Exceptional Leaders are Self-Motivated

Exceptional Leaders don’t wait for others to motivate them.

Did you ever notice that the word “motivation” appears to be the combination of to words, “motive” and “action”? In other words, “Motivation” is your “motive for action”. There are two types of motivation, internal and external. External motivation includes things like praise, rewards, fear, recognition and approval. These are definitely motivators, but over time they need to be constantly sweetened in order to maintain their appeal.

You don’t want to be like the old boy back home who owned the farm. He and his wife worked the farm together every day. They would get up early to go out to do their chores for the day. It took both of them to keep the farm productive, and it served them well and provided a decent income.

One morning the old boy woke up and was not feeling well. He couldn’t even get out of bed. When his wife came in to ask him why he hadn’t gotten out of bed, he told her, “I ain’t feeling right pert today, sweetie. I guess you’ll have to do the chores without me today.” Well as soon as she completed the chores she got him up and took him into town to see the doctor, who looked him over thoroughly. The doctor then asked him to leave the room while he spoke to the wife. He told her that her husband was in pretty bad shape, but he thought they could save him, if she would do just three things. Well she was eager to know what those three things were, so the doctor told her that first, she would have to cook him three meals every day. Secondly, he told her she would have to wait on him hand and foot. And finally he told her she would have to bow to his every need. She asked the doctor, What will happen if I don’t do those three things?” The doctor said, “Well, he’ll likely die.”

When she went back to the waiting room to see her husband, he anxiously asked, “Well, what did the doctor say?” She responded, “The doctor said you’ll likely die.”

The moral of the story is that you cannot always count on external motivators to keep you going. That being the case, it may be wise to consider the alternative, which is to develop internal motivators that are within your control, things like attitudes, beliefs, assumptions, interpretations and paradigms. Some of these are so long held that they are not easily evaluated. However, the truth is, any particular belief or attitude that you hold can shape the way you filter and interpret all incoming information, and can be changed. For example, in the 1960s the words “Made in Japan” stood for cheap trinkets that would not last. The early automobiles imported from Japan validated these beliefs. It took several years with above average performance before consumers shifted their belief. Today the automobiles and other products made in Japan are the epitome of quality.

The same goes for perceptions or beliefs you hold about yourself or others. If you see yourself as a failure, you are likely to call up all instances that reinforce this belief, and will continue to project that outcome on future situations, such that you convince yourself of your inability to succeed. You will likely hear other’s comments and evaluations of your work as reinforcement of your preconceived ideas of failure. When this is the case you will find yourself in a perpetual cycle of self-destruction that will keep you from ever achieving success.

However, those beliefs and interpretations are simply that. They are not necessarily accurate, nor do they have to lock you in to your current situation. You can change the beliefs. You can reinterpret and reframe the events in your life. You can break free from the old paradigm and can adopt new assumptions that will serve to motivate you rather than discourage and defeat you. It will take a new discipline of healthier self-talk, but it can be done.

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