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Leadership Thought #279 – Be Mindful About What Motivates You


People are motivated by all types of things and leaders are no different.  There are always a few major drivers in an individual’s life that prompt action and focus our activities.  Many of these motivators are formed in childhood or young adulthood.   They can be good or bad or some degree of both.  My personal contention is that living at the far end of any motivational continuum isn’t too healthy.  I also believe that what drives you also has a big impact on the formation of your character and your values.  We do tend to embody our priorities over time.

I know people who have a burning desire to change the world and make it a better place.  They are usually fighting some sort of injustice or social wrong they believe needs to be corrected.  They have a hard time turning this mindset off and taking a break from it because it is how they are hardwired.  There view is that there is always another battle to be fought. They can be very impatient and unrealistic about progress.  More often than not this intensity was formed through either direct or indirect personal experience of a significant event.  They tend to be empathetic almost to a fault.

I know other people who are completely driven by money.  They are constantly keeping score of how much they have and how much more they want.  Material things are very important to them.  Their belief is that wealth is the best way to keep score in life.  When your focus is always of generating more, sadly you never seem to feel like you have enough and the pleasures of success can feel fleeting.  I find that this perspective is held by people who at one point felt inferior because of humble beginnings and a sense of scarcity growing up.  They usually have very little sympathy for people who don’t share a similar view. 

I use the above two examples for a reason.  The world needs people who want to make it a better place and also people who want to be successful and generate wealth.  And, unfortunately these two types of people are regularly in conflict with and judgmental of one another.  I could argue that both types of individuals taken to an extreme become problematic and make it difficult for the other people in their life.   You can be too empathetic and you can want too much.  However, if they both learn to modulate their behavior in a more positive fashion and respect one another more, great things can happen between and because of them.

We all need to be honest with ourselves about what motivates us and the cost/benefit of this behavior.  Are our actions inspired by positive thoughts or negative ones?   Are the results we are getting worthwhile and fruitful or uninspiring and ephemeral?  Are we getting closer to where we want to be or further away from it?  What is the impact of our behavior on those closest to us?  Are we setting a good example?  How would we feel if we were our own boss, spouse, parent or friend?  Be ever mindful of what drives you and the true level of happiness and fulfillment in your life. 

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