On Pushing, Pulling and Two Kinds of Control

July 22, 2009

There is a “push hard” school of getting things done. It’s the place where you play a bigger game and take yourself to the next level and commit to excellence and all that.

Makes me tired just to write that.

It’s not entirely mistaken. It does help to maintain a certain degree of motivation and self-discipline. But… sigh. I think we can get things done without the hard – or the pushing for that matter.

When I was in college, I participated in a student organization that held an annual festival. Planning that event was a ton of work. All the decision-making, coordination and attention to detail required real tenacity over many weeks and months.

I remember observing, “Most people don’t realize what it takes to make something happen.

“This is what it takes to make something happen.”

I think advocates of the “push hard” school of getting things done are just trying to help people understand what it takes to make something happen. They are trying to communicate the necessity of that tenacity, of consistent persistence.

But once you grasp that, once you understand what is required, I’m not persuaded that pushing is the thing to emphasize.

At least not when you are applying consistent persistence to work that you love. When you are doing your thing – you know, your thing – doing what’s necessary for its success seems, well, obvious. I mean, isn’t that what you are already doing?

And I think this is why so many solopreneurs work so darn much. We know what it takes and we care about our work an awful lot, so we keep at it. And at it. And at it.

But it’s not pushing. It’s being pulled.

It’s being compelled to do the work by our passion for it.

When my husband, dog and I visit the nearby river beach, if it’s a windy day, we often see kite-boarders there doing their beautiful crazy thing with the wind on the water. It obviously takes a lot of strength and skill. Because without them, it’s pretty clear you could lose control and wipe out big time.

Being pulled forward by your business is equally thrilling, but it takes similar strength and skill. Without them, it’s easy to wipe out as spectacularly as those kite-boarders can. You need control, but a very different kind of control than what is promoted by the push hard advocates.

What strengths and skills do you need to develop to be pulled forward by your business without losing control, so you can enjoy the ride without wiping out?

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3 responses


  1. 1896 days ago,
    jenniferhofmann said:

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time. Thanks for reminding me that I *am* already working hard – and that pushing isn’t necessarily the answer.

    You rock.

    – Jen

  2. @Jen –
    I know enough about you to know you are most definitely already working hard. So -no- no more pushing. I say more blueberry picking. Answers will come during play and rest. Truly. :) C

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