Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cycle of Motivation

Motivation is one of the great paradoxes of life.  You need it to do it, but to do it you need it.

Through my interaction with people at all levels of leadership, I would have to say that motivation would be one of the most elusive qualities of leadership

I have worked with people who possess a high level of self-motivation, others who require constant motivation from external sources, those who have lost their will to motivate or be motivated; and then there are those who can’t be motivated, even with a stick of dynamite.

Well, I’m one of those annoying people who never seem to lack motivation, to the point of exhausting every one else around me.  As a teenager doing casual work during school holidays, my boss used to say to me “Slow down Robert, or we’ll run out of work for you to do.”  In the early years of my Drafting traineeship, I managed to juggle 3 hours of travelling a day on public transport, full-time employment, night school, study and leadership responsibilities at my church.  During my two years at Officer Training College, the Training Principal encouraged me to enrol in external studies alongside my Salvation Army Officer Training to feed my insatiable motivation to learn.  Throughout my ministry my motivation has only intensified as I have found my niche in fulfilling God’s calling on my life.   And as a parent, what can I say, God saw fit to bless us with twins…need I say more?

Yet, despite my type-A personality and overstimulated motivation, there are always areas of my personal life, elements of my ministry or responsibilities at home where I would fail the self-motivation test.  In some circumstances I too need to be motivated by external sources and there are even rarer occasions where I lack motivation altogether.

Even though I am naturally a highly motivated person and as a leader it is my desire to motivate and develop other leaders, this has been one of those qualities that I have struggled to articulate or transfer well.  People have been inspired by my self-motivation, but when I’m asked about ‘what motivates me?’ or ‘how do I stay motivated?’ I have been unable to offer any tangible principles or practices beyond sharing my own experiences.   This has frustrated me and I’m certain it has discouraged those who are trying to get motivated or stay motivated.

Leadership development is my passion and I read everything I can get my hands on about leadership, but to-date, motivation has still remained a rather elusive subject.  We have all heard “motivational speakers”, but it is the mechanics of motivation that have remained a mystery to me until I heard John Maxwell (a leading leadership author and teacher) make a single statement about motivation in one of his teaching resources.  It was one of those “aha” moments that inspired me to develop this leadership resource on motivation.  In a video session from his “Developing the Leaders Around You” series, Maxwell quoted someone as saying, “Forget motivation, just do it!  Do it without motivation and then after you start doing the thing, that’s when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it.”

It occurred to me that the beginning of motivation lies in a decision:  A decision for change, a decision for an alternative reality, a decision to think, do or be different!  When I applied this theory to areas of my life where I have demonstrated a high level of motivation, all of a sudden this elusive quality that I have found difficult to define began to make sense.  Take for example my weight loss success.  Why is it that after 10 years of being overweight and physically inactive that all of sudden I “find motivation” to change my lifestyle?  The truth is I didn’t, motivation didn’t just miraculously appear!  A series of events prompted a decision to respond to the realisation that I was no longer content with the way I was and something had to change.  That decision was followed by an action, which led to a change of behaviour.  I resolved to do things different, so as to produce a different result.  These results generated a new found energy, inspiring me to maintain this process until I achieved the desired outcome.  Motivation was not found, but generated by a cycle of behaviours that began with a point of decision.  Motivation then became the force that empowered me to transform a desire into a life changing reality!

This pattern, when applied to other areas of my life, including work responsibilities, family life, study pursuits, and spiritual development, revealed a remarkable degree of consistency in its application.  In each instance the process of decision, action, results and energy were key components in the cycle of motivation.  It is from this understanding and application of the mechanics of motivation that I have developed the ‘Cycle of Motivation’ model as a tool to help people get motivated and stay motivated.

Contact Major Robert Evans at EphesiansFour12@gmail.com for more information and training opportunities for the "Cycle of Motivation" model.

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