Grow Wings and Fly: How to Motivate Your World

Andrea Nierenberg

"The boss doesn’t listen to my ideas." "I need to be inspired and nobody is encouraging me." "The ‘energy level’ at work is at a low." Have any of these thoughts ever crossed your mind? The answers can be found in motivating others and yourself.

We live in a diverse world where people who are motivated differently. The differences in our cultures, lifestyles, skills, and talents can challenge us. However, when we take the time and effort to learn what motivates other people, it can be a very rewarding experience.

Imagine the joy you will receive when someone says to you, "Thanks, you inspired me. What you said to me and did for me makes my job a pleasure." Does it take magic to get that type of response? No, it takes an attitude of creating a motivated environment.

Helen Keller wrote, "One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar." Read on to discover how you can "grow wings and fly."

Let's start with ourselves. We all motivate ourselves to some extent in our own way. For example, take a photo of your dream house, or imagine earning the income you desire. Whatever it is, write it down, commit to it, and make it your "dream wish list." It has been said that, "A goal is nothing more than a dream with a deadline," so set some now. Motivation, like the road to success, is always under construction. Remember that the thoughts, images, and attitudes we hold in our minds today predict what our life will look like tomorrow.

Here are six action steps you can put to work in your life today. After you've read through the list, pick one step, put it into action, and watch your self-motivation grow:

1. Knowledge is power.
Learn all that you can. Read everything that is available to you. Be especially diligent in reading about those things that interest you most. Keep expanding your mind, and use the most current resources. So hop on the "information highway" and enjoy the ride.

2. Become the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of your life.
It’s the only life you can control. Most businesses can only succeed when they have a mission statement and a plan. Create a mission statement for your life that includes what you strive to accomplish, both personally and professionally. For example, you might want to be known as the person who’s the best at completing a particular task as work. Or, in a social setting, you may wish to be the person who successfully plans group outings. Whatever they are, write down your missions in life, as well as how you plan to achieve them.

3. Think of yourself as a product.
If you were in the "grocery store of life," why would someone choose you? What are you doing to keep yourself new and improved? How are you repackaging yourself? You can have fun working on this idea. Start reinventing yourself and ask for suggestions from those around you. Look for ways to improve physically and mentally.

4. Create a marketing plan for your life.
Market yourself with a vision of how other people will see you in the best possible light. Create a road map that will lead to your ideal job or social environment. Remember, if we don't know where we're going, any road can take us there, or as Lily Tomlin once said, "I’ve always wanted to be somebody, but now I see I should have been more specific."

5. Network.
We can learn to enjoy improving our personal "world wide web." This can be done by "connecting" with work contacts, friends, and people we meet throughout our life. For example, a diversified environment could give you more opportunities to network. One way to engage others from different backgrounds is to ask questions such as, "how does your culture view work time verses personal time?" or "What do you think people often misunderstand about your ethnic group?" In any case, be proactive and introduce yourself to new people. Always follow-up with those people with whom you want to stay in touch, in order to help create long-term relationships.

6. Recognize your self-worth.
Think of your accomplishments that make you feel good about yourself. Keep these thoughts fresh in your memory. Remember, besides your past achievements, there will be literally thousands of success stories in your life that are yet to be written.

Now, stop for a minute and ask yourself:

  • What motivates you?

  • What causes you to react positively or negatively?

  • What are your gifts and talents?

  • What kinds of people do you enjoy most?

  • How can you change your life in order to experience more joy?

Sometimes it feels like we’re in a race to keep up with the world. Therefore, work to keep your "engine" tuned up, have fun with your journey over "hills" and around "pot holes," and take in the peaceful views of creation all around you.

Now that we're on the road to a higher awareness of self-motivation, how can we inspire other people? Notice that I said "inspire," rather than "motivate." Keep in mind that the only person you can truly motivate is yourself. With other people, your goal is to inspire them in such a way that they discover how to become self-motivated.

