How Misguided Motivation Can Prevent You from Achieving Excellence
Written on 4/08/2008 by Kevin Geary, author of Change Your Tree.
I’m a martial arts studio owner and instructor by trade. My profession allows me to teach and interact with all ages, races, religions, and both sexes. Even though all of these people are completely different, they share the same common goal; earning their black belt.
On another level, as a business owner, I get to network with many other business owners. Again, though all of these people are different and trying to make a living in different industries, many of them share the same common goal; more sales.
For school children it’s grades, for employees it’s a raise, for television it’s ratings, and the list goes on. While all of these people are motivated, only a small percentage of them succeed to the level of excellence (or at all). Why? They are plagued with having the wrong type of motivation. Their motivation, in fact, is preventing them from truly achieving. For some, the motivation can actually cause them to fail.
Children in the martial arts really get wrapped up in the belt system. Everything they do is about getting that next belt. Of course, that’s why the belt system was invented. But I always challenge my students with the idea that motivation should be based only on self-improvement, not on things or ideas.
I ask my students the following question; “What would you do if we stopped awarding belts? Would you still come to class?” In other words, “what’s your motivation for doing this?” I think this is a question we should all ask ourselves in regards to many different things we do in our lives.
My best students don’t care about belts. Instead of being motivated by things or ideas, they’re simply motivated by their desire to be better. They want to be faster, they want to be stronger, and they want to be smarter. Their motivation is based on self.
When you are motivated by things, ideas, the future, or other goals, your success is dependent on those things. If students don’t get belts every so often, they drop out. If children don’t get good grades, they get discouraged, and if employees don’t get a raise they get angry or resentful.
The true reason for these people’s failures is misguided motivation. If you are motivated by a desire to improve yourself or to help others, you will achieve. It’s that simple. Martial arts students who strive to better themselves always reach black belt because their motivation is real. Business owners who strive to better themselves and their business make more sales because their motivation is real. School children who want to learn for the sake of gaining knowledge get good grades because their motivation is real.
Whenever you have a goal, ask yourself what your motivation to achieve that goal is based on. Are you motivated by some reward? Does your motivation rely on someone else? Are you motivated by anything other than a desire for self-improvement or to help others? That’s the million dollar question.
The only real motivation in life comes from the desire we just discussed. All other motivation is simply an illusion, and a dangerous illusion at that.
Let’s think for a minute about self-based motivation vs. object-based motivation. If you are motivated by a desire to improve yourself, you will always be accomplishing—it will be an ongoing process. On the other hand, if you are motivated by a single reward, thing, idea, etc. you may achieve that thing, but unknowingly forsake all others in the process, including yourself. We see this in people who do the minimum required to be rewarded.
Those who are motivated by a desire to improve themselves never accept the minimum because that directly translates to being the minimum. Those who are motivated by objects or ideas can afford to do the minimum because they are happy as long as they meet whatever goal they set out for, regardless of how real that achievement is. This is simply one example, one consequence of misguided motivation.
In the last paragraph I made a statement that many of you probably read over without realizing its depth. I said, “…you may achieve that thing, but unknowingly forsake all others in the process, including yourself.” That’s powerful. What do I mean by “forsaking all others, including yourself?” If you are motivated by something other than a desire to improve yourself or to help others, you may still achieve, but at what cost?
If my goal in business is to increase sales, I can do that in many different ways. I can spend more on marketing, I can gain publicity, or I can scam people. I can increase sales both morally and immorally. I can increase sales while destroying myself in the process. That is the power of misguided motivation.
If instead, I’m motivated simply by a desire to serve my customers and be the best businessman I can be, I will always reach my goals and do so in a healthy manner.
If you want to achieve excellence in everything you do, take a deep look at what motivates you and make sure your motivation is centered only on your desire to improve yourself or to help others; that’s the key to excellence.
"The greater danger for most of us is not that
our aim is too high and we miss it, but
that it is too low and we reach it."
"If one advances confidently in the direction of
his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he
has imagined, he will meet with a success
unexpected in common hours."
- H.D. Thoreau
"The indispensable first step to getting the
things you want out of life is this:
decide what you want."
- Ben Stein
How to Celebrate March Forth on March 4th
March 4th is the only day of the year that is also a command! You can use this day to celebrate your achievements and set new goals. Here's how.
Have everyone who would like to participate make a list of goals to achieve by March 4th of the following year.
Establish a prize to be given to the person who does the best at achieving their goals. You can try spray painting one of your old boots gold, then have everyone who is going to participate contribute a dollar to go into the boot trophy. You can also just fill the boot with booze, but be careful that the boot is clean. The first year you will have the party, but no prize, as no one will have achieved their goals yet.
Play inspirational music, such as "I Believe I Can Fly", "Hero" by Mariah Carey, etc. Some people play marching music. Choose whichever songs float your boat.
Choose your food based on a marching theme, such as trail mix, shoestring potatoes, "lettuce march" salad, rocky road, etc.
Set up a boot camp obstacle course, potato sack races, or a relay to offer some fun activities for your guests.
Get a sheet, have everyone stand on it and get their feet traced, then have everyone pitch in and paint the footprints. This makes a great table cloth and can even serve as another trophy for the winner.
It's probably best to start out with your immediate family before adding anyone else in. It is harder for the people who live with you to ditch you. After your extended family sees how cool it is they may be more willing to commit.
Your kids may want to dress as soldiers.
"Onward Christian Soldiers" might be a good tune for Christians throwing this party.
If you don't think someone will be able to find the trophy again after they've had it for a year, it is probably best not to invite them, but if you have to it is probably best to just offer the winner a gift certificate or the money and keep the trophy at your house until next year's party. This rule will then have to be applied to everyone to keep it fair.
How to Go for Your Dreams
Everybody has dreams, even if they're buried deep inside childhood fantasies. Here's how to find them and make them come true.
Get in touch with your dreams. What do you fantasize about doing with your spare time? What extraordinary future makes you feel a little bit more alive when you imagine yourself in it? What did you dream about when you were a child? ...And write it all down.
Identify mental obstacles that stand in the way of your dreams. For example, maybe you've always dreamed about becoming a painter, but you were too worried about what people think, or about not making enough money. In this case, your obstacles are ego and finances.
Ask yourself honestly:
What's more important, achieving my dreams, or getting respect from my peers, or being financially secure? If I had to choose between my dreams and my other concerns, what would I choose?
Make changes in your life. If you're not already working towards your dreams, you're probably trapped in a cycle that keeps you locked away from them. Break the cycle. For a lot of people, that means changing careers. (Read How to Switch Careers.)
Set clear, inspiring goals.
Goals are like pillars that support your dreams.
Discovering your dreams is an ongoing process. Often, as you try to make your dreams a reality, you learn more about what you want. For example, you might have dreamed about becoming a vet, but in the middle of vet school, you may realize that your dreams involve training animals rather than treating them.
Don't be scared to adjust your course as you learn more about yourself and what you want out of life.
Believe in yourself
Don't lose focus if something that appears better comes along.
How to Improve Your Outlook on Life
Life's a drag, is it? Here are some helpful tips on how to take control with life, home, school, etc.
Don't accept disrespectful treatment. Sometimes, those who aren't feeling too chipper will notice that you seem beaten down, and will opportunistically pick at you. Ask them to stop, politely, but still keeping the mood light.
If they continue, say, "I asked you not to do that any more. Please stop." If they still continue, you will need to stand up to them, and say something like, "All right that's enough. I asked you to stop. Stop that right now, it's not funny." Usually, this approach is sufficient and results in slightly defensive responses. Don't drag it out, so when they stop, you stop, too.
If there are affiliation fights, don't get involved. Getting involved in a gang battle isn't going to help your life turn around.
If you have a bad relationship, do your best to recognize that that person has their own problems, and don't make those problems yours. If your relationship with the person is so fractious that it's hard to simply co-exist peacefully, look forward to a time when you can avoid the person (like when you reach the legal adult age). In the meantime, fly under the radar, keep yourself to activities that nobody will object to, and bide your time.
If you find you're being dismissed by teachers and/or bullied at school, begin behaving in a manner that commands better treatment. If a teacher is dismissive or indifferent to you, examine if your negative attitude shows in class. If so, put forth a more positive energy. Greet the teacher when entering the classroom, it doesn't need to be big. Just a wave of respect and a little eye contact is enough.
With peers who bully you, the above effort may net you big gains. Get them to see you as a person, a human being, by interacting with them.
Be nice! Sometimes it's hard to feel vivacious, but remember that attitude has a lot to do with how you feel. Muster as much good will possible when interacting with others, even if you have to "fake it until you make it," just for the sake of getting yourself into a better situation.
Improve your speaking skills, articulate your ideas and opinions, and keep with the flow. An easy, relaxed way of expressing yourself to your peers or teachers will result in others giving you another chance.
Keep your self-esteem high. If it is low, do something to improve it. You don't just get handed self-esteem, you earn it.
Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a religious center, or get involved in charity work or with a children's hospital. There's nothing like doing something positive to help others that are less fortunate to show you that you matter, after all.
Tips: Get yourself into shape physically. Build strength and stamina by going to the gym, Tae Kwon Do, etc. If this doesn't help at all, then you may be depressed.
If you think you might be depressed, talk to a counselor or physician for appropriate treatment. Don't suffer endlessly - there are a range of options, from group therapy to pharmaceutical products that provide relief.
Consider involvement in a religious group. If your own religious group doesn't touch you in some meaningful way - find another center. Ask a friend you respect if they go to a religious center, and consider going along (assuming you're of the same faith). Finding a faith you can depend on can truly help in times as difficult as you are probably going through now.
Be careful not to pick fights with those treating you poorly. Either avoid them or step up and deal with them calmly, as much like a mature adult as possible.
If stress is so crushing that you cannot deal, call a help line, and don't hurt yourself or anyone else. There are many available through religious centers and community outreaches.
If you are a victim of domestic or sexual abuse, Get help! Nobody has the right to abuse you, but you have to find the courage to speak out.
Suicide is never the answer.
Things You'll Need:
The will to change your life
The willingness to communicate calmly
Hope for the future to be better
How to Feel Confident
You might have already read and learned how to be confident, but what if you still don't feel all that confident? Sometimes it takes your emotions a little bit of time to catch up with your thoughts, but here's how to help the process along.
Take a public speaking course. You might dread getting up in front of people, but there's no better way to jump start your confident feelings than by assuring yourself that you've got something to say, and people are listening.
Change up your look. Whether you're male or female, getting a new outfit and haircut can make you feel fresh, cool and confident.
Pretend that you are already confident. If you've ever wanted to be an actor, use that motivation now. You may know you're capable and competent, yet you may feel rather insecure, but by pretending that you're already confident, you might be able to convince yourself. Ask yourself, what would the confident me do? How would they walk? How would they speak? Practice!
Find some affirmations that will help you and repeat them often to yourself.
Affirmations are very powerful and need to be spoken as though they have already happened. Say to yourself "I am a very confident person", "There is nothing I cannot do if I put my mind to it".
Visualize yourself being congratulated on something you dream to achieve, imagine the person shaking your hand and saying well done. Hold a picture of you being successful.
Every evening, just before you go to bed, think to yourself at least ten times, 'I am a confident man/woman'. This leaves a positive frame of mind inside yourself and will make you feel more confident the next day.
Smile and relax; there's nothing that needs to be worried about.
Don't feel that the audience is expecting a lot from you.
Assume yourself equal to anyone in the audience.
Volunteer important works in your organization, this is how you can earn people's respect.
ALWAYS be honest and believe in yourself. If you don't no one else will.
Don't underestimate yourself just because you're younger or smaller.
If anybody puts you down or makes fun of you, think it through and how silly the comment is. Make it feel like it's a joke and you won't take the comment seriously.
How to Convince Yourself That You Can Do Something or Time for a little self-motivation!
Let's get started.
Imagine yourself doing what it is you want to do. Dream of the possibilities. What wonderful outcomes could result from your action?
Tell yourself what you want to hear. If you want to try out for America's Next Top Model, look in the mirror and tell yourself everything that's beautiful about yourself. If you are about to participate in a math competition, tell yourself how smart you are.
Think incessantly about it. Never give yourself a break until the curiosity almost sends you in the way of the cat. You will NEVER find out what could have happened if you don't just get off your E-Z Chair and face the world like a man. (Or woman.)
Look good. Even if you just want to draw a rather difficult scene in the confines of your home, brush your hair, take a shower, get dressed up if you want. When you look your best, you feel your best. (This is not optional for social situations.)
Listen to energizing or uplifting music. Set the mood for the daring deed you are about to accomplish.
If its something physical, right before you do it, let all of your stress and anger loose. Your strength will at least double. Also, if you allow yourself to enter an enraged state, it will unearth unbelievable strength, speed, and endurance. You wont even feel pain.
Tips: Don't over-think it. You may talk yourself out of doing the best thing you've ever done!
How to Start Over Again
Starting over again, whether if is a result of a divorce, or death of a spouse, or the loss of a job after many long years, can be painful to experience.
Starting again, has caused many a hardship, anxiety, separation or depression. We all, at one time or another, have had to pick ourselves up and start again, even the cause was injury that resulted in changing sports. Once finally accept these changes as a part of life can we once again move forward.
