In the first of two blogs I shall be discussing the nature of, and the need for, inner motivation. In the second piece I shall detail some straightforward things that can be done on a daily basis to help generate and sustain it where it matters – from the core.
As with all change be it in our thinking, our actions, our behaviour, and our habits, it all originates and is sustained from within ourselves – and from nowhere else. The same is true of motivation be it in business or in our private lives.
Motivation begins with a thought, a desire for achievement. Achievement, that is, on any scale: it does not have to be an Olympic gold. Whatever it is, we have to want it badly enough to push ourselves on, to challenge our own boundaries, and to move towards preset goals instead of waiting for our lives to simply ‘happen’. Ultimately there is nowhere to hide – it comes down to how badly we want it so, if it is not already the case, now is the time to take responsibility and to take control.
When reaching out to achieve a goal, we can sometimes find obstacles in our path so there may be times when we ask ourselves, wouldn’t it be easier to compromise our goal? Wouldn’t it be simpler to lower our expectations of ourselves? These are the times when we feel ‘on the anvil’ and it’s right here where our inner motivation really needs to kick in and make the difference.
While the motivation must from within, we can boost it through external inspiration from any number of sources: our loved ones; famous figures; stories of hardships overcome; a novel; the list is endless. Inspiration can help us to fire our motivation, but it cannot be anything more than an occasional boost – it is from far deeper within us that we find the real power to realise our desires.
It is for each one of use to throw down the gauntlet at our own feet. With our goal well set we can rise to our own challenge, remain focused – reinforced in our motivation to finish what we started. In that way, if our path appears blocked by an obstacle, our initial and only reaction is in deciding whether we go around it, under it, over it, or straight through it. Basically, we’re not stopping for anything!
MEDITATION IN BUSINESS: IT WORKS!
In a frenetic, noisy and obsessive world, the ability to disengage from the hurly burly can prove invaluable, most particularly when we are trying to find inspiration to fire our inner motivation or to manage difficult challenges. In my own experience I have found that the ability to be able to step back and observe events in the moment, with a certain detachment from negative emotions, is a potent skill, especially (but not exclusively) in business.
Meditation comes in many forms, from a variety of traditions, and it is not my intention here to discuss techniques or philosophies: there is bountiful information on this subject both online and in print. My aim is to encourage people to simply cast off preconceptions and take a look.
At a bare minimum, meditation can have very notable applications for the busiest of schedules, in fact the busier and more stressful life gets, the more valuable it can be to develop such skills. This fact has been embraced by a number of corporations including Apple, Google, Nike and HBO to name but a few.
SO, WHAT BENEFITS CAN MEDITATION OFFER?
THE MONKEY MIND
We all experience this: the incessant inner dialogue that occupies our minds for much of our day – a constant flow of consciousness tumbling like lottery balls, with no beginning, middle or end. So how can our thought process, so congested, be expected to work effectively for us? Surely, if we are able to quieten the internal chatter there can be greater benefits for us than allowing it to carry on unchecked.
Even a brief period of contemplation, each day, is a good start – it’s just a matter of engaging with the present moment when time is set aside for being alone with ourselves. Like all skills, setting aside all unnecessary thoughts takes practice, but in learning to do so benefits can be felt from the start. Of course the relaxation can be reward enough but there’s far more to gain than that:
With a calm and uncluttered mind comes clarity and with it determination, as we see what needs to be done whether we are beginning to set goals or in need of reinforcing our resolve during a difficult day. When we tame our monkey mind we find, in its place, calm and simplicity – what better state is there for making good decisions?
With the mind thus soothed we will also find it far less likely that we can be knocked off our course by distractions. We are able to refocus on the priorities and goals we set ourselves with greater vigour. We can rediscover those emotions that inspired us when we first decided upon a course of action and so launch ourselves, refreshed, into making a reality of our wishes.
In large measure, we take control of our thoughts because if we do not do it then someone else will try do it for us. We can then find ourselves abdicating our free will, albeit subconsciously, and following the agenda of others. Alternatively we drift on autopilot leaving our most important decisions to our social conditioning, negative emotions, and learned reactions. If our own hands are on the steering wheel, however, we can be sure of our ideas, as our thoughts are stripped back to their bare essentials. There is no waste, just the burning desire to carry through the goals we have set.
Meditation connects us directly to our unadulterated core values, our essence – in other words, the things that really make us tick. Nothing is more important as we cannot be truly happy or feel fulfilment if we are not at one with who we really aspire to be.
And regular meditation can do all this? Not on its own but it is an invaluable element in helping us to do it. Meditation gives us the choices, and in this life, clear choice is a precious resource available to us all, we just have to ‘dig’ a little.
Following on from a recent blog about the benefits of acknowledging weakness , a blind alley that individuals, managers and organisations need to be aware of is when fear is confused for respect.
Actually, such confusion should never arise as they are so completely different, but alas it is all too common. Fear, if unchecked, can create and spread a sense of malaise within a corporate body that can, at best, impede growth and at worst will wreak havoc within the entire structure of an organisation. Pretty soon, management and staff can find themselves operating in the blind: a culture of fear.
