Motivator

Motivation has as many applications as it has sources. Motivation to go to the gym for instance. It can come from the scale, an intervention about your diet coke addiction, or wanting to be a happy healthy individual for years to come.

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Motivation at work leads to the desired results for your supervisor and leadership. Work motivation comes from a variety of sources as well. Money, a promotion, excellence, or even the mission of your company are all good motivations. Making significant difference in the world can be an amazing motivator for many.

Your supervisor uses these motivators when they really need you to do something. They need something done and you are the person to do it. Your supervisor comes to you and pushes hard on the motivation button. They will quote the company’s mission and vision, offer you a raise, or promotion. Whatever your motivator is, they hit it, and hit it hard.

The major issue comes when your motivator is a negative motivator. Like the donkey motivated by a carrot on the stick, your supervisor or leadership come to you. They are not offering you more carrots, they have to motivate you by threatening to take the carrot away.

Good leaders try anything they can to motivate you. Good companies do anything they can to avoid negative motivators. And good employees never let it get that far. Good teammates get the task, project, or deliverable done because it is the right thing to do.

Motivated teammates are achieving results. Only in exceptional circumstances are they motivated an external motivator. Negative motivators are rarely used with good teammates, everyone has their bad days.

What motivates you? How do you stay motivated and deliver results even when you do not feel like it? How often does your supervisor use your motivators to motivate you? When was the last time your leadership used a positive motivator for you? When was the last time your leadership used a negative motivator for you?

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Intention

Every day I start with a very similar routine. I work out. I go to work. I make my coffee. I take care of the same tasks. Then I start with the variable week to week day to day and random odds and ends.

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My routine is consistent and regular. I need this routine because it starts me off in a productive consistent way. I check off some tasks that are easy. I knock off some low hanging fruit and it gives me some inertia for starting the day.

Every day I start my day in such a way I can propel myself to achieve more with the momentum to succeed and get more done. For me, starting my day with some easy tasks makes it easier to do the hard tasks later.

For other people, starting their day off with the hard tasks creates inertia. This inertia is enough to get things started.

No matter which flavor of starting your day you prefer, are you starting it with intention? Are you choosing how your day starts or are you letting your day control you? Are you taking control of what you can so you can be more effective in the things you do not control? How can you start your day in a more controlled manner?

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Alignment

Our cars’ tires must be aligned. They need to be set in such a way that they follow each other when they make turns. The front wheels turn in exact parallel motion. At the same time, and the back wheels are exactly parallel following the front wheels.

When our tires are out of alignment, there is extra stress on the car. The body, axles, wheels, and associated systems around the tires. The tires wear down quicker because the wear on the tires is more and different than it should be. And the real punch in the gut is the gas efficiency of the car goes down. Gas costs go up. The engine is working harder against the tires, and the tires are working against each other.

When what you believe and what you spend your does not line up. It is the same as four tires being out of alignment and working against each other. The engine is working extra hard to try and keep the car moving forward. You are working extra hard to make progress in your life. You are less efficient because you are out of alignment.

Likewise, when what you do lines up with what you believe.

And what you think lines up with what you do.

And believe and how you feel about the world lines up with what you think, do, and believe. Your efficiency is maximized and your impact is expanded.

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They call it alignment for a car.

I call it centered for people.

Centered is when you are working on what you love. Nobody is afraid to come talk to you. Your emotions are exactly where they should be day to day and week to week.

Centered is when you are working on what you know is the right. Nobody is avoiding you because you are going to talk down to them and explain away their ideas.

Centered is when you are working on the project you believe in. Your friends want to come talk to you because they know you and they know what you stand for.

Centered is when you are doing what needs to be done. You can stop to talk to someone and make progress in a healthy way.

Do the people closest to you describe you as centered? Do you know what it would look like to be centered in your life? How can you be more centered? Who can help you see the blind spots in your own centeredness? Are you thoughts, beliefs, actions, and emotions all in alignment? Do you feel like you are working just as a hard and not making progress? What do you think, believe, do, and feel about your work? About your family? About your friends? What do these people think, believe, do, and feel about you?

