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Motivation and Leadership, Part 1

By Randy Hall

Leadership is often about helping others stay at their best, move toward a new goal, or learn and grow as they continue to improve and succeed. Our job, many times, is about the motivation of others.

Learn more about motivating others in our podcast, Episode 29: The 4 Must-Haves of Motivation.

But leaders are people too and sometimes we need our own motivation as well. 

What happens if we aren’t working with one of those rare leaders that can help us find our own motivation? Somehow, we still have to find a way to motivate ourselves so that we can be there for the rest of the team. And if that is not something that someone is doing for us, then we will need to do it for ourselves.

The good news is that, because we are human, motivation is a simple set of things for us. That doesn’t make them easy things, but they are simple and we can do them for ourselves.

We need to want something to move toward it.

That means we must create want for ourselves in order to move in the direction of anything. In its simplest form, we experience want every day. We may want another cup of coffee, or want to go out with friends, or want to get the car washed. Want is easier for things we have done hundreds of times because we know exactly what it feels like to have those things or do those things. When we are motivating ourselves toward things we haven’t done yet or things we don't “feel” like doing it can be much more difficult.

The key though lies in our ability to imagine the end result. This is really just goal clarity. But spending a few minutes each day imagining, clarifying, crystalizing what our life is like if we write that book, or take that class, or get that promotion, or start that business, or finish that project; The more focus and detail we put around it, the better off we are. Really focus on the thing we want and then focus on the why associated with it. Answer these questions as you explore. Will my day, my week, or my life be better if I do this thing? How will it be better? Why does that matter? What will I enjoy more, be happier about, or be able to experience if I do this thing? Spend time here to create genuine want for yourself, and make sure you imagine the smallest of details around what’s better for you and why.

We can actually build a habit around creating want by doing it every day. We can review our day, imagine it being done well, and imagine the things that happen to us because we do it well. Our brain can’t tell that it’s not real, and imagining it gives us another one of those repetitions that move the newer thing into that same category of things we know enough about to make want for those things easier. 

Yes, want happens to us automatically sometimes, but sometimes we can make it happen for us as well.

We have to know how.

Even when we want something, we can run into roadblocks that keep us from actually taking action to go get or do the thing we want. Not knowing how can stop us in our tracks. If we don’t know how to write a book, or get that promotion, or start that business, or finish that project, we are dead in the water. 

One way to help ourselves here is just to focus on the very next step. Of course, I don’t know all the details of starting a business, but can I do one thing that helps me learn how or moves me in that direction? Maybe I can talk to a friend who started one or do some research on the process. Once I think of a step I can take, then I need to do the “want’ exercise for the step. What might be better if I talk to that friend? What might I learn by doing that? Why will that matter or be important for me? Now add the “know how” exercise to it by answering these questions: What step can I take to make that happen? What can I do right now to make that next step happen? What can I also schedule that will help me make more progress on that step or get it completed? Now the brain is building a mental map for HOW to do what we WANT to do. We are now knee-deep in creating motivation to move in the right direction with a plan for something we care about.

Work on these two steps and in our next post we will cover the next two steps in the motivation process, and how to make sure that we can build motivation for ourselves using a set of repeatable activities that consistently move us toward our goals. 

Leaders can teach this process and use it for ourselves as well, and that makes us better leaders. 

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