Accept the fact that changes have to be made in your life.
Recognize what caused the changes. If it is a marital problem, where did the problem start? Could it have been avoided, or can you recognize it and make changes so that it does not happen again.
Read self-help books. Learn about relationships and find information that applies to your situation.
Admit that you have lost your job, and sit down and think about what other type of work you may be eligible for or been trained in. If you cannot find a job, then learn a trade. Take a night course, an aptitude test, or think about what you always wanted to do, but never had the chance. Change can be inspirational!
Teach a sport, or become a coach if a sports injury keeps you from participating.
Think about a spouse who dies, but do not remember them as having been the 'best', or the 'greatest' person in your life, unless he or she actually was. Too often, the remaining spouse forgets the faults of the one who died and tends to create a saint when in actuality the other person was a 'pain' at times. Remember the good, but also recall the not so good, so that you can go on with your life.
Meet others. Attend socials. Do not feel guilt if you ask another to dance. Get on with your life and be happy again.
Divorce can be difficult and can fill you with guilt or you blame the other. Attend help groups, read books, talk to others, but do not carry the pain or the question of whose fault it is within you forever. If you feel you can reconcile, then go for it! But think first, would the second time around be better than the first?.
Never say, "I should have done things differently," or "if only I had taken them to the doctor sooner." Blame can be like poison in the body. Accept what has happened and go on with your life because you really cannot change a thing.
Finding a new job, or a new sport can be the start of a new life. You may find that it will be the best thing that has happened to you, something you have always wanted to do, but never had the nerve to change.
Rearrange the furniture. Sometimes the memories of a room or a house can be hard to shake. Take an afternoon and rearrange the furniture, pictures, etc. It will start feeling new and fresh and the memories of your new place will be all yours.
Spend time with people that make you feel good and make you feel positive. You may find that old friends are bringing you down. Change the patterns and surround yourself with people who make you feel better or encourage your self improvement. Sometimes the best way to start over is to cut out the negatives.
How to Stay Positive when You Know Your Life Sucks
Thinking negative? Here are some strategies for how to start thinking positively and accomplish what you want in life.
Look on the inside. What are some qualities you have that you like about yourself? Are you funny? Are you intelligent? Are you sincere?
Are you generous? What do you have pride in? Try focusing on the positive things in your life. You may be making huge influences to others even when you think you're useless.
Prove those negative thoughts wrong. When you find yourself in a bad mood, you could think of the negative things such as, "I'm dumb and annoying", "I'm better off dead", "I'm ugly, I wish I looked different", etc. Even though it's not true. Change your mind. Look for your good features, think about the ones that you know love you, look on your greater side. Realize that nobody's life is easy and that there will always be ups and downs, and moments of low self esteem. Don't automatically assume that nobody cares. Every person matters to someone. You're alive for a reason.
Appreciate what you see. Look in the mirror. Find some beautiful things about yourself.... Do you have nice skin? nice nails? beautiful eyes? full lips?
Find stuff that appeals to you. When you can't change something, change your attitude towards it!
Determine why your life sucks. What can you do to make your life better? What do you desire to do? How do you want to feel? Make a few reachable goals and your own strategies. The first step is usually the hardest - getting help or admitting you need it.
Getting motivated. What motivates you? What gives you energy to go on everyday? Music? Love? Family? A 1km run? Yahweh, Allah, Buddha? Your attitude? Your pet? Friends? School? Boost your confidence and determination by encouraging yourself into thinking positive.
Remember that some things can pass with time. There will be a tomorrow. There will be a next week. There will be a next month and perhaps by then, things will change. Everything is going to be okay when you think it's going to be all right. You are in control of your life and though it might get worse, it'll get better eventually. It's temporary and it will change much sooner than you think.
Think about happy memories. Whenever you feel like the future is 'hopeless', think about vivid memories. It will help make you feel better and that in the future, there will be good things, too. Happiness would not exist without sadness - it's like the yin and yang. They just don't exist without each other. Think about all the things you want to experience, feel, achieve. There will be many great moments in your life - don't let a few obstacles get in the way.
Don't stop yourself from feeling the joy. It's okay to step back once in awhile and just enjoy the moment. Even in tough situations - it's important to smile and laugh here and there. Don't restrict yourself from doing things you love just because you think you'll be criticized to do. Don't just leave memories behind, but don't try to live in the past, either. Let yourself enjoy life even if you're not at the best place you could be. You only live once - make the best of it.
Develop a gratitude journal. It's pretty simple. At the end of every day, write down five things that have made you happy or appreciative that day -- not necessarily big things, even small ones count. For example: nice weather, being praised by my boss for getting an urgent errand done, my playful dog, kids and hubby kissing me goodbye before they went to school/work, a hilarious joke a mate shared, etc.
If you feel persistently sad, unmotivated, anxious, hopeless or fearful, seek professional help. You may be suffering from a mood disorder such as clinical depression.
To "go for it," simply get up and do it. There is a small voice inside saying "Get up!", and you need to do what it says; just dive in! Turn off the computer, turn off the TV, and get going!
When you think positively, your whole views change about the world and you tend to look on the better, clearer side.
Talk to others about how you are feeling. This will help you to feel less alone.
If you feel something is lacking in your life, listen to your instincts and make the best out of it that you can. If you feel that you're not generous enough and that there's not enough harmony in your life, give something to your enemy that you think they would like or so. Giving anonymously is the best.
Sniff a flower. Dance a little. Go outside and enjoy the fresh air, if and when you can.
Find someone who has it worse than you .... or even just someone who is having a really tough time and try to make their life better. Solving problems for others will help you find ways to solve your own. Doing something nice for someone else without needing recognition helps.
Get a pet, preferably a dog/cat. You'll be giving love to another soul and getting it in return.
Give love, smile more often.
Remember to be completely honest with yourself. The rest will follow.
Whenever you hear yourself thinking a negative comment about yourself instantly replace it with a positive one.
If someone says something negative about you, say to yourself "I refuse to accept that" and forget about it, don't give it a second thought. Replace it with something positive about yourself. Look at them for a moment and realize that they may be going through a rough time themselves and that these things come from insecurity. Show them love and move on. They probably don't mean it to direct at you but themselves. It's called self criticism, some people don't even realize they do such things.
Don't blame yourself when you clearly haven't done anything wrong.
Nobody is perfect, so don't go over the edge by setting unreachable goals.
Don't make the mistake of standing still rather than giving it a try.
Don't get lost in self-pity. Remember you have the ability to change your outlook and your situation.
Resist the urge to act out moods on those around you. Instead, write, confide in a friend, draw, take a walk, etc. Do something creative or physically active, something you feel comfortable doing and that others don't have the right to criticize.
Consult someone if you start having suicidal thoughts. Don't keep it inside and remember that you can get out of this.
Don't set too high of expectations for yourself. When you fail, you are likely going to blame it all on yourself even when it's not necessary. Be a friend of your own.
How to Recreate Your Life
Have you recently come to the abrupt realization that your life isn't anything close to what you wanted it to be? Whether it's spurred by a mid-life crisis, a near-death experience, a psychedelic epiphany, or a painful separation, here's how to change the direction that your life is heading.
Remember what you've always wanted. What did you dream about being and doing when you were a child? Or an invincible teenager? Or an idealistic college student? At many points in our lives, when we encounter obstacles, we tend to settle. What have you settled for? What did you give up on when you settled?
Be honest with yourself. Pretending that your life is great when it's really not is only going to make things worse. Sure, you've got plenty to be grateful for, but there's nothing wrong with seeking more growth and fulfillment. Don't ever feel that by wanting more, you're forsaking what you already have.
Write down your goals. Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? What do you want to accomplish before you die? Make lists and timelines. Keep them close to you, and read them every day, preferably when you wake up.
Consider making a big change. Switch careers, move to a different area, or end a relationship that's bringing you down. Stop your life from becoming one big routine.
Expand your comfort zone. Do something that's completely out of character. Shave your head, wear a miniskirt, try karaoke, do a cartwheel barefoot on the grass, etc. Be spontaneous and daring. Even if it has nothing to do with your goals, stepping out of your comfort zone will help you get used to facing your fears, especially people's reactions when you do something they'd never expect you to do.
Remember that it is your life to live and so you should choose what is best for you.
The key is to stay focused on your dreams, no matter how far you may be from accomplishing them. If you don't remember what you want out of life, it's awfully easy to lose your way.
Focus on what matters the most to you and pursue it unmistakably to the point of being able to grasp only a moment.
It is better to have experienced than not to.
Don't ever think "It's too late," or "I'm too old." It's never too late, and you can never be too old to find happiness.
Visualize yourself as being the way you want to be. See yourself being congratulated, or hugged for what you have done.
Visualization is very powerful and if done often,it will work.
Don't hang out with people that bring you down no matter how close to you they are (family, old friends, etc).