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Serendipity

Making progress in life has plenty of serendipity in it.

It is hard to ignore the fact that MySpace was on the decline when Facebook was in the midst of their pseudo grassroots rollout to colleges. Hard to ignore Apple’s immense success following the release of the iPhone when the market was struggling to figure out what a smartphone was going to be and Apple released the simplest solution to the problem.

The rest of the time, you are left to make success on your own. Waiting for markets to be right means you might never go to market. Whereas finding the right first customer will always make a sale.

There are few guarantees in finding the right customer. You have to pick your customers and sell to them. Over and over again you sell to them. There will be many customers not buying before your first customer buys. Some of them will not be ready. Others will not understand. And yet, some will still just be afraid.

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But after your first customer buys, you will sell to your second customer some time later.

Then your third a little less time later.

Never will you have your third customer without your first two.

Likewise, your fourth is not without your third.

Your continuing to sell is what will lead to the right moment. You continued to be who you are until you found your right customer.

Who is your right customer? What does it look like for you to sell the way you are not the way you think you should be? How can you try more often to spread the word about your work?

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Outsourcing

My mental health is my own to manage and no one else. I cannot outsource my mental health to anyone else. Given that I have no known chemical imbalances and do not suffer from any major life traumas, I am solely responsible for my own mental health.

Seeing a counselor helped me sort through some of my own thoughts, questions, perspectives, and ideas. But truly, my mental health was still my own to work through. I could not work on anything I was not willing to engage. I could not grow in any area I was not willing to assess and discuss and I could not improve if first I was not willing to admit an ability to be wrong in an area.

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Even still, at no point in my journey with a mental health professional was she responsible for my mental health. If I went off the deep end, nobody was going to be calling her. If I became a superstar, nobody was going to be questioning her about my accomplishments.

My friends are not responsible for my mental health. They can help me make good decisions and focus on the right priorities through their suggestions, pointed ideas, and willingness to have hard conversations with me.

Nobody was ever going to be calling them if I went off the deep end to get answers or calling them to credit them with a super success if I suddenly was achieving greater than I was ever achieving before.s

My mental health is my responsibility and I must focus on it and be conscious of it and be working on my mental health. It will not naturally improve on its own. It will always be improving or deteriorating. I must work to make sure I am involved in where it is going and not let it be influenced by unintentional factors.

I cannot outsource my mental healthcare.

You can outsource you car maintenance, housework, and even your meal planning. But you cannot outsource your mental healthcare.

How are you doing at self care? Are you paying attention to your mental state? Have you been generally grumpy lately? What emotion are you putting out to your friends and family? How are you doing at interacting with other people? Are your social skills up to the par they should be at? How is your mental health? What friend can help you assess your mental health?

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Customers

Your customers, the people you look in the hairy eyeball and meet their needs. They are your best advocates. These people know the quality of your work. They know your focus and attention to what matters. They know when they see you you will deliver to them exactly what they have come to expect from you.

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These customers know you and trust you. They are glad to see you and glad to have you be their person, worker, and friend.

Right?

Who are your customers (whether internal or external)? Who do you serve well? Who do you not serve well? How can you serve your customers better? What do you need to do to give your customers the best experience possible?

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FOIL

When I learned algebra, I was taught First Outside Inside Last as the order of operations. Today, when I type a formula into Google or a calculator, it then follows the rules to calculate the correct answer.

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Meanwhile, when I hand the same formula to a human, they will usually follow the rules as best they can. Fortunately for us both, I do not need very complicated formulas. Then again sometimes I will put the wrong formula together to try and find the information I need. Other times, I will be looking for the wrong information altogether. I will have the right answer to the wrong question.

Meanwhile, when working with people, they are not nearly as predictable and analogue as the calculator. Every interaction I have with a calculator has a limited number of reactions. Other people are not nearly as simple. Every interaction and micro-interaction has several reactions per person, and in some cases, there are several potential reactions based on the time of day, week, month, season, or year.

