Motivation, in my opinion, is one of the most misunderstood determiners of behavior in our lives. We find ourselves on the roller coaster of life, thinking we need encouragement from outside sources to give us “motivation” for success. Yet, do we really need someone to push us towards a high, leaving us falling into another low? This can leave us with feelings of discouragement. Maybe we just need to understand what motivation really is and how to use its power.
We all have attended seminars where the goal of the performer was to show us the light, give us the tools for success. We sat with our friends and listened to the speaker’s ideas on how to overcome fear, realize who we really are, or do what is needed to achieve greatness. Our subconscious minds portrayed images of us being kings for a day or as gorillas, beating our chests with feelings of “I will do it.” We took copious notes, thinking, “I will forget this and will need to review it later to keep this feeling.” No one who was paying attention left the room thinking anything of themselves other than that they could accomplish whatever they wanted in life. We were “motivated”! Then what happens? We fall back into life as usual and perhaps wonder how do the motivated keep motivated.
How about when we attend the funeral service of a friend or loved one? We often sit in the congregation amazed at how the life of this person was so blessed and how they had accomplished so much. We think of how we can improve our lives so that some day someone can say the same about us. We leave “motivated” to not let life pass us by. Our minds are filled with a deep and sincere need to accomplish. Then what happens? We fall back into life as usual and perhaps wonder how do the motivated keep motivated.
My dear brother-in-law, as a young man, lost his father to an aggressive cancer. He knew that this disease would be something he would need to watch for in his life. My sister, a nurse, would see to it that he was checked regularly. In one of these regular checkups, Hugh learned he had contracted the same disease. His news, “Hugh, you have prostrate cancer,” as you can imagine, was devastating to all who know Hugh. There were times we collectively thought there may not be anything that can be done. What then? In family gatherings we would talk about the great man Hugh is, and that he would make it through this trial. When a loved one who is close to you has the scare of a life threatening disease, you begin to evaluate your own life as well. You find yourself realizing how fragile life is; you want to accomplish more. You don’t want to leave this life with your music still inside of you, or not having made a difference. You default to things you can improve on and are “motivated” to accomplish unfinished tasks. Then what happens? We fall back into life as usual and perhaps wonder how do the motivated keep motivated.
So why do we misunderstand motivation? For me it is simple: When we experience motivating times in life, they take us from being ourselves to thinking of the end result. We go from being Average Joe to Superman without the necessary steps in between. Our minds don’t naturally fill in the path to success with daily minor achievements. To accomplish absolutely anything we want to in life, we must go step by step. In seminars they tell us how we can be that person we dream of being and leave us thinking we are. Then we soon realize we are still ourselves and forget the feelings we had just experienced. The default is “I am who I am.” The thought leaves our subconscious, thinking it is a monumental leap of faith to even try. Everyone (including those who have achieved) would get discouraged with these thoughts as the most successful among us have not grown at that pace.
What if we really understood motivation, and with this understanding we could be anything we want to be? We can; we just need to understand. Realize that anyone in our world who you consider a superstar is just as you are, a person who puts their pants on one leg at a time. Oddly enough there are traits you have, they wish they had; and they may hope to be as you are in many respects. We just don’t recognize it. Now, realize the person in your world who you consider a superstar is achieving what they are because they work at it. They did not fall into stardom instantly; instead, these stars are days, weeks, months, or maybe years ahead of you only because they have already begun their voyage. Then realize “motivation” is simply taking one step at a time and not giving up. You don’t need to go from the ground floor to the top of the building in one step; no one can! Take one step at a time and be motivated to keep climbing. Don’t expect a rocket blast taking you past critical steps. These steps give us sustainability and experience to stay on top after we get to our desired outcome. Without these gradual steps, our success, if we got there, would only be temporary.
Life is growing–line upon line–and making sure we stay on track. If we get down, use motivation to get back. When we find our passion and are motivated to stick with it, we will accomplish over time anything we hope for. Use times in your life where you feel inspired to keep you going. Don’t become discouraged with lack of overnight accomplishment; instead, remember: step by step, line upon line, one day at a time. Motivation is knowing you are learning, growing, and succeeding toward your desired outcome while sustaining positive momentum.