This month I read The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau. It wasn’t a business book in the traditional sense, but had some good insights that can guide us both as business owners as well as leaders as we interact with our teams and clients/customers. The book was a look at not only the author’s journey to all countries in the world, but also about the journeys/quests/dreams of other people, and I liked that he talked about both the practical side of things as well as the emotional side of things. Let’s take a look at a few of the lessons in the book.
The idea of belief was discussed throughout the book, first and foremost that the person going through the quest (or the person/people running the business) has to believe in what they’re starting or doing. Second, there will always be people who don’t believe in what you believe in. Finally, everyone needs support. For business owners that’s both people who will buy from them and buy into their mission, and second people who will support them as a person like a family or friends. Neither a quest nor a business can be done completely alone.
Also throughout the book was discussion on who a mission was for/about, what the point was of going on the journey, and what meaning and fulfillment is being created as a result. All good businesses have to have a purpose of some kind. Maybe it’s to create fun or give people the opportunity to buy things they want that definitely aren’t essentials but are things they want or think are cool or are status items. It doesn’t have to be a serious or life-based purpose like a doctor or grocery store owner to have a valid purpose or mission. In fact, your business should have meaning for both you and the people that you sell to and work with.
As I mentioned in the beginning, the book also talked about the importance of embracing the practical. You can’t just waltz into countries, you have to get your passport stamped first and get past customs. The same is true for businesses: you have to have plans and strategies and take action, take time to regularly look into your finances and metrics and data, and most of all have a market that not only wants to buy from you but actually does. As important as the passion and mission are, you have to be able to take a step back from that and focus on the practical details that make the business run if you want to be successful.
Finally, there’s a lesson to be learned from the title of the book, and it’s something that Chris shared about throughout the book, and that’s that some people really find value and life in the pursuit of something. It’s in moving forward, one step, large or small, at a time that we know we’re alive, that we are invigorating to keep moving forward, that we’re able to build new connections and grow current ones. That journey isn’t always a straight line and will change as you and the world change, and the journey should be worth taking. It’s when you’re no longer passionate about that journey or the end destination that you need to revisit things.
What have you been learning lately from your business or trying not to hear or see?