The calculator was designed with the same limitations. The designer of the calculator knew that various people would try and interact with it in different ways. They knew that some people would follow the rules and other people would type “01134” into it, turn it upside down, and show their friends that they made the calculator say “hEll0.”

I need to also design my interactions to be good, better, and the best for most people, most of the time. So whether I have someone trying to run a complex formula using the ‘Manning Interface Guidelines’ or someone who is trying to type “hEll0” I still provide the best experience in the interactions and micro-interactions I have.

When I am initiating an interaction, I need to make sure I am designing the interaction to be the best for the person I am interacting with. Present them with a genuine and positive interaction to give them the best opportunity for the best and most positive reaction.

How are you when someone interacts with you? Do you react well when someone tries to type “hEll0?” Do you try to set up other people to have the most opportunity for a positive reaction? Do you go into interactions looking for good ways to improve the best for others before it is good for you?

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Self Acceptance

Every day I wake up in the same set of skin and bones I was born with. I can change and develop who I am through work, both intentional and unintentional. But at the end of the day, I am always me.

One of the the many jobs I have is to appreciate me for who I am. In a reasonable way, be comfortable in the set of skin and bones I have. Accepting me for who I am, not over accentuating my flaws and strengths.

I know I can find the right point of appreciating myself for who I am. Not too confident and not too self-deprecating.

Not too many puns.

Not too nerdy.

Not too quiet.

Not too self conscience.

When I reach that point, what happens next?

I know I will reach the island of Perfect Self Acceptance. But what happens when it starts raining on my island? Or worse, I run out of food.

When I get to my Island, am I ready for the negative comment I hear, meant as a friendly joke? Am I prepared to let it roll off my back?

I know proper self acceptance is possible, but am I preparing for the next step of keeping healthy perspective on myself despite (un)expected negative circumstances?

What does your island of self acceptance look like? Are you ready for what it takes to maintain life on your island in the face of (un)expected negative circumstances?

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Assumptions

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I was pacing around the apartment for uninteresting reasons. As I paced I started finding a warm spot in the carpet.

Once I convinced myself I had not spilled warm liquid, my son had not drooled or peed, and the warm spot on the carpet was not about to spontaneously combust. I then decided that spot in the carpet was warm because of my pacing.

Obviously, I kept stepping in the exact same spot over and over again. The friction from my pacing then started to heat the spot, and only that spot, in the carpet. Then reality came crashing down.

The spot I kept stepping was warm because it was right next to the oil electric heater we had been running in the apartment.

This was a quick, 30 second, event. This is only a symptom of what I do all the time.

Convince myself of something completely inane using flawed logic leading to a crazy assumption.

What are you convincing yourself of? What is your thought process to get there? Where have you been using flawed logic? Who can help you sort out where you are using flawed logic?

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Chapstick

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I have never finished a stick of chapstick.

They have melted in the car or the drying machine. They have been lost in my regular routine and while traveling. I have accidentally thrown them away. And I have loaned them out and they were never returned.

As much as I would like to assume there is some creepy gnome out there with a hoard of partially used chapsticks, I am sure the issue is my ability to keep track of this little tube of lip balmy goodness.

What would it take do you think to finish a stick of chapstick? How much time, concentration, and routine would it take. Would it be the difference of buying some bulky Bluetooth tracker and then making sure it was in my vicinity at all times? Or maybe I need to take the gas station bathroom key approach and attach a one foot long piece of 2x4” to my chapstick.

In comparison, I have finished many sticks of deodorant. I do not struggle with losing them or misplacing them. They are always right where they need to be.

I use deodorant less than I use chapstick. I use chapstick multiple times a day but deodorant, for better or worse, only once a day. Why then do I struggle with losing one but not the other? They are both similarly important. They both require me to be consistent and careful about putting them away in the same place And still. I continually lose one but not the other.

How many other things in my life are like this? How many other things could easily be more useful if I was more careful and attentive to them? What other details am I missing or losing because I am not being careful enough?

