Determination or Desperation?
One of the core traits of my best clients is a need to have their business succeed. It's not that they don't
have the talent or ability to work for someone else, but rather that the combination of their personality and the
financial (and personal) rewards of succeeding in their own business make it unacceptable to return to the "get a
One of the things that sets them apart from many others that I run across in business is a determination to succeed. You might say they are
determined to make their business succeed... despite the economy, despite their energy levels, despite what others
You might even say that they are driven (but not in the sense of the "Type A" personality or hard-driven
executives.) Rather, more in the sense of the committed visionary who will not rest until his dream becomes a
Back when I was hiring people and managing them, I came to realize that the most important two things to screen for
was attitude and aptitude. (It still is.) They are both equally important. Aptitude is important
because if you don't already have the basic talent that the job, position, tasks require, then it doesn't matter
how great your attitude is, your performance will be abysmal. Forever. (Well, almost forever.
Long years of miserable, painful practice will raise your performance from abysmal to merely substandard.)
Attitude is important because even if you are talented... gifted, even... but you don't really care about using
that talent or you use the talent to just
skate by, then your performance is no better than average (and often worse.) And you will be highly
The combination of aptitude and attitude, however, is a winning one. But this isn't an article about
hiring. It is an article about succeeding in business. Your business. And when you have that
combination in your business, then you have a winning business, as well... in the long run.
I encounter so many small business owners who would like their business to succeed. There are even some who
want it to succeed. But that is a
far cry from needing it to succeed, being
driven to make it succeed.
The combination of aptitude and attitude is a winning one.
Now, I have to be careful here, because I don't want to give you the impression that you should be desperate to
have your business succeed. Desperation can sometimes share similar characteristics with being determined --
even driven -- but the results are very different.
Desperation will destroy your business. It will create a tone of... well, desperation. We all know that
people are desperate when they are losing and are out of options (at least they think they are out of
options.) Desperate people grasp at anything they think might "rescue" them. Desperate people look for
rescuers, rather than partners.
Determined people, on the other hand, have a very different tone. First and foremost, they take
responsibility for themselves and for their business. They make mistakes. But when they do, they
acknowledge them, learn from them, and look for ways to recover from them.
Determined people also search for options. They weigh probabilities of success for each course of
action. Where they can, they initiate strategic alliances to leverage their strengths and the strengths of
others. But, most importantly of all, they have an attitude of "Never Give Up, Never Surrender" (hat tip to
In their minds (and attitude), they will do whatever they need to do (within the bounds of law and personal moral
code) to make their business a success. For them, there is no alternative.
Determined people can experience setbacks, but they can't experience ultimate failure because they don't give
up. Why not? Because the price for giving up is too high.
What about you? Where do you fall? Are you one of those who would like to succeed, but only if it is
convenient? Or, maybe, you are one of those who want to succeed and are willing to put some effort into it as
long as there is a payback pretty soon. Or, are you one of those who is determined to succeed and willing to
work until it happens? Only you can make that determination.