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Why passion is vital to help us excel in our training businesses


As training business owners we need to have a passion that drives us, because times are tough out there aren’t they? Our short-term extrinsic motivators have a role to play but they are not enough to encourage resilience and outstanding performance. That has to come from within us, the bigger picture, the reason why we were put on the planet to do our ‘thing’, whatever that ‘thing’ is. I have plenty of short-term extrinsic motivators. Those of you that know me and know my story will know what those are and why. But they don’t propel me out of bed in the morning.

So what part does passion and motivation play in achieving success in our training businesses? This is a question I am asking myself, on this particular Sunday, and which I am posing to you in this blog.

The question actually came to me yesterday during a visit to the local Pub to support one of its yearly events aimed at raising funds for the people of Kerala, in Southern India. This is a cause dear to my heart, having spent our Honeymoon there in 2009, marvelling at the hospitality, friendliness, humility and the most amazing level of customer service. Here’s how it got me thinking of motivation and success in a training business.

The focal point of the lunchtime event, apart from the curry, was an international piano bar superstar, playing keyboard, and singing, accompanied by three teenage female singers. Such an amazing talent, enjoyed for free, in a country pub. It got me thinking about passion, achievement – about excellence, about success, and all the ingredients that are necessary for talent and aspiration to be become a successful reality when we are running our own businesses.

Someone once said to me, and I have always remembered it, that, daily, time is distributed democratically to all of us, and that its inequality only comes from how we choose to use it. Why is that? Surely it is having a deep-rooted passion for what we do and what we stand for, that drives us through thick and thin and makes us make the most of every day? Carpe diem!

That passion, that raison d’etre, must be the main ingredient – take all the others away, and the recipe will fail – half-baked, a sorry reminder for what could have been? Whether you would call it a strength or a weakness, a desire to achieve is paramount for me. It’s hardwired into me. It’s part of my core process. So, there’s myself, my team, my clients, my coachees, my delegates, and of course my kids ….all of whom become the subject of my motivating! It’s tiring!

Phew! But let’s pause for a moment – what do we actually mean by motivation? Am I kidding myself …can I actually motivate others or just me? Here’s a simple definition of motivation by Wendy Pan, which I can relate to: “To give reason, incentive, enthusiasm, or interest that causes a specific action or certain behaviour”.

But where should those reasons, incentives, the enthusiasm or the interest come from? This blog is not the place to critique the various academic theories that have proliferated for decades – from Herzberg and Maslow to Moss Kanter and beyond. What I really what to stress though is that, from my experience, our passion, our intrinsic motivators are overwhelmingly successful and sustainable in the short and longer term. I could see that on the faces of those musicians yesterday. Extrinsic motivators are only of short-term, limiting value, and can rebound with devastating consequences.

Of course deep, intrinsic motivation, although it may be the key ingredient is not enough. To stand out, to differentiate ourselves, to excel at whatever it is we choose to do with our training business also requires talent, a multitude of skills including a great marketing mindset and expertise, the right attitude, often a helpful dose of luck, and practice.

Winston Churchill was renowned for saying “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential”. In the book “Outliers” author Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly takes ‘practice makes perfect’ one step further, by stressing the need for 10,000 hours to hone a skill or task to distinction. I have to say it has become something of a mantra in our household, much to the annoyance of our kids, aspiring to quick success in their respective fields!

So, we may well have done our 10,000 hours of more as trainers. To excel at running a training business we need a core, intrinsic motivator that drives us on through good and bad times. We also need to do our 10,000 hours as the entrepreneur, marketer, innovator and risk-taker. So what is your passion? Really, honestly? And on that note remember this: If we don’t invest very much, then defeat doesn’t hurt very much and winning is not very exciting.

Alison Miles-Jenkins

Founder & CEO 

How To Market Training

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