A Coaching Power Tool Created by Anurag Sharma
(Leadership & Business Performance Coach, INDIA)
People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents. – Andrew Carnegie
Aniket is a successful corporate executive. He is highly respected in the company and in the industry for his business acumen, strategic planning and excellent execution. At 42 he is probably the youngest Vice President Sales in his company’s history. Extensive travel (12-15 days in a month), late night drinks & parties, untimely and unhealthy food habits, 15-20 cigarettes a day, total lack of physical exercise etc were all characteristic of his lifestyle. All this had started to take a toll on his health and well-being. Aniket was overweight, the last medical check-up eight months ago revealed that all fitness parameters such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol etc had started to go beyond the recommended permissible standards. The family doctor and his family came down on him heavily and Aniket agreed to make lifestyle changes to get on top of his health. He enrolled at the neighbourhood gym and started to wake up at 5 in the morning to add a one hour work-out at the Gym to his routine. Nutritious mid-day short eats and lunch were now being packed for him from home. He replaced his tea-coffee-carbonate drinks with green tea. Smoking came down to about 8-10 cigarettes and evenings were being spent with the family instead of at the pub catching up with office colleagues or industry friends. On day 4 of his new routine, one of his Zonal Managers invited some dealers for a drink and an informal evening with the Vice President. Aniket got so engrossed in the discussions he didn’t realise when he ordered his 3rd drink and the 4th and further. Sipping his drink and munching on the rich (unhealthy) snacks he also lost count of the number of cigarettes he smoked. By the time he reached home it was past midnight. He missed his Gym appointment the next morning.
Four days is all that his new improved healthy lifestyle lasted. Since then Aniket has had several unsuccessful “start-stop” goes at it but because of lack of sustained self-motivation combined with all the business travel and business networking that he does, the only thing that has sustained is the green tea. The reports from last week’s medical check-up are slightly worse than before.
Like Aniket, many of us have experienced a lack of follow-through on our action plans. Unkept “New Year Resolutions” are a classic example.
Whether pursuing personal and professional goals or while just living life with all life’s ups & downs, you can choose to be Self-motivated and take required action to produce extraordinary and brilliant outcomes, OR be content with mediocre results and remain Mediocre. The choice that you make will influence how much of yourself you will give to the pursuit of what you want in (and from) your life.
Self-motivated Action is the pathway to Excellence
You neither want to be mediocre nor do you want to be seen or be spoken about as a mediocre being. You want people to acknowledge you as being excellent, don’t you?
As a recipient, you don’t demand or crave to have mediocre outcomes and results. You wish for excellent conditions, excellent considerations and excellent experiences. You want excellent goods and services, excellent outcomes of your endeavours, and excellent rewards.
Without a doubt “Excellent” is appealing, and “Excellent” is what you desire.
Wanting something and motivating yourself to do and continue to do what needs to be done to get it, are two different things.
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible. – Ronnie Max Oldham
The pursuit of “Excellence” is demanding. It necessitates extraordinary enthusiasm, focussed energy, relentless effort, resolute action, and unbeatable tenacity and endurance; keeping yourself self-motivated to “keep-on keeping-on” during the pursuit of a goal is therefore vital for achieving excellent outcomes & results.
Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. – James Allen
Mediocrity is effortless
Not doing more than the average is what keeps the average down. – William M. Winans
Ordinary performance and ordinary efforts do not lead to extraordinary results. Mediocrity is when there is no extra energy or effort or action brought forward to achieve more than what would normally be achieved, by default. It takes no effort to be Mediocre.
When we’re ‘resigned-to-fate’ or do not bring forth any extra initiative to alter our default results because of the underlying limiting belief ‘whatever-has-to-happen-will-happen’ we are setting ourselves up for mediocrity in life.
When there is no Self-motivated Action to follow-through on ambitious goals; lethargy and the tendency to stay within our comfort zone – continuing to do what we’ve always done, will keep us confined to mediocrity and mediocre results.
When faced with an adverse circumstance or a challenging situation, in the absence of self-motivation and purposeful action we end up playing the “wait and watch” game and either accept or react feebly & half-heartedly to how the situation unfolds, embracing a disempowering helplessness and resigning to default outcomes.
What is Self-Motivation?
Self-Motivation is what pushes us and keeps us moving in the direction of our goal, doing what needs to be done without giving up in the face of obstacles and hardships, and without needing another to supervise, direct or prod us to be in action.
“If it’s got to be, it’s up to me”
Self-motivation is an attitude, a mindset that we adopt during our journey in pursuit of a goal especially when we encounter adversity. People who are self-motivated understand that ‘the difference between who we are and who we want to be is how we think and what we do’.
We can’t always choose or control our circumstances but we can choose our attitude towards our circumstances. The attitude we choose governs our thoughts and feelings, it directs our actions and shapes our efforts – which then go to influence the results we achieve. Our outcomes therefore are largely a manifestation of our attitude towards what needs to get done in order to achieve what we want to achieve.
Daniel Goleman, the father of Emotional Intelligence, identified four elements that make up self-motivation
- Personal Drive ie the burning desire to improve or make progress;
- Commitment to Goals (Personal or Organisational);
- Initiative ie ‘readiness to act on ideas, beliefs & opportunities’; and
- Optimism - the ability to keep going and continue to pursue the objective with conviction and confidence even when setbacks happen and there are hurdles in the path.
Different people are motivated by different things at different times and in different areas of their life. Motivators may be intrinsic or extrinsic.
- Intrinsic: We perform actions because we love to/we want to.
- Extrinsic: We perform actions because we must/we have to in order to attain some reward (money, promotion, good grades etc.)
Self-motivated Action sustains personal and professional growth
Being self-motivated and taking action is an opportunity and means for personal and professional growth.
That we ourselves (and our attitude) cause and control our results, is in itself a supremely empowering and highly energizing belief. Being “in charge of our outcomes” gives a sense of power, freedom, authority and accountability. From being helpless victims and hapless spectators of situations and life as they unfold, when we are self-motivated we begin to write the script of who we shall be and what we shall have in life. We start to control our destiny.
Donning the attitude of a person “in charge and in control” enhances our confidence and self-esteem. We stay more positive, work at being better organised, maintain a focus on priorities and take purposeful action. Our self-assurance reassures others.
Self distrust is the cause of most of our failure. In the assurance of strength there is strength, and they are the weakest, however strong, who have no faith in themselves or their powers. – Christian Bovee
Being Self-motivated enhances our resourcefulness
When we are resolute in our commitment to achieve what we have set out to achieve we are not deterred by handicaps, barriers and temporary setbacks and failures. When confronted by adversity, our motivated self looks for and finds ways to reach the goal, and we grow our self further in the process. Higher creativity and greater self-reliance are natural by-products of Self-motivation.
Self-motivated people are humble. They ask others for help when needed.
First we make choices then our choices make us
Not wanting to be branded as an average or mediocre person will keep us self-motivated to explore what more and what next can we do to make progress in pursuit of our goal. What we have in life will always be a reflection of the choices we make.
- How do you feel about yourself and what kind of results are you getting in areas where you are self-motivated and are taking purposeful action to achieve the end results that you want to achieve?
- Compare that with your feeling about yourself, your progress and your results in areas where you are not self-motivated to continue being in action.
- Identify whether your motivators in the area where you are taking self-motivated action are intrinsic or extrinsic.
- Reflect on which motivators (intrinsic or extrinsic) do you find are more energizing and empowering?
Clients hire a Coach because they want to be, do or have better than what was in their past or is in their present. They want improved results in one or more areas of their life and they need help with that. They want their coach to help them be leading edge.
When a client encounters “seemingly” massive challenges or obstacles and hardships on their path to goal attainment, in the absence of self-motivation, a feeling of helplessness and/or resignation may take over and there may be a tendency to remain within one’s comfort zone and tread along with minimal effort, exertion and initiative – thus producing lacklustre & mediocre results.
Clients will often begin to work on a project/task/objective with a high degree of enthusiasm and energy. This enthusiasm and high energy tend to wane off with the passage of time.
As a Coach we need to help our clients to be self-motivated on an ongoing basis so that they take and continue to take the required actions which will help them move closer to their desired goal.
People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily. – Zig Ziglar
As a coach we must listen for the client’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and work with the client to help them find a way to keep these motivators alive and visible every day.
- What are some questions you can ask a client to decipher their motivators for a goal attainment?
- What are some structures you can build to keep your own self-motivation alive?
- What will you do to revive your self-motivation if you find it is waning in an area?