Let’s face it – we all have days when we wake up and just aren’t feeling it. We’re just not sure how we can motivate ourselves to get moving and do what needs to be done. Sometimes we may give into that feeling; decide to take a mental health day and take care of ourselves or veg out on the couch. But what if opting out isn’t an option; someone else is depending on us or there is some big task to accomplish? And what if you’re a leader – setting the example for others? While it is completely normal to have times in our lives when we are down and lack motivation, sometimes we must be motivational to others when we don’t even feel motivated ourselves.
We are ALL leaders. Someone looks to us for guidance even if we don’t lead an organization (family, friends, colleagues, etc.). The core definition of leadership is the act of providing direction or guidance, but it is much more than that. Leadership also is the art of inspiring someone to action. So, how can we inspire others if we can’t even motivate ourselves?
As leaders we are always on stage. I remember one particular stage when I was leading an important project. We had a pivotal meeting scheduled and my energy was zapped. I had been working long hours, the end goal was far away, and we weren’t making the progress we needed.But I knew I had to reach deep and be a leader, because people see how we show up and how we lead, not just in the times when we are excited and energized about the work, but also in the tough times or when our energy is low. Everyone in that room would notice whether my actions matched my words. That was scary because I needed everyone to walk away from the meeting with a clear decision and path forward. Since we are all leaders, and we have low times as well as high times it is really important to be able to motivate others regardless of where we are in our own energy cycle.
Throughout my life I have experienced the cyclical nature of motivation and inspiration, up one day, down the next, especially during stressful times (like now, with a global pandemic). Here are five tips I have used to help me tap into motivation.
1) Alignment: I remind myself why I am doing what I am doing and what the end goal looks like,the larger purpose. I also remind myself how that purpose connects with my personal values. If I am in alignment with my values and my why, then the flame of motivation stays lit. It’s even better if I am working with others towards a common goal. Working together in alignment towards a larger purpose is motivational by itself and remembering that someone is depending on me to lead, motivates me to set an example. Being motivated motivates others.
2) Gratitude: Being grateful can get me out of a motivational slump faster than almost anything else. Often, I will take a walk outside (on abeach if possible since that is my happy place) and make note of everything I appreciate. Even if I can’t get out in nature for a break, I try to take a moment to breathe and to note what I am grateful for in my life. Seeking inspiration in this way is a real motivator.
3) Believe: The phrase “fake it till you make it” has been widely used, but I use it to motivate myself, especially when I know others are counting on me. I take a deep breath and purposely smile when I feel like frowning. I wear a power color and attire that I feel great in so that the energy will motivate me. I also act like I am inspired and motivated about something, because subconsciously that triggers me to be inspired and motivated! The feeling is contagious to those around me too.
4) Positivity: It is okay to not feel motivated or to feel pessimistic. We will all have those times, and we can’t escape them or wish them away but when I find myself there, I remember to scan my thoughts and feelings. What is coming up for me in that moment? I acknowledge my thoughts and feelings without judging them. Then I try to find at least three positive things about the situation. Taking this moment to acknowledge my thoughts and feelings, and then focusing on the positive helps me get my motivation back. Another way that I use positivity for motivation is complementing others. I find something positive to point out about that person (their positive attitude, their contributions etc.). Complementing someone is a win-win, positive for them and for me.
5) Integrity: Others see our actions and whether we “walk the talk” as leaders. Even when someone doesn’t agree with something we’ve done or some decision we have made, if they can see that we acted with integrity, that we did what we said we would do, they will be more apt to admire that than if we acted or decided without integrity. They will be motivated by the demonstration of integrity even if they disagree with the outcome.
Back to that meeting room, I don’t specifically remember exactly how I moved past that slump, but I do remember what my colleague said to me