Posts Tagged 'motivation'

Do We Have To or Get To?

Motivation is a tricky thing.

Understanding what pushes us to make a decision or carry out an action is a multi-billion — if not trillion — dollar industry. The line between psychology, advertising and high-level neurophysiology is blurring all the time as a result. Finding the proper mental triggers to pull and correct sequence is the goal of all commercials, everybody acknowledges this on some level.

Moving through life, we gloss over the reasons for our choices a lot — most are so reflexive we hardly even consider them. The way we produce results varies from person to person (and probably task to task), yet I’m confident in any instance the driving force arises from the answer to a simple question:

Is it an obligation or a privilege?

Tuesday night, I contributed to a discussion about the nature of our responsibility to God. A guy in his mid-20s and I both referred to the pressure we feel in living up to that.

“I think of it as an opportunity,” a young woman replied.

I pondered the response intermittently for about 24 hours.

Then, I found an answer. Inspired by the words of a friend, I remembered there are basically two mindsets we can have when approaching anything:

We either “have to” or “get to” — and neither is wrong.

Looking at the phrases, it’s easy to see how opposed they are: the former is weighed down and the latter is unburdened. The implication of desire is almost absent in the first and practically synonymous with the second.

“Have to” is adversarial.

By nature, it lends itself to situations where power comes into play, when one will is matched against another. I recall it used well in sports: we have to keep them from scoring. Athletes understand — even thrive — on it.

However, the statement takes on a life-or-death quality which, when carried over to day-to-day activity, leads to resentment or — in this guy’s case — paralysis. Every situation has heightened importance and making an incorrect choice seems fatal, a recipe for overanalysis and delay.

“Get to” is fortunate.

With a turn of phrase, the effort becomes a mission. The sense of duty is still there, but the tone is different. The stress is gone. And, unlike the other fragment, this can be paired readily with “want to” every single time. It follows, then, passion would accompany the labor–a wonderful development that strengthens commitment.

Either way can be used as a means to the same end.

Some people need to be squeezed.

Others prefer to be unconstrained.

What matters, ultimately, is the assigned purpose being fulfilled.

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Burning Yourself from the Outside

Sometimes people require a kick in the ass.

I have a problem delivering one when the time comes. It is beyond me to comprehend the necessity of a fiery speech. In fact, laying down the gauntlet with a verbal tirade is one of the few times words consistently fail me.

The way I see it, motivation can be internal or external.

One can, without a doubt, serve to amplify the other for a few moments, yet only the former can generate and maintain the focus required to produce sustained success. I’m certain each of us has been buoyed by impassioned rhetoric of some kind–whether in a locker room or from a stage–only to find our energy wane within days (if not hours or minutes).

This is why I am quite laissez-faire with my students.

In my mind, their will to achieve is what matters, as “babysitter” was left out of my job description. I can muster all the histrionics a grand performer might hope for and it is of little good when their mindset is lacking.

When drive is absent, it follows–“as the night the day“–that results plummet.

A fire burns within us all.

As individuals, we must seek our own fuel to ensure the flame stays alight. A strong motive emanating from within glows bright in all weather. Regardless of life’s storms, our soul must be able to warm its hands from the inside.

Others can only stoke the blaze.

There is a mistaken belief in the power of another. We like to think someone will pour gasoline on our desire and really get us going. Reality is we–the people with the dreams–are solely able to create our wildfire.

Inspiration and meaning are sparks, ignition dependent upon a waiting fuel source.

Begging for fire and brimstone to help manifest your idea is foolish.

This is not to say, you shouldn’t ask for help–we all need some from time to time.

Relying on someone else, though, is asking to be burned.

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Why it’s Good to Question Your Motivation

New research shows it’s better to ask “Will I?” than to say “I will.”

The study, published in the April Psychological Science, found participants spending a minute thinking about whether they would complete a task scored better than those who affirmed their ability to do so. In both cases–a short word problem and taking time to exercise the following week–the group posing an internal question produced better results.

Why?

It seems the first gives “how” more immediacy. A firm statement brings the hammer down, it has finality with its certainty.

The buck has stopped.

Proceedings are closed.

As any parent of a toddler knows, an inquisitive mind is open to all sorts of answers.

Perhaps by “priming the pump,” so to speak, the brain is able to bring forth a more fruitful and pointed examination–the kind that creates results.

A police interrogation is concerned with details. Perhaps your mind is the same way.

By beginning a line of thoughtful consideration–instead of uttering one sentence with emotional force–you engage in exploration. You are able to contemplate actions and possible outcomes.

Like a wandering tourist, you lay out a map between your current location and dozens of destinations.

With all your options in front of you, commitment and desire come into play.

You’re able to measure risk and reward.

Inspiration has a chance to strike.

And suddenly, you’ve figured out what you must do.

You’ve asked the right questions–and the answers say you will.

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