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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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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Progress

Progress.

I’m not one much for resolutions. I like the idea of themes and red threads to guide actions. I like the idea of having a lens for filtering decisions and taking actions. I like the idea of identifying the movement already going on in my and maximizing that movement to help me develop the changes I need to be a better person.

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The last theme I had was focus. I make these themes not as a short term decision but as a habit forming decision. I choose the theme based on what I need in my life and the movements I am already seeing in my life. I have felt myself fishtailing a bit as I have been traveling along. Whether I have been going too fast for road conditions or dodging too many obstacles I knew were coming. I have also felt myself making progress in some areas of life.

I know I am in a transition where ‘progress’ is the next step. Intentional, measured, regular, and focused progress. I’ve already started taking some steps. I’ll continue to take these steps and take more steps. This theme is starting now and will really pick up in the next few months.

Whether you’re choosing one resolution, a few resolutions, a theme, or nothing at all. Write it down somewhere you’ll see it every day. Make it your phone’s background. Make it your desktop background. Put a note on your dashboard you can’t miss.

Your change starts with you. Your change happens with one or two people who are going to help you stay accountable. Your change happens when you measure the progress and intentionally choose the difference.

I am who I am today because of the decisions I have already made. The habits I have today are what they are because I have needed them. My movement of late has been progress. I have been making progress and I can see places where I need to make more progress.

Who is going to help you? What change are you making? How will you measure the difference?

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The Underbelly

I recently ran into this graphic of what it is like to work on a project. How you spend all this time in the underbelly of the project or system, and so little time actually engaging what is going on.

The hot, new, sexy thing is on top. Meanwhile, the whole rest of the project is the seventy percent of the iceberg you cannot see and it can sink your boat. Everyone wants the top of the iceberg, nobody want to spend the time building the bottom of the iceberg where all the work is.

The part of the iceberg where you are drowning because of the anxiety of the enormity of the project you are working on.

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The part where you want to give up.

The part where you are not sure how you are going to afford to pay your bills and keep going.

The part of a project, process, or story where everyone is most engaged and involved is in the underbelly. The start of the project is happy and easy and nobody seems to care. The end of the project is the obvious conclusion of what everyone expected.

The underbelly is where everything gets interesting.

Are you really going to give up now that things are finally interesting? How do you keep your goal and end in sight while you are in the underbelly of the story? What did you do the last time you encountered the underbelly of a project? How are you preparing for the underbelly of the next project?

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No Way

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In improvisational theater they have a rule of thumb. When another player on stage does something, you always say, ‘Yes.’

Occasionally the new idea is at odds with the direction of the improvisational scene and then the players have to act on the Rule of Yes. Their tool of action is to say, ‘Yes and...’ With ‘yes and’ they can move the scene forward in a meaningful, often hilarious way, and engage one another. The scene becomes more because the players on stage are saying, ‘Yes and...’ and the scene is moving forward. Constantly being added to.

The scene grows with each passing action, line, and move. The players deftly navigate a scene about deep sea fishing to battling an ancient leviathan with QTip swords and armor made of canned tuna.

At work, how much more limited are you? Can you really not participate in that new project or are you saying, ‘No’ because you don’t like the project? Can you be a part of the project and add meaning to it rather than nay say and shame it? When your family wants to go on a crazy vacation, do you shoot it down because it is out of the ordinary? When a friend calls you about a new project, do you say ‘yes and...’ or make excuses for why you cant?

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Right Weather

When Space X goes to launch a rocket, they have to wait for the right weather. Too windy, and the mission is pushed off until the next forecasted opportunity. Too much rain or too overcast, rescheduled.

There are a variety of reasons one of their launch dates for rockets headed to space will get scrapped. After all, they have to be careful. One of those things tips over or launches wrong, all of a sudden peoples’ lives are at risk. Not just a few people, probably a lot of people.

Can you imagine that much rocket fuel igniting all at once?

I am sure the reason you have not started your next project is equally as difficult. You need the right weather. Probably need better work conditions before you can start that next project at work. The house, garage, yard, and car all need to be cleaned before you can start the side project you have been dreaming about.

Definitely keep rescheduling, I mean you did not start publishing on YouTube five years ago, so you are behind anyways. You did not start writing your blog or book or short story when you first had the idea, you might as well put it off again.

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Then again, if you started today, who knows where you will be in five years. The house, garage, yard, and car will all need to be cleaned no matter what. Why not do something you are excited about now and work on that stuff when you are tired. If you wait, you will be too tired anyways.

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Success

The feeling of cooking the perfect dinner.

The accolade after acing a geometry test.

The joy of finishing an intricate puzzle.

The feeling of success is wonderful. A sort of euphoria induce by brain chemistry and psychology.

It also puts a filter on life. It clouds our judgement from seeing another way to do things. After landing a big sale, we try to do it again the same way we did it before. After building a company that out performs the market, we try to do it again and again using a recipe.

The results of our repeated efforts are rarely the same when reapplied to the same venue. Kodak was once their market leader. and now they are in shambles. Blockbuster pretty much had the corner on the movie rental market. Blackberry not only had the corner on the smartphone market. They were the very best at mobile email.

These companies were not put out of business by a competitor. They were put out of business by the evolution of their products.

Instagram is the evolution of Kodak. Why print our favorite photos? We can only see them when we have them with us or someone is at our house. Now we can have all my favorite photo in our pockets all the time.

Netflix and Redbox put Blockbuster out of business. Blockbuster wanted us to come to their hut to rent their movies. Netflix wants to come to our house to loan us their movies and Redbox wants us to snag a movie from them when convenient for however long is convenient.

These companies were the evolution of their predecessors. Their predecessors were put out of business by the next logical evolution. The predecessor is predisposed to thinking they already have it right. They cannot see the next evolution of their business because they are so focused on iterating on the product they have and resuscitating the old business every way they can.

What has been your biggest success? Since your first success in this area, how has the world changed? How would you repeat your biggest success today?

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Plateaus

I have been thinking a lot about plateaus. A plateau on a graph, not the geological formation. The geological formation, though beautiful at times and impressive in size and shape, does not resonate with me in same way as a plateau on a graph.

The plateau on a graph has an upward slope into it. Then it levels off for a little bit. Then it rises again. However, if my x axis is time and my y axis is growth, then when my growth line pauses and becomes parallel to the x axis, I have plateaued.

Time does not stop because I have stopped growing. Time will drag me along no matter what I do.

The best reference I can find is the Golden Gate Bridge, a giant undertaking and enormous structure. A structure taking from January 1933 to April 1937 to build, four years of someone’s life was spent building it. However, the story of the bridge started in 1916.

A project almost twenty years in the making. After it was built, the instigator of it all. The engineer who fought and struggled to bring it to fruition, he passed away in 1938.

He spent from 1916 to 1933 working to bring the project to life and only enjoyed the bridge for a little over a year before passing away.

When the engineer encountered the opportunity of building the Golden Gate Bridge, it was all he worked on for the rest of his life. He worked on a project of significance, but it was all he did for his life. It marks the San Francisco Bay area, but it also defined his life, and he was barely there to enjoy it.

What are you working to do? When do you step back to enjoy the work you are doing? When do you stop to enjoy life around you? How are you growing with time? Is the work you are doing now the work you want to define the rest of your life? Who is helping you find where to go next?

X & Y,

–JT

Afraid of the Dark

A great leader once said, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” These words may or may not be completely true. But I do believe there is power in fear. It is paralyzing. Fear makes me anxious. Fear makes me not want to do things because the possibility of failure. Sometimes I have even been fearful at the thought of succeeding. Either way, fear still lingers. 

Lately, I have been in many situations where I find myself afraid of what is coming. I am afraid to step up. Afraid to do something new. Afraid to fill shoes bigger than my old shoes. Generally, fearful of what is going on. The crazy part about being so afraid and fearful of what I am doing is,

I have been loving it and hating it at the same time.

I have been doing new things, trying new things, and getting out of my comfort zone and it has been going well. I have been reminded of a truth I once new. If I’m not doing something I am afraid of, I am probably not growing. This phrase is true, not universally true, but it is truth for me  and healthy for now. There are rare times or seasons where I am maybe not doing anything new but there is still some fear in me. 

The core still remains, doing new things often comes with a fair amount of fear. It is good for me to do things I’m afraid of. 

I think I am growing and succeeding because I am facing down my fears. 

The biggest fear I have been facing is my fear of failure. A fear I now call, a fear of learning.

Where is fear keeping you from taking a step out? Where are you letting fear rule you?

Fearfully,

–JT