15 Years of (Motion) Learning

On 1st July 2004 we set up a website and opened our doors for business. We’d had one good lead, producing one great contract, and we perhaps idealistically hoped that this would be the dawning of a wonderful new era for us. We weren’t completely unaware that to make a success of a business would take lots of energy, time and some good ideas, but to paraphrase, we certainly “didn’t know what we didn’t know”.

The subsequent 15 years have been a continuous learning journey, much of it ‘on the job’, much from trusted supporters and advisors, and occasionally with some formal elements thrown in.  At times it’s been really hard, at others wonderfully exciting, very occasionally it’s almost been predictable, but it’s never mundane.  And every step of the way has provided us with invaluable lessons.

Purpose is everything – it gets you through the good times and the bad.  We found that we were able to work super hard because we were so clear about the purpose behind what we were doing.  For us it wasn’t about getting rich, although we still wouldn’t complain if that were to happen.  It was and still is about doing work that adds real value, in a way that satisfies us, because we see the success of others.  It might be tempting fate to say it, but we definitely struggle with the thought of being employed again.  Even at the end of 2008, when our business along with every other was feeling the effects of the recession.  Our thoughts around purpose are simple; whatever that defining purpose might be for you, once you’ve found it, it’s the keystone to everything you do.  

Never wait for the ‘perfect time’ to do something – there won’t ever be one. There’s always going to be a concern or a doubt, a moment when suddenly the stars aren’t quite so well aligned, but you’ve just got to go for it anyway.  Over the years we’ve made big decisions – moving into Percy Street, moving out of Percy Street, committing significant sums to our own development, taking on associates – without any guarantees that the decision will pay off. Not all have, but we’ve not regretted any of them.

Saying no is scary – but sometimes necessary.  Whether it’s to an enthusiastic client, a struggling coachee, or a moody business partner (!) there are times when the answer has to be no…  We can both be guilty of a tendency to want to please, to avoid conflict, to always be willing to try and squeeze another thing in, but we’ve had to learn over the last 15 years that spreading yourself too thinly starts by affecting you, and can, if you’re not careful, impact others.  We’ve understood the importance of partnership in these situations, with one person being the necessary brake on the other’s enthusiasms or sense of obligation.  We’ve come to recognise the absolute need to be kind to and take care of yourself. If you are going to build a business around caring for others you have to be strong and healthy to your core. 

Building a legacy takes time – but it’s worth the effort.  We were never expecting a quick win, quick money situation when we set up Motion. We’ve always known our work is about developing skills and expertise and building relationships.  15 years later, we’re only now beginning to feel a sense of certainty.  It takes years to feel like you are successful. Success doesn’t just happen with one contract, a few big wins. It’s what the slow incremental steps that each knock back and then win creates in the core of your business that matters. It forms the soul and the culture.  Along the way we’ve had to learn to be vulnerable, and develop an acceptance of failure.  There’s a perfectionist streak in both of us, which has driven us on, but sometimes also not allowed us to acknowledge our own successes.

People matter – a lot.  The support we’ve gained from our family, friends, associates and contacts along the way has been invaluable, literally.  We have been lucky enough to be able to focus, for the most part, on what we’re good at and getting better at, and find others to help us with the things in which we’re not experts.  Sometimes pride and independent spirit has made that difficult, but we’ve learnt to allow others to support us.  In the process we’ve recognised the value of working with people who don’t think the same way as us, opening our minds to different perspectives, trying to listen even when we don’t like what we hear, and aiming to learn from everyone, because everyone has something of value to share.

We’re still on our journey, ahead of some, behind others. We’re hoping the best is yet to come, but we’ve loved every minute, even the ones we’ve hated.  We know we have a lot more to learn, and look forward to that more than anything, but if you think you might benefit from the knowledge, experience and expertise we acquired so far, please do get in touch.

And we’d be delighted to hear about your journeys, or your thoughts on ours, so do leave a comment.