Many years ago, I attended a professional workshop led by a woman who ran her own communications agency. During the event, she admitted to putting in some long hours for her business. Someone in the group asked, “Do you mind working longer hours? Is it worth it to have your own business?” The woman replied, “I love what I do, so I don’t mind working longer hours.”
She is one of the lucky people who found a career that they were passionate about. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all find that passion?
But not everyone is as lucky as this business owner. Most of us strive each day to find the drive to keep going, keep searching, and keep reaching for our goals. For many of us, just waking up and getting out of bed in the morning is a major achievement.
As I watched the Summer Olympics in Rio few weeks ago, I was struck by the notion of performing our best when there isn’t a whole lot expected of you. With more than 10,000 athletes participating in the Summer Games, only a handful were expected to contend for a medal. How do you compete when you know you probably won’t win? How do you motivate yourself to stay positive, to keep going, to keep driving towards the finish line?
Consider the performance of Oksana Chusovitina, the 41-year old gymnast from the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, who appeared at her seventh Olympic Games. She competed only in the vault contest and was not expected to medal, but she was thrilled to participate because she loved the sport of gymnastics so much.
Finding that one thing you love so much, that you are so passionate about, is the key to staying motivated. When you love what you do, you are more willing to make sacrifices to achieve your goals. When you love what you do, time stands still, and you find yourself living in the moment. When you love what you do, working longer hours is never an issue.
Sometimes motivation is driven by an inner goal that you set for yourself, one that is not obvious to others. It’s not necessarily about winning the race as it is about finishing it. Finishing the race is as much an accomplishment as winning. You know you’ve found your motivation, your passion when your brain is on fire with ideas and your heart is wholly engaged.
So whether you are a manager, a writer or an athlete, ask yourself today, “What is my motivation? What keeps me motivated to perform my best?”
It could be the love of your family that drives your performance. It could be the desire to one day publish a book or get a byline in a magazine. Or it could be the satisfaction of seeing others that you coach achieve their best.
More important, ask yourself “How do I perform when there isn’t a lot expected of me, when I’m not expected to win a prize or be the best? How do I perform when I don’t expect a lot from myself?”
If you don’t expect the best from yourself, how will others expect the best from you? And how will you be able to perform your best if you don’t believe in yourself? Belief in yourself is the most powerful motivation. Believe in yourself, and others will believe in you too.