How to Motivate Yourself: Part 3

In the first two articles in the “How to Motivate Yourself” series, I challenged readers to consider what the purpose of their life is and the need for self-motivation to meet your goals. I then discussed the first 9 of 13 strategies for self-motivation.

10) Enjoy the journey

Yes, I know that sounds corny. I can visualize a review glomming onto this idea as an example of tried and trite. So be it. The reality is—and this comes from personal experience—we often become so immersed in the journey that we don’t actually enjoy it.

How stupid would it be if you consciously said, “I’m going on vacation, but I have not intention of enjoying myself?” Yet that is exactly what happens when a leader become too busy to take time to appreciate the process.

How do you accomplish this? Pause to be grateful. Gratefulness creates a great fullness of heart. A positive attitude is a wonderful thing, but I believe gratefulness is the ultimate antidote to negativity.

Take time to enjoy the little pleasures in life and not just the significant life events.

11) Clarify your values

Roy Disney said when values are clear, decision making is easy. I can’t think of anything as important to success as a leader than truly knowing what is important to you, which means having boundaries defined by values.

It is this consistency of the inner and outer life that enables a leader to live from the inside out.

12) Live like a victor of circumstance

Bad stuff happens to good people. This is inevitable. Yet it is easy to spend too much time as a victim, trying to figure out why the bad stuff happened, than to respond as victors with a resilience that says, “This is bad. So what am I going to do to make it better?”

The choice is simple: learn from the situation or languish in it. The next time you encounter a problem, remember: This is a test. What is the lesson?

13) Search for the Pony

An old and familiar joke illustrates perfectly the attitude of the leader who takes responsibility for his or her life, even those circumstances they don’t completely control.

Twin boys were born to two happy parents, but as the children developed, the parents noticed the dramatic outlook each had on life.

One little boy was completely negative. His perspective was consistently one of gloom and doom. No matter what happened, the little boy was downhearted. He was able to find a rain cloud in the sunniest sky.

The other boy was buoyant, and looked at everything positively. No matter what happened, this child could literally find the silver lining in the darkest rain cloud.

The parents began to worry that each child had a problem. One Christmas they attempted a bold experiment to change the twins’ disposition.

For the negative boy, they bought the most wonderful gifts: a new bike, a train set, board games and other fun diversions.

For the positive boy, they gave a pile of horse manure and nothing more.

When Christmas morning came, the negative boy was led into a room containing all his wonderful gifts. His negative response was predictable: “The bike will become dirty and scratched the first time I ride it and the other toys will break or wear out.”

Then they brought in their other son who, upon seeing the pile of manure meant for him, instantly shouted in glee and shocked his parents by jumping into the manure and digging frantically.

“What are you doing?” They exclaimed.

He replied, “With all this manure there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

Both boys had an extreme and—joke aside—unrealistic view of life. But the positive boy’s response makes a valid point. When something happens the challenge is to search for the pony.

If you want to stay motivated, and to help provide positive encouragement and motivation for others, make sure that you have an ongoing program of personal professional development and renewal.


Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker and the author of the bestselling books, The Fred Factor: How Passion In Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary, You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader: How Anyone Anywhere Can Make a Positive Difference and The Encore Effect: How to Achieve Remarkable Performance in AnythingYou Do. His book Up, Down or Sidewa...

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