How many relationships are you as careful with as you are your deodorant?

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Production

I started school in a kindergarten, much like many of my peers. We went to kindergarten, some even had the privilege of going to a pre-kindergarten environment. After that we had the pleasure of working our way through first grade right on up through twelfth grade progressing from an elementary school to a middle school or junior high, and then culminating our early education with high school.

Like clockwork, we showed up at the allotted time. Each time we graduated to the next school, we would start waking up and showing up earlier and earlier to accommodate the limited supply of busses our given school districts had.

In accordance with our teachers we would do enough work to graduate to the next grade, thus proving we had learned everything we needed from the previous grade. At some point we even began to have a little bit of a say in what classes we were showing up to.

By the time we’re in our late teens. The system spits us out, ready for the the final step, college.

When we graduate college we are then fully educated for adulthood. Class after class graduates with degrees.

Post graduation is a chaos induced bucket of ambiguity. No more rails to follow.

What are you trying to produce? What is your metric for success? Is what you are trying to produce actually what needs to be produced? Is your final product actually designed to be successful?

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Well Balanced Diet

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We have all heard it before, you are what you eat. Over consume alcohol or candy or bread or beef, and you will see a difference in yourself and it will be reflected in your health. Eat a good balanced healthy diet and your body will reflect it.

Likewise, you are what you eat. Watch a strict diet of dark angry movies and tv shows, you will see it in your attitude. Constantly watch popular news and digest their firehose of angry news, you will see it reflected in your personality.

How is a bad movie going to effect you any different than eating a half an apple pie in one sitting? Maybe you went the extra mile and ate the pie while watching the bad movie. You know what you can handle. You know yourself. I know myself. I know what I can handle.

The same way I have to pay attention to what I eat and how I am taking care of my body and what I am taking in. I have to watch my social media, movies, news, and tv shows to make sure I am not overeating bad media.

It is all equally available. The internet is a flattened landscape, for now, and we can only blame ourselves for finding bad media to suck down like it is going out of style.

What makes it onto your tv? What makes it onto your phone screen? What makes it onto your computer screen? Do you want to be more or less like what you are putting on your screens? Do you want to have friends who are emulating what you are putting on your screens?

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Less

We all have a lot to do. We have task lists, job descriptions, grocery lists, and bills to pay. There is no lack of things to do. Even when we sit down to relax, there are plenty of things fighting for our time and attention.

When these things creep into our lives, we obviously let them into our mental space. The first few odds and ends creep in, no big deal. Over time, more and more of these things creep. They go from one or two things to being a few things here, a few things there. A couple nice things for this every week or two and three or four good things for that. These things take over.

These extras take over. We are not doing what we set out to do. Our focus is lost to all of these non-essentials taking over. In no time flat, our entire task list is filled with tasks we would not dedicate our lives to completing.

Because we are doing so many things, we cannot do anything well. We can only skate by doing a mediocre job a so very many different tasks and projects. We would do better if we could. But there are not enough hours in the day.

What are your priorities? What are you saying yes to doing? What are you saying no to doing? What are you not doing as well as you could? Does your task list match your priorities?

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Goals

During 2016 I tried to focus on three main goals in everything I did. I described these things as Grit, Push, and Vision.

Grit, or sticking with something longer than I wanted to stick with them.

Push, pressing through the barriers and roadblocks I encounter in life.

Vision, developing some sort of direction or goals for myself.

I would probably give myself a 3 out of 5 on these. I tried, did not master anything, but definitely showed up. I am pretty sure I am being generous saying 3 out of 5 at that.

However, I learned from them. Vision brought me a sense of knowing what success would look like. I have no idea what I am trying to accomplish unless I have a vision for what success looks like.

I will not succeed unless I push through the barriers I encounter.

I will never accomplish anything unless I keep following my processes even when I do not feel like it.

It took me writing it out to realize ‘push’ and ‘grit’ are the same thing. I guess I should have written out my vision for what each of those mean. sigh

However, 2017 is a new year.

