9 Ways to Awaken Your Motivation

As with any practical and important topic, one concern is that people feel like they “get it” after reading the content; never mind they haven’t actually done anything about it. No different In this blog series on internal motivation, or Drive. While I’m sure that isn’t the case with anyone reading this (right?), it might be for all those other people.

Seriously, who hasn’t read something, identified with it mentally and then automatically thought “I’m good to go?”.  I  know I am guilty of this…..way too often.

To keep that from happening to you, I listed 9 things below that can help awaken internal motivation in yourself and those you lead. These all come from the end of Dan Pink’s book Drive and relate to what I covered in this post series on Drive …with a few added twists:

  1. Give yourself a “Flow” test-   “Flow” is an element of mastery and a state where in which both the goal and activity itself are the reward; time seems to stand-still or be non-existent and any sense of place and self melt away. We’ve all experienced it, but this cool game actually allows you to get into and experience a “flow state” within a few seconds…literally.  If you play the game for at least 45seconds…literally, you’ll quickly re-acquaint yourself with “flow state”. Now, set your phone or computer to go off randomly during the week (~40 times) to give yourself a pulse-check and see how often you experience it. Record what you’re experiencing: flow or no-flow? If flow, what were you working on, what time and how often did you experience it?
  2. Ask yourself a BIG question- Clare Booth, one of the first women in congress, said “A great man is a sentence”. Abraham Lincoln’s sentence was “He preserved the Union and freed the slaves”. As you contemplate your powerful “WHY”, can you boil it down and answer the question “What’s my sentence?”
  3. Ask yourself a SMALL question, daily- “Was I a little better today than yesterday?” What it is can vary and be general or specific (ie. did it better, wrote 2 notes, etc.), but the important thing is that you make meaningful, forward progress of some sort.
  4. Take a “Sagmeister”-  Some may think taking an extended period to get alone for reflection, exploration and even enjoyment is an unaffordable luxury. The reality is that if you’re a leader, at some point extended time away from the grind is a necessity you can’t afford to not take, regardless of whether it’s 2wks, 6mo. or a year. The other is that it will never happen without a deliberate decision and intentional planning.
  5. Get Unstuck by going Oblique-  A cool set of 100 cards developed by a producer and artist  helps you get out of a mental rut, especially when faced with pressure filled deadlines. Each card contains a simple question that acts as a brain bomb that jolts you and keeps the forward progress going. There is a twitter version as well.
  6. Just say “NO”, with a list-  If you have a “To Do” list, then make sure you have a “To Don’t” list as well. Tom Peters found that making an inventory of things that sapped his energy and focus allowed him to keep both and then apply them to the the things that really matter.
  7. Move 5 steps closer to Mastery- engage in deliberate practice regularly; Repeat; Consistently seek critical feedback; Focus ruthlessly on keys areas of improvement; Have the realistic expectation that you’re going  to be mentally and physically exhausted. That’s why most people don’t engage the process.
  8. Cards as a Compass- In his book Rules of Thumb, Alan Webber describes an exercise to help you stay on the path of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose  or AMP. Take two cards, each with a question. The first question is “What gets you up in the morning?” the other is “What keeps you up at night?” Answer both questions each day until you get a sense of alignment and meaning.   Consolidate them and you now have a true north “Card Compass” for your AMP. Check-in regularly, course correct as needed, and revisit occasionally to check that your Card Compass is still rightly calibrated.
  9. Create your own motivational poster- Most of the generic one-word motivational posters are now past prime and have become largely cliche. Motivation is deeply personal and often best served by the words or images that resonate with us most.  These sites allow you to make your own: Despair Inc.; Big Huge Labs; and Automotivator (please leave a comment if you’ve found other sites or tools helpful).  Go make one that moves you.059 AwakeMotivate II

Don’t get sabotaged by good intentions of wanting to do it all or even a lot. If you’re looking to increase Drive in yourself or those you lead, What is ONE  practical step you’re willing to commit to in order to take those you lead, in your business and life, to the next level?

It’s a well known fact that when you commit something to writing your much more likely to actually execute and carry it out. If you committed to take action, do yourself a favor by leaving a comment below. Now, go enjoy your favorite cup!