Motivation (December 19)


“It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them” (George Eliot).

IS “MOTIVATION” SOMETHING THAT WE OURSELVES HAVE ANY CONTROL OVER? Some people apparently believe that it is not; they wait around hoping to “be motivated,” as if that condition were going to drop down out of the sky and sweep them off their feet.

Certainly there are times when we’d like to be more powerfully motivated, but nothing we do seems to help; the desired enthusiasm for our goals remains elusive. Even so, we need to be careful not to avoid responsibility for our own attitudes. The fact that some people are motivated more consistently than others is not the result of their having been born that way. It’s the result of choices they make.

For one thing, the quantity of our “motivation” grows out of the quality of our “motives.” Higher, worthier motives produce a motivation that’s more forceful and long-lasting. Keith Yamashita, whose expertise is in motivating large corporations to improve themselves, has said this: “All meaningful change starts with right aspiration.” He’s exactly right, and his point is encouraging because aspiration is something we can do something about. If our motivation seems lacking, we can reconsider what it is that we’re aspiring to. Elevating the quality of our motives can increase the quantity (or power) of our motivation.

There really are few things more beautiful in life than to behold someone who is moved energetically by high and worthy goals. Like all of us, these people need encouragement from time to time. But basically, they are motivated by a fire that burns from within, and they don’t need constant goading to get busy. They’re a joy to work with, to play with, and to live with. And deciding to be that kind of person is a gift that every one of us can give to those we care about.

I’d be less than honest, however, if I didn’t tell you something else: greatly motivated people tend to be people who’re acquainted with sorrow. They’re not people whose lives are in perfect equilibrium, but rather they’re folks who know a bit about longings and broken hearts. That’s where their passion comes from, and it’s not a bad thing.

“Never let go of that fiery sadness called desire” (Patti Smith).

Gary Henry –