HARD TIMES, TOUGH CALLS
In recent times, many companies and organisations, large and small, have found themselves in a position when difficult decisions needed to be taken in order to ensure survival and growth (albeit modest). Such measures impact in a very personal way on the lives of individuals be it restructuring, cost savings, maximising on synergies etc. That is not in question here – a good entrepreneur at some point will have to take decisions that require a strong stomach – they are there to lead, even in the teeth of the storm.
FEAR IS NOT FAST TRACK RESPECT
Managing through fearful times is not the same as using that fear as a tool of management. That is a poor substitute for leadership, in fact, it indicates a lack of any leadership at all. If management by fear becomes a de facto policy, we should ask on which planet would a negative, vulnerable and scared workforce operate better than one that is positively motivated, focused and inspired – recession or no?
A kingdom founded on injustice never lasts
WHEN THE TIDE TURNS
When the ethos of excess pressure and fear (aka bullying) exists then this is a sign that troubled times lie ahead – and such a culture will begin to display structural flaws most particularly when an economy begins to emerge from recession:
An organisation’s strongest and most able people will be gone at the earliest opportunity (if it has not already happened) – with predictable results
The chances of enticing high achievers will be jeopardised. How can a business take full advantage of increased opportunities when it’s most able people work for the competition?
Leadership through fear is like ‘one club golf‘ and has no inbuilt flexibility and a very limited life span.
Shaking off the effects of a fear culture takes time and radical change – but since when did the world of business and opportunity proceed at a leisurely pace?
If fear runs through an organisation there is very little that can be done without a radical and imaginative approach from the executive. This has to come from the top and starts with the core values of the boardroom. A good executive can lead it’s people through the toughest times but once opportunities become more plentiful, the whole corporation will come into its own.
In the depth of winter
I finally learned that there was in me
an invincible summer
ALBERT CAMUS, French Nobel Prize winning writer
In the next blog we shall look closely at how individual managers, regardless of the scale of their responsibilities, can maintain awareness of their performance and in doing so ensure that their people are lead and not pushed.
CAN ACCEPTING A WEAKNESS BE BENEFICIAL?
the state or condition of being weak.
synonyms: frailty, feebleness, enfeeblement, puniness, fragility, delicateness,
a disadvantage or fault.
Synonyms: Fault, flaw, defect, deficiency, weak point/spot, failing, foible,
Shortcoming, imperfection, blemish, chink in one’s armour
THE POPULAR VIEW
When such definitions and synonyms are combined with a western puritan work ethic, there is little wonder why our culture and society views weakness – and in particular admitting we have any – with such negativity. In many areas of our lives weakness it is seen as, quite simply, unacceptable. No where is this more pronounced than in the world of business where accepting weakness is often regarded as kryptonite. Ours is a ‘can do’ society where individuals ‘in control’, or those who make things happen, especially in the teeth of a storm, are greatly admired.
Real life strategies, especially at work, need more than gung-ho attitudes to stay the course
THE DAMAGE WITHIN
A problem we face is that we pften fear our weaknesses and seek to keep them hidden – sometimes even from ourselves. Such negativity thrives in the dark corners of our consciousness and if left to its own devices it festers and grows. Many believe that if they admit to a weakness they will be judged and criticised by their peers (as if those same peers do not possess weaknesses themselves). The internal corrosion of fear and self-judgment, and the stress and anxiety it creates, is not only damaging to our health, but is also completely unnecessary.
The acceptance of weakness has to be clearly defined. Surely we all accept the fact that we are not going to be good at everything. Our abilities, our thoughts and actions, all have their ups and downs. Weak points are inevitable, but accepting that fact does not mean we are giving in to, or indulging, a flaw – it is a simple matter of reality and the sooner we grasp that fact the sooner we can get on and do something about it.
If we ignore where we’re vulnerable, rest assured our competitors will not
In businesses one so often hears military and sporting metaphors being used, but many ignore an attitude to weakness prevalent in elite sport and the military: they ignore it at their peril. They may wish to conceal any weaknesses from a tactical point of view, but behind the scenes their attitude to weakness is realistic, pragmatic with a very practical and up-beat outlook.
THE BENEFITS OF ACCEPTING WEAKNESS
Once accepted, a weakness can be more easily quantified, understood and then work can begin to do something about it – a small piece at a time if necessary
There is no longer a hidden fear linked to our most vulnerable points as we begin to rise to the challenge of addressing them
When weaknesses comes to light, be grateful. Knowing they are there is half the battle because whether we like it or not, they’re there
Being more intimately acquainted with the topography of our abilities and character makes us better equipped to face life on our terms. After all, if we know where the ditches are we can avoid driving into them
Enormous motivation and forward momentum comes from tackling a weakness as opposed to ignoring it
Whether weaknesses are neutralised, contained, or even removed altogether, we can then concentrate on the game winner: playing to our strengths.
If we do not manage our weaknesses, we can be certain that,
sooner or later, they WILL manage us.
We hone our strengths and seek to perfect them as they are our vanguard in life. But improving a weakness, even by a few points can raise our whole performance right across the board.