2017 is a year to actually take ground.

The year I write down what my vision is, define what push means, and really reflect on what a third goal would be if there is one.

Where are you trying to grow? How are you trying to develop yourself? How will you know if you are successful in developing in these areas? Who is going to help you grow in these areas?

Clarifying,

–JT

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Good Job

Telling someone they have done a good job is very encouraging. I like telling people they have done a good job. I like being told I have done a good job. I especially like telling someone they have done a good job after they have done a good job.

At this point in time, I am done telling people they have done a good job. I have recently discovered how pointless it is. It is the emptiest compliment I can give someone after they have done a good job. I need to tell them what makes what their work categorically, ‘good.’

Telling a friend they did a good job after they do me a favor or make me a gift, it is an empty compliment, lost in translation. Whereas, telling them they did a good job because of their timeliness in helping with a project or pointing out how their gift has value to me and showing them they did a good job because of a specific aspect, worth more than I can ever imagine. Worth more to me and others, than I could ever imagine.

I want to bring value to the people around me and telling them how they did a good job or what they did that triggers for me a reaction of ‘good job’ takes way more than just saying good job. It takes the effort of telling them what they did that was a good job.

How do you tell people they have done a good job?

Specifically,

–JT

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Backpack

Recently, I sat in an airport for longer than I would like to admit. I was waiting for a plane to decide whether or not it had the visibility to land. As we were all waiting, a couple of ladies started getting to know one another. I of course had nothing better to do than ‘drop some eaves’ as I was waiting. 

One of their discussion topics was the younger lady’s backpack. She loves her backpack. She enjoys everything about it and it has a lifetime warranty and she has had it repaired a few time and it works well and she truly wants it to be her only backpack for the rest of her life. 

The manufacturer has discontinued the make and model of her backpack. She previously would send it in for repairs and they would send her a new backpack or a refurbished backpack in the event her backpack needed to be replaced

Since they have now discontinued her backpack, they have to repair her backpack whenever she sends it in. This is ok with her, but what if she is unable to get it repaired at some point. One of her zippers is especially troublesome and might not survive. There is much to be concerned about as she described her backpack woes. 

I listened on and reflected about her story and realized I do the same thing she was doing. I get overly concerned about a niche product. I get overly zeroed in on the one detail I care about and lose the rest of the picture. 

A backpack is not this big of a deal. 

My favorite roast of coffee at Starbucks.

The restaurant discontinuing my favorite dish because it was unpopular.

Whether someone takes a photo or video horizontal is not that big of a deal.

There are things in life that are a big deal. They warrant fretting and consternation. There are things in life I can fight for and belabor the point on and do some good in the world. I should be concerned about the health, safety, and betterment of myself and the people around me. I should belabor those points.

I should be concerned about the thing that will effect my life in twenty years. I cannot let myself get so lost in the minutiae of the accouterments in my life.

What are your minutiae? Do you fuss over the long term as much as you do the accouterments?

Longterm,

–JT

Breathe

Stop, Take a deep breath, rinse and repeat. 

Today is Christmas Eve. It isn’t like I don’t have enough other thing going on. There are things to do with family, friends, rushing around, and of course last minute shopping. The worst part about last minute shopping is it is always followed up by last minute wrapping. I would argue that last minute wrapping is the number one reason men are so bad at wrapping gifts. 

Today of all days is the day I need to stop, take a deep breath, and remember why I’m doing anything I’m doing.

Why am I so worried about gifts?

Why am I so busy with family?

Why am I spending so much time with friends? 

Why. WHY. WHY!? 

These are the people I value most. So before I get snarky with them because I’m tired and I don’t want to be running like I am. I need to stop, breathe and focus on what I hold most important. And, if these things I’m trying to do are truly an inhibitor for me to connect and prioritize those people. Time to skip these priorities. The reality is, in twenty years, nobody is going to remember what I got them for Christmas. Everyone will remember how I treated them. How are you showing the most important people in your life that they are a priority to you?

Reprioritizing,

–JT