what’s in front of them and be present, while you’ve got plans, forecasts and frameworks bouncing around in your head when you should be concentrating on stopping your kid from falling off their bike.
So when you get up every day, look in the mirror, and yet again run the equation in your head that decides whether you jack it all in for a steady gig, why does the answer always come back: ‘I think I’ll keep going’?
What’s the spark that drives you forward? I'd never presume to guess; it's different for everyone. But I do know how that spark got there.
Everything that’s happened in your life, every sweet victory, bitter defeat, glorious challenge, crippling heartache, crushing disappointment, delicate flame of hope, and pang of despair…they all combine to form the fractious chaos that has led you to this point in your business journey, and they all make up your story.
Not your business’s story. Not your brand or product story. Not a framework, or a set of tactics, or a sales page: yours, and yours alone. And at a basic, completely inarguable level, here’s why your story is a big deal:
That may sound like a set of fluffy soundbites, but it’s true, isn’t it? And it’s crucial; the first step on this whole journey is recognising your own story as something of massive value, even if initially that’s just for yourself.
So what’s the journey? Simple: it’s taking your story, and figuring out how to put it to work so it can drive the success of your business.
But there are a few more shifts of perspective required to really make this whole thing sing. First, we need to make a solid case for why you should be thinking of telling your story at all.
Check out the next article in the series, where we’ll stop you getting caught in the Hero Trap.