I wanted to write about how to motivate yourself…. but I just couldn’t get motivated to write about that.
Not only was I not motivated to write about self-motivation, I wasn’t motivated about much of anything. Have you ever had days or periods of time like that? Things aren’t great and they are bad, either. Life moves along and things get done, but it’s not like YEE-HA! This is great! I’m on a roll!
Some days it feels more like the little engine who could: I think I can… I know I can…chug-a-chug-chug… uphill all the way.
Maybe it’s the economy; maybe it’s the summer heat, winter blahs or pre/post holiday blues… who knows. But I’ve heard lots of people talking about the chug-a-chug-chug, uphill feeling.
Ideas for Motivation
I asked several business people what they do to pick themselves up when they’re not feeling motivated. One toothy Tony Robbins-type flashed his pearly whites and said, “I’m a motivational speaker! I’ve trained myself to be up!”
I ran in the other direction. That was scarier than being unmotivated.
Another person volunteered that blaring Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and prancing around the house in their underwear gets them going. If that approach doesn’t motivate you, if might help the mail carrier.
Most responses were pretty textbook, pretty boring: listen to music; hang out with “up” people; read inspirational books. All good answers but none with real juice.
Except one – and that came from a little kid. When he wants to shake off being sad – he literally shakes it off. He said “I squeeze my butt really tight and hold my arms and legs really tight for as long as I can. Then I jump in the air really loose and yell “Wheeeee!”
I think he listens to Pharrell Williams too.
But this little guy might have a point. We’re already uptight and tense – why not hold it as long as we can, intentionally, and then jump in the air and let it all go! “WHEEEE!”
It seems that we have this idea that we always have to on, be motivated. “Don’t worry, be happy.” And when we’re not, we push against the stream and force ourselves to be positive and optimistic. Secretly, I think we’re all tempted to do the Cher-thing in Moonstruck and slap someone and say, “snap out of it!”
Being a Role Model and True to Yourself
But most of the time, as business leaders, we teeter on and off this uncomfortable imbalance of wanting to be good role models and inspirational to those around us. At the same time, we want to honor ourselves and be honest about our feelings, fears and uncertainties, especially in the not so good times. The question is: How do we do both?
I had a dream a while back that may provide some insight.
I was swimming in a big body of water. And I was swimming in spinach – not cooked spinach, but fresh, leafy spinach. I wanted to swim to a certain destination point, but was getting bogged down swimming through all the spinach leaves. In my dream, I knew I could get to that destination point, but it was just going to take longer than I wanted it to take. And in my dream, I thought, well, as long as it’s going to take a little longer, then try to enjoy where you are right now: the water is clean and clear. The temperatures of the air and water are perfect for swimming. And the water feels good on my skin. Just enjoy all of that. Take your time, relax and enjoy the swim, just the way it is. Don’t fight it.
When I woke up, I thought: That’s my life!
I’d been “swimming in spinach” and was acting like I was in a triathlon. It was a race and I was ignoring the weight and entanglements around me – thinking I could persevere and push through, unscathed, on-time, winning and victorious.
So maybe these experiences weren’t about winning, or demonstrating strength and fortitude and stamina.
Appreciate the Present
Maybe the lesson is more about pacing yourself for the long haul; appreciating the present circumstances for what they are, not what they’re not. It’s like the serenity prayer of changing what you can and accepting the things that you cannot change and knowing the difference.
As business leaders, maybe we could increase our self-motivation by reflecting more about the present and the lessons we are learning, as we encounter them. Next time, rather than pushing against the flow, being tough and having a false bravado, just try “swimming with the spinach”, not against it, and see what happens.
Marty Stanley is a national speaker, author, executive coach and consultant on organizational change. Want help getting motivated or motivating your team? Give Marty a call at 816-695-5453 or firstname.lastname@example.org www.alteringoutcomes.com