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This excerpt comes from a chapter of the forthcoming book, Lightning Growth: Success Stragtegies for Today's Leaders, published my Motivational Press. A compilation of the thoughts and ideas from 35 thought leaders around the world, Lightning Growth offers it's readers a new, expanded perspective on work and play.
This teaser excerpt, titled The Motivational Mechanism, contains three of the eight total pages of my chapter. You can find the full text on Amazon in the fall of 2016.
The Motivational Mechanism
Once upon a time, life was amazing. You did what you wanted, when you wanted and had no problem finding the time, energy, inspiration, motivation, creativity, ideas, or resources to get stuff done. Then, you turned five.
That’s when the trouble started.
That was the year you learned how to shift away from your natural, inner motivational mechanism to needing motivation to come from an external source. It was a pivotal year in your life and you probably had no idea what was happening.
That’s the year you learned the difference between what you wanted to do and what you had to do. It all went downhill from there.
Is it any wonder that we have a perceived motivational drought in a large portion of our population?
There are always those who break away from the pack and figure it out. Perhaps they aren’t able to articulate what happened but they knew it was the right choice by how it felt. It’s likely they attributed their sudden energetic recalibration to their new response to life’s general ennui. They simply decided, unapologetically, things needed to change. The result was a thrilling reconnection with their inner, natural motivational mechanism.
We call these strange beings the lucky ones, the gifted ones, the ones who have it all. We talk about how they seem to have an unnatural ability to sustain focused activity for long periods of time. Many of these strange creatures can even focus on, and complete, projects they don’t enjoy. We find this mysterious.
In this chapter, you’re going to uncover the mystery of the motivational mechanism and how to access your own.
Have you ever had times when you’re totally in the flow? You’re focused, creative, and having fun. Time stands still. You don’t notice it’s been eight hours since your last meal or that your bladder’s been full since noon. The kids? They’ve been calling your name incessantly. They finally gave up and made dinner themselves.
You were so in the zone you didn’t notice a thing. You become no body, no thing, in no time. What created this pleasurable, sustained focus?
This state we call flow is you slipping onto your natural state of motivation. It’s not that people aren’t motivated. It’s only and ever a question of what they’re motived to. Humans don’t lack motivation or need it be inserted into their experience. All humans are born with a natural, fully intact, fully functional motivational mechanism. Until they’re talked out of it, of course.
If you want your life experience to be different, it’s helpful to become aware of what’s happening internally when you’re experiencing an outpouring of motivation. It’s also helpful to direct a little bit more attention to what’s going on internally, and externally, when you’re not. All is being made clear to you, in time.
Humans being are naturally creative. We want to do, be, and have more. Keep in mind it’s not really the end product we seek to experience. It’s much more the unfolding process we desire. The experience we want is the creative one.
This is the motivational mechanism in it’s truest form: joyful, creative expansion. Tapping into your natural motivational mechanism is one of the most thrilling aspects about being human. It makes you feel alive.
Why Don’t I Feel Motivated?
When you were little, people left you alone for the most part. Because you were short, harmless and took naps often, they let you build fairy houses, fly imaginary airplanes to the moon and wear feathery boas and glittery tops to perform major surgery. They rarely asked you to do things you didn’t naturally find exciting because of your inclination to say no.
It wasn’t a soft no either; it was a hard no.
In this protected state of youth, you had no problem being motivated to create. In fact, nap time was typically when your second wind hit. No one needed to tell you to stay focused, create, imagine, or keep going. There was no carrot or stick needed to motivate you. You had the endurance of a million wild horses. You were they poster child for motivation.
Then, the tall people in your world had an idea. They thought it would be good if you learned to follow the rules and play well with others. This was where things went awry. No longer were you able to build the way in which you were inspired to, or problem solve in ways that felt natural. Now, you had to do it Their Way.
Things were different from that day forward. There were things you wanted to do, which you had no problem doing. There were things you had to do, Their Way. This didn’t feel natural. You began to notice doing it Their Way felt hard. It felt forced, boring, and uninteresting. You resisted, hard.
The tall people took notice of this and began to ask you, repeatedly, to do it Their Way. In fact, in order to get you to do this thing you had never naturally done before, they resorted to cajoling, prodding, promising, and praising.
Some tall ones even punished.
You noticed that the other short ones who did it Their Way immediately got smiles, hugs, and kind words. Who doesn’t want that?
The ones who didn’t got time outs, stern faces, and more homework. What was the world coming to?
Being the forward thinking short one you were, you could see where this was going. In order to keep the peace, you joined the other Good Ones and made it work. As time passed, however, the tall ones needed to add more and more promises, praise, and punishments in order to get you to comply. The more you tried to do it Their Way, the less you used your natural motivational mechanism. The freedom of youth faded.
Along the way, you even heard rumors of The Ones Who Didn’t being called unmotivated. Shivers ran up your spine. Was this rumor true? Were they really that bad? You made a mental note to yourself: Avoid, The Ones Who Didn’t, at all cost.
This continued, as it did for many of the other Good Ones, for years. One day, you noticed it felt as if you’d lost your ability to find your way back to your motivational mechanism. This made you very sad. You felt discouraged, hopeless.
However, not all was truly lost. (continuted in the full book available fall of 2016.)