Re-Defining Motivation™

Last night preseason football kicked off with the Hall Of Fame™ induction followed by the game itself.

In an interview after receiving his gold jacket the legendary coach Bill Parcells made a statement that caught my ears. He was asked about motivation while referring to how he is considered one of the better motivators. His reply was quite informative as well as constructive if one reads into the underlying message. (I’m paraphrasing for I don’t have the transcript)

“First off, I think the motivation thing is very much over rated. If a player isn’t a self-starter in some respects, I don’t think you can motivate him. But you hope you have players on the squad that will respond to visible competition. And If you have the right kind of players, then all you have to do is show them where that competition is, and you usually get the right response.”

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you Mr. Parcells meant exactly this or that with the above statement. (Although most motivational speakers today would do just that which is the reason why they’re usually wrong) However, what I will say is I believe the take away theme of that statement gets lost on far too many while it simultaneously causes consternation in a great many more.

Let me express it using the following hypothetical examples:

If you don’t want to be a fire fighter but would rather be a police officer. I (nor do I believe anyone) can successfully “motivate” you to continue as the prior while promising you less stress or more happiness. Regardless the reasons. (Nor will the books and tapes that one is told “needs” to purchase as to stay “motivated.”)

Where you can be “motivated” is realizing you truly would rather switch careers or professions and get behind the motivating factors as to pursue and make the change. That is where my focus is. Not the “don’t worry be happy” drivel where 99.9% of people in my field focus.

Overcoming procrastination and other self-induced habits can be easily (yes I said easily) overcome or, over-ridden through new or re-emphasized techniques as to help move one towards their goals. However, no one is going to be able to push you in the direction you don’t want to go without an agonizingly mental bombardment of idiotic “happy talk” as to try to keep one on a path which they don’t (possibly unwittingly) want to pursue.

Motivation is far too often lumped into this “fix all” type of snake oil that some how “cures all.” Just like medicine; prescribe the wrong dosage or drug for the wrong ailment, and what you wont get is a pleasant outcome.

The goal of true motivation should be similar to medicine: To find the cause of the ailment. Then to move that person in the proper direction so they can adopt techniques and habits where they no longer need medication or, as many visits to the doctor in the first place.

Once you find or truly understand exactly where or with whom you actually want to compete. Motivation begins to be self-generative.

Or as Mr. Parcells said: “[s]how them where that competition is, and you usually get the right response.”

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr