Self motivation is a fickle flower. Some people seem innately driven into action. Others flounder flitting from thing to thing. Starting and stopping looking for the map. But as Seth Godin has written, there is no map.
A few weeks ago CASUDI engaged in a conversation about self motivation and inspired me to think a little deeper. I’m fascinated by how people end up in their respective careers – some by happenstance and others because they followed their muse. Most people though don’t seem to take a proactive approach to their careers. They let the jobs come to them rather than make the effort to design their own. And then they look at those who make it and consider them lucky. As if luck was all it took. Sure it can play a part, but only after one works to put themselves into a position to get lucky. Often failing many times before they got ‘lucky’. But most people don’t see that. They think it can’t be them. They’re not willing to expend the calories it takes to achieve a higher level of being. They let others tell them where to go. What to do.
I consider myself a fairly motivated person, always reading, learning and curious. I love exploring new ideas and pushing my thinking. But I don’t consider myself the picture of driven, self-made success. I just saw Invictus last weekend about Nelson Mandela – talk about self motivation. Jailed for 27 years and keeping his focus, determination and then being able to forgive. ‘I am the master of my own destiny’ is what he told himself. How many of us can find such strength?
I read about people like Gary Hirschberg, Jason Fried, Gert Boyle. Or how about Chris Gardner? When so many others would remain homeless, he wouldn’t accept that and took action. To different degrees, each has a work ethic and persevered in the face of adversity. Some started solving problems for themselves (Jason). Others have a vision (Gary) and others are merely motivated to survive (Gert and Chris). In reading these stories recognize that each is personal and specific to them. While you can glean tips and inspiration, you have to make it your own. Find your own way.
But each had the internal fortitude to keep digging for the answers. And never give up. For me, I’m motivated by the desire to create, help others and achieve financial independence. I’ve certainly made mistakes earlier in my career – failing at commercial photography (but learned the secret to building a million dollar photography business: start with two million).
I also think it comes down to decision making style. Some people are more adept at committing to a direction, cutting through a sea of limitless choices to the idea and process that fits them. That takes discipline. You have to have the confidence in your thinking to make the big decisions and break them down into manageable steps that take you to success. Rarely is it one big leap. Think about the 10,000 hours it takes for mastery.
You might think going to a motivational seminar will do the trick. But it’s like a drug. It lasts in the moment. Long enough for you to spend some cash on their motivational materials only to end up on that shelf in the back of your office. Seminars like Get motivated. If you’re seriously going to get something out of such seminars, you have to do the hard work that comes after the high wears off.
Same goes with all the self-help books. Yes, they provide insight, advice and motivation. But it’s what you do with it that counts. And that takes YOU. Self motivation. No one else can do it for you. You have to want to change.
The best way I’ve seen to be motivated is to not be too comfortable. You have to want change so bad because if not, you’ll keep doing what you’re always doing. Change causes physical pain in the brain and only through consistent focus can you internalize that change and make it stick. To transfer that new way of being to the part of your brain where it’s internalize. Like you did when you learned to drive.
So to get motivated and sustain it, you need to want it. You need to find and set direction rather than swing for the latest fad. You need a process with rituals that take you step by step to where you want to go. You need to make it past the Dip. You need to look into the drop off and be able to make the leap across. Which takes a little faith and willingness to step out of your comfort zone.
In short, it takes you. And you alone. It helps to surround yourself with others who aspire to better themselves rather than those content with punching a clock. And that means you need to be aware of who you spend your time with and seek out people that push you rather than drag you down.
Most people are inherently lazy and not hungry. They don’t take action. But you’re different right? How do you get motivated and sustain it? Where do you find your inner strength. That’s something I’ll be exploring both to understand what really motivates me and how I can better push myself.