December 10, 2007

Motivation and Manipulation

Filed under: Influence, Leadership, Motivation — Mark Sanborn @ 9:39 am

“Motivation is getting people to do something out of mutual advantage. Manipulation is getting people to do what you want them to do primarily for your advantage.” Fred Smith

October 5, 2007

If You Need a Little Inspiration…

Filed under: Success, Motivation — Mark Sanborn @ 8:55 am

…simply watch this clip

June 28, 2007

A Good Way to Celebrate

Filed under: Observations, Success, Motivation — Mark Sanborn @ 10:02 am

Today is my 49th birthday and I’ll be enjoying the day with family and friends. My long-time friend Joe Sabah sent a card with a birthday homework assignment that was given to him several years ago:
1. Admit to your age

2. Count as many blessings in your life as you have years

3. Write them down

4. Read them often

5. Repeat next year

This strikes me as a very good way to celebrate.

June 19, 2007

Infused Thinking

Filed under: Professional Development, Success, Motivation — Mark Sanborn @ 10:30 am

On Fathers Day, I got up early and read some of my favorite thinkers: Oswald Chambers, C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. I also read a few pages of The Intellectual Devotional, which has become one of my favorites. The entire process took no more than fifteen minutes.

It was time invested well. Having the inspiration of great thinkers and worthy ideas is a powerful way to start the day, and I’ve renewed my commitment to this practice as a result.

What infuses our thinking at the beginning of the day shapes our activities throughout the day. How do you jump start your brain in the morning?

May 20, 2007

Humiliation and Motivation

Filed under: Success, Motivation — Mark Sanborn @ 7:57 am

At 12 years of age, Hillary was a young man with a name that made life difficult in the Deep South. He preferred to go by HH.

A friend invited him to go swimming at the country club where his family belonged and HH arrived first. The temptation was too great and he decided to jump in the pool without his buddy. A man who knew HH was not a member threw him out and demanded to see him in his office the next day.

HH was humiliated at the scolding and treatment he received from the man and in decided he would have his own swimming pool one day.

Today, Hillary isn’t known as HH but as Zig Ziglar, a legendary speaker and author. Zig has had more than one swimming pool. The first was one foot longer than the pool at the country club in Yazoo City, Mississippi where he was evicted. All have been shaped like an arrow, a symbol from his bestselling book See You at the Top.

Setbacks and humiliation can defeat us, or they can drive us to do great things. How are you using the obstacles you encounter in your life?

May 14, 2007

Another Day Another Dollar

Filed under: Observations, Motivation — Mark Sanborn @ 10:48 am

That familiar sentiment was expressed in a song by Lynyrd Skynyrd, my vote for greatest southern rock band of all time. These fun-loving musicians were referring to doing another show and getting paid. Evidently even rock stars aren’t always inspired.

It strikes me that no matter how much you love what you do, there are days when it seems like a means to an end. Don’t worry about it. Life ebbs and flows. Nobody stays on top of the mountain all the time, and if they did, they’d soon grow unappreciative and probably even bored.

If  “another day another dollar” is your entire work week mantra, maybe it is time to either do your work differently or look for different work. But there are some days when we do what we need to do, knowing that as time passes, we’ll regain our enthusiasm and passion.

April 19, 2007

What Do You Do When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything?

Filed under: Observations, Success, Motivation — Mark Sanborn @ 2:50 pm

That’s a question I’ve dealt with for the last couple of weeks as I’ve slowly recovered from some nasty virus. My energy level has been non-existent and my enthusiasm flat-lined. At times I’ve felt so rotten from coughing and having my head throb that even sleeping was unpleasant.

You’ve been there; we’ve all been there. So what do you do?

You do what needs to be done. You choose the appropriate behavior in spite of the way you feel. Motivation isn’t entirely about how you feel about what you do. Successful people don’t let their feelings, physical or psychological, control their behavior. This is one of the great lessons of life. As the cliche goes: you do what you’ve got to do. What is often missing is this line: even when you don’t feel like it.

Years ago I heard a professional defined as someone who does his or her best, even when he or she doesn’t feel like it. It is a definition that has withstood the test of time.

When you’re sick, you might need to go to the doctor, even though you don’t feel like it because of the inconvenience. Maybe you need to take a nap and get some rest, even when there are other things you’d rather be doing. Rationally we know the quicker we get healthy, the better. Why do we often postpone doing what will help us restore health?

You might feel like complete crud, but choose to do the conference call because you said you would. You might need to explain why your voice sounds like it is coming from a bucket of tar, and then move forward. The kids still need to get dropped off at school, and the garbage still needs to be put out. So you do it.

If you’re like me, you also fight the urge to feel sorry for yourself. People get sick, and many get sicker than you or I do. One way to keep things in perspective is to change the focus from “Why do I feel rotten?” to “I’m sure glad I don’t feel this way often.”

One of the few things worse than being slowed down by feeling miserable or being miserable is letting those things unduly interrupt our lives. We can’t control the interruptions, but we can often minimize them if we choose to do so.

How? By doing what needs to be done, even when you just don’t feel like it.

April 16, 2007

When You’re Finished Learning…

Filed under: Professional Development, Motivation — Mark Sanborn @ 10:58 am

…you’re finished.

Formal education may end after high school or college, but there is not finish date for informal learning. The most effective leaders and the most successful people are those who have a personal program of study and growth. While random learning can be better than nothing, purposeful learning pays far bigger dividends.

Unquestionably I’ve learned more and greater things since I graduated from college. That doesn’t take anything away from my university education, but is proof of my belief, shared by many, that true learning is lifelong process.

March 18, 2007

Sometimes Cheaters Win

Filed under: Moral Leadership, Professional Development, Success, Motivation — Mark Sanborn @ 9:06 am

A friend and I were recently discussing a mutual acquaintance who had achieved a high level of visibility and success through dubious means. It brought to mind another individual who had made great amounts of money in ways that were legal but ethically suspect.

Who hasn’t been beaten out for a promotion by someone who was better at office politics that job performance, or been bypassed for deserved recognition that went to someone who didn’t deserve it? It can happen at any age.

What is one to make of these injustices and this unfairness?

Sometimes the cheaters win.

That much is apparent. By “winning” I’m leaving out the character and morality issues that most of us would say are included in an accurate definition of winning. By winning, I mean they get the prize, recognition, fame or fortune.

Asking “Why?” doesn’t help much. Here’s a better question, “Would I personally have been willing to win that way?”

If you’re not wired that way–if playing fairly and ethically is important to you–you shouldn’t be all that bothered by the cheaters who sometimes win. If you still buy into that antiquated idea that how you play the game is as important as the outcome, then don’t dwell very long on the supposed success of those who cheat.

If we can make the workplace, marketplace or community better and more just for others by helping to eliminate “cheating”, then by all means, let’s do it. In this case, I’m talking about the personal disappointments  and discouragements that my friend and I were discussing and experiencing. When I thought about it, I wouldn’t want the success or money that either person achieved if I had to do it the way they did it.

And that perspective was helpful consolation.

March 8, 2007

Internal Forces

Filed under: Success, Difference Makers, Motivation — Mark Sanborn @ 10:44 am

Orison Marden was one of the earliest American self-help writers. I am struck by this quote from him:

“Deep within humans dwell those slumbering powers; powers that would astonish them, that they never dreamed of possessing; forces that would revolutionize their lives if aroused and put into action.”

The challenge of extraordinary living is threefold. First, we must recognize and believe that we do have these “slumbering powers” within. Some people live unaware of their own potential, or believe external circumstances completely determine their success or lack of it.

Second, we must identify just what those powers are for each of us. While some of these potentialities are universal, others will be unique to the individual: his or her talents, desires and beliefs.

Third, once those powers have been identified they must be utilized or else they are only latent and of little or no benefit.

What are the compelling internal forces of your life? Have you thought about that lately, and are you using those powers consistently to live an extraordinary life?

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