Motivational Myths

turn cant into can

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily”

Zig Ziglar

Most good things start with motivation. All good things that stop lack motivation. Yet the greatest myth around motivation is that you either have it or you don’t. In fact, so many of the greatest myths (ie. the most dangerous) are based on the premise that you either have something or you don’t. Like talent. Or skill. Or morals.

As motivation is pretty pointless in short bursts, I want to offer some tips to sustain motivation as it’s partly based on good habits. Too often, I’ve heard people tell me that, when they’re in the mood, they’re super-motivated. Just you stop me then. Really? I wonder, are those the same people that needed to be in the mood to revise for exams? How long did you wait for that mood to come along!?

Motivation is not about doing something you enjoy at a time when you feel in the mood to do it. That’s called recreation. Motivation is about doing something that needs doing when you least feel like doing it. Motivation is sticking at something when it’s not going well. Motivation is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done in order to achieve your aims. If you don’t stick at things, you’re very unlikely to succeed and the reason so few people, relatively speaking, succeed in their working life is that few have sufficient motivation to stick at something well enough for long enough.

At a TED conference several years ago, both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were on stage for Q&As. A member of the audience asked if they believed that you needed to love the thing you do in order to be successful at it. The answer was that whilst love or passion for what you do is not necessarily a pre-requisite for success, it tended to turn out that way because when times get tough, you’re much more likely to stick at it if you have passion and belief that what you’re doing is right. Without it, you’ll give up.

So, if we accept that motivation is needed for success, how do you help yourself and your teams to sustain it? Here are my top 3 tips.

  1. Do it every day

Best captured by Zig Ziglar in the quote above, the biggest problem with motivation is people think it’s a one-hit wonder. Get a motivational speaker in (or appoint yourself that person) and give them all a rocket or an inspirational story or an end-of-year financial target, then watch them fire on all cylinders. Please write to me if you’ve done this and seen success all year long as it would be a world first and I’d like to break that story. A little every day is best.

  1. Don’t rely on yourself

You’re allowed to have help. I’m currently listening (again) to the motivational presentations of Zig Ziglar and I have to tell you that they’re brilliant. And, yes, I follow the advice of point 1 above and listen to him every day on the journey to and from work. Recently, my earphones stopped working and I missed Zig’s voice on the way to work!

  1. Remember the endgame

It absolutely, definitively, undoubtedly, unquestionably will not work (the motivational regime) unless you are clear about why you’re doing the tough things you’re doing. Write it down, have it in front of you every day at work, tell someone else about those aims (a vision shared is a commitment you’re more likely to keep).

As Zig might say, y’all have a happy, successful and motivated end to 2019!