“Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. Just keep swimming. . .”
Remember that? Best advice the world ever got from a Blue Tang. Thanks Dory.
Yes, it’s that kind of day. Pixar film, advice from fictional (and forgetful) fish kind of day. Don’t be a hater; I get my inspiration from all kinds of sources, CTFD and deal with it.
Yesterday I did three workouts again. Yes, again. I am maybe not taking my advice to slow down. But …. (to ROB), I joined a Crossfit gym and I “had” to go. Yep, in addition to going to power vinyassa yoga and running I am now going to find time to do Crossfit, for the following (ridiculous) reasons: 1) there was a Groupon, 2) my friends are doing it, 3) I “need” to train differently for my Spartan races, 4) there are HOT men there, and uh, 5) see #1 and #4, hellllllloooooo – enough said.
So you know, in addition to the four miles I squeezed in between lecturing I “had” to go to Crossfit. I mean, I paid for it and everything. . . and those abs are not going to crunch themselves. I maybe didn’t have to do two WOD’s while there but, um, I did. I might be a little sore today. Little bit. Not going to let that slow me down though. Advil, coffee, B vitamins, water and BAM, I’m back at it baby. Next workout starts in an hour. Bring it.
So, what’s the deal here, exactly? I take the same approach to manage my three jobs (wait, is it four? Five maybe? I lost count two roles ago). I’m not a superhero, although if that option arises I totally call dibs on Wonder Woman, her boots rock. I don’t have any special talents or mass reserves of energy that the rest of the world doesn’t have. So given my apparent (growing) addiction to exercise related endorphins and unwillingness to say “no” to any new employment related venture, what kind of crack am I taking?
Drive. That’s what. Motivation. Refusal to quit. Challenge to myself to be better than I was yesterday, all day, every day.
Speaking of drive, I’m using the book with said title (“Drive,” just in case you haven’t picked up on that latent clue yet) by Daniel Pink in my courses this semester. It’s an amazing book about human motivation and how and why we do what we do.
In the introduction Pink uses the experiments of Harry Harlow and Edward Deci to illustrate how scientists have identified three main kinds of drive- 1- biological, 2- reward based, and, more recently, 3- intrinsic.
It is the last one, that which is sparked by curiosity, enjoyment and interest, that he spends the rest of the book explaining, highlighting and encouraging readers to tap into. Now I’m not writing this to sell more books for Daniel Pink. He’s kind of got that shit handled all on his own. I’m writing it as a point of interest and to begin a dialogue about getting out of your comfort zone, expanding your interests and commencing your own journey to total world domination.
What motivates you? What drives your passion? What fuels your purpose? What best increases your capacity for growth? Why? Are you more likely to do something for financial gain or personal well-being? For a promotion or for increasing your knowledge base, strength or skillset? Because it would please someone else, or because it would please you?
In attempting to inspire others, what works better- the “carrots and sticks” method or reaching a deep level of inspiration? Empowering others through modeling, support and encouragement, or by bribing them? By getting people to do things to please you, or to please themselves (which will in turn please others)?
For me, I can identify two strong motivators that work for me and have, in my experience, worked for others- my desire to grow personally, and my desire to help others do the same.
I don’t workout for others, I workout for me. I don’t compete in events for the medals and bragging rights (seriously, what the hell am I supposed to do with those medals anyway? Wear them to the grocery store and yell “I AM A SPARTAN” down every aisle? Tempting, but I think I’ll pass). I compete to challenge myself to get the best outcome possible that day. To push myself to my maximum physical limits right then, in that moment, given the body that showed up that day.
True, in turn, being a better me helps me to be a better mother, friend, teacher etc. . . , and it increases my confidence and thereby my happiness. Those are absolutely related. No question. But, what propels me through those long miles, those extra sets, those 75 minute vinyassa flows is not the direct desire to make someone else happy. It’s my attitude, my commitment, my ambition, my quest for self actualization that keeps me moving forward.
On the contrary, through my work I am seeking quite the opposite. I don’t do what I do because it explicitly makes me happy. Well, it does, but I do it because it helps others. Everything I do I do it for you. Just kidding. Kind of. Early 90’s song references aside, what motivates me to teach, to write, to consult, to train, to assist, to do what I do, is my intense and burning fascination with personal growth and my enormous appetite to support others in their own advancement.
It is not money. It is not the lucrative working hours or the perks of being (mostly) self employed. Those help, no doubt, but those are not enough. Knowing I make a difference is enough. Getting emails like this: “Professor Sweezey. . . thank you for making me understand what I haven’t understood in a long time,” is enough. That, is my work drive. That gets me up at 5am every morning and helps me work well into the twilight hours every night. Personal fulfillment experienced through facilitation and service. How awesome is that?
Every day I make mistakes. Every day I fail somehow. Every day I do something stupid (probably safe to make that a plural statement. . .). That doesn’t stop me from trying anyway. If anything, it makes me try harder.
Every day I also grow. Every day I also succeed. Every day I make progress, somehow, somewhere and in some small way. Even if I take two steps back, I know I’ll not only make up for them tomorrow, I will probably find something I missed along the way the first time. It’s my own will and determination that keeps me doing this cha-cha over and over again.
Have you heard the expression “the diet that works best is the one you stick to?” Well duh, right? Of course it works if you stay with it, that’s the point. But, what motivates you to stick to it for the long term? If it’s something tangible it is likely to fade with time, right? How many diets and exercise regimes have you failed to maintain? How many big projects have you abandoned? Balls you have dropped simply because they weren’t worth juggling anymore?
Sometimes this is okay. Knowing your limits and when to call it is a good thing. The universe is going to provide nicely for you, if you let it, but it’s wise not to continue with something when the cost to benefit analysis yields an outcome heavily in favor of the costs. That’s working smarter, not harder. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about when the benefits clearly outweigh the costs, but the work to get there is hard- really hard.
Well, nothing worth having comes easy, and that’s the damn truth. Whether it’s through painful lessons along the way, sweat on the mat or struggles that seemed once unbearable, your ability to take a blow and get back up is the difference between success and failure. Between dynamic or stagnant growth. You are the only thing standing in your own way. Let go of your fear and your excuses and get out of your way already. Find your motivator, hold on tight, and darling, enjoy the ride.
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