The conditions had to be right.

It wasn’t just one thing. It wasn’t waking up and deciding it. In fact, it was weeks of feeling the pull, until the pull finally moved me to act.

Look, I love to think I’m smart, driven, self-motivated and an all-around kicker-of-ass. Sometimes, I am. But not often enough. Not often enough to fulfill my ambitions. And it took becoming a more public figure to turn that switch on again.

This isn’t to say I’m a public figure in the large sense of a politician or celebrity. My work is public in that I engage with new people I don’t know all the time. My job is to provide guidance, and at the same time, live by example.

So, as I’m getting a new organization off the ground and running up that hill, several other things happened all at once:

  • daylight savings time
  • a highly consequential election
  • a medical exam
  • my job becoming public
  • seeing so many things spark my daughter’s interest

Weird combination? I don’t know. No one gets hopeful when the sun suddenly goes down an hour sooner (and here in Maine that’s 4:16PM with over a month of darkening to go), the election doesn’t go the way you want, and the doctor confirms you’re getting older (science, people).

Maybe I’m lucky, though. I have to act like someone who makes things happen, and show others how to do it, too. Whether for startup teams I serve or my own daughter, that’s my job.

So when it gets darker and things feel hard, that’s when a fluffy feeling of hope is replaced by the need to act. Pressure, time, limited resources– the things I feel as winter sets in– are turning me from the carefree grasshopper into the industrious ant. Is the ant myopic? Missing out? No. The ant is focused on what he can change today and he sets about doing it.

Ants don’t really have a choice. You and I do. Don’t beat yourself up because you aren’t finding the motivation to do all the hard stuff solely from a magical internal ember of smoldering ambition. Sometimes, to make the right choices takes a fair amount of external motivation. Even courage. Find courage in the people around you. Courage to focus on the things you can change, the serenity to accept the things you can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.