You might say to yourself, "How can I exert the type of positive influence that can change people’s lives?" The good news is that you do not need a degree in psychology to motivate people around you. Here are some suggestions to make the people in your environment more congenial:

1. We're all tuned into our own radio station, which is WII-FM --What's In It For Me.
There's another one that we also tune into: MMFI-AM--Make Me Feel Important About Me. People around you need to know that you care about their needs. Take the time to find out what you can do to give other people positive reinforcement.

2. Develop better relationships with others.
Wait for the right time to approach people about an issue. Be patient and take the time to learn about the moods and personalities of the people around you. Your goal is to make mutually rewarding connections with others. For example, visualize what you'd like to see come out of a future encounter. Go one step further, and write down the step you can take to have pleasant experiences with others. This may seem like a lot of work at first. However, once you develop your strategy and plan, subsequent encounters will be easier. Just remember that each person is unique.

3. Listen to people actively and without judgment.
Yes, you can really inspire people by listening to them carefully. When you do, It's one of the highest compliments you can give people. For example, listen carefully when people talk about their favorite subject -- themselves. And when you take the time to listen and absorb what people say, you might just find out what motivates them. On the other hand, even when you disagree with what people are saying, just keep listening without interrupting them. It says, "You're important and what you have to say is of significance." It’s simply human nature, we all want to work and associate with people who make us feel important. I once heard someone say, "All successful people have teeth marks on their tongues."

4. A sincere word of thanks.
Delivering a compliment, a note of congratulations, or a small gift to recognize an achievement can mean "the world" to people. Part of the power here comes from taking the time to notice something that meant a great deal to other people and recognizing their success.

5. Give people the credit that is due.
When you’re applauded for a job well done, share the credit with other people. A secure person can do this and realize that the net result will be to inspire the people around you. When we give others credit, we might see their attitude toward us improve. Even if others are already good workers, now they'll make greater efforts for us, and continue to go the extra mile. To make this work, be specific in your appreciation. Make your comment meaningful and qualitative. For example, instead of saying, "You really helped me out a lot," say, "Your help allowed me to meet the impossible deadline on Friday." Remember, what gets rewarded gets repeated.

6. Become a "Socrates" junior.
As you may know, Socrates was one of the world's greatest philosophers. Many of his ideas still work today, after almost 2000 years. He never told people that they were wrong. Instead, he would ask others questions with which they would have to agree. He wanted to encourage positive answers, because he knew that people would feel better when they agreed. In the same way, when you get other people to say yes and agree with you, everyone will benefit.

7. Create competition.
Give people the opportunity to excel in their work. Challenge them to come up with a better way to solve mutual problems. And when they do come up with a solution, reward them. Be creative. For example, find fun ways to hold out a "carrot." Offer to bring in "treats" for everyone if a particular assignment is completed early. When you do this, the word will get around about how you inspire people.

To encourage you to test out this information, think of a person you'd like to inspire. Go back and review the techniques in this article, and apply them to that person.

A Self-Motivation Quiz and Action Steps

1. What do you think limits your success?
Write it down, then next to it, write down the keys you have to remove those limitations.

2. What doubts and fears do you have?
99% of what we fear will never happen in our lives. Review your concerns, recognize the real ones, and discard the ones that are only in your mind.

3. Do you resist change?
Think of a time in your life when a change took place and the outcome gave you tremendous joy. Now imagine what future changes could give you the same kind of pleasure.

4. How do you visualize success?
Write down the step you need to take in order to succeed. Now, read it and watch it play out in your mind.

5. How are you able to put your past behind you?
There’s an expression that says, "Keep the best, and throw out the rest." If there is something in your past that discourages you, get rid of it. Remember, we should be storing up treasures to last forever -- not piles of garbage.
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Andrea Nierenberg provides customized programs for sales training, customer service, and presentation skills. You can learn more about her advice at www.selfmarketing.com. Andrea is also the author of Nonstop Networking: How to Improve Your life, Luck, and Career. She can be reached at andrean@self marketing.com or at 212-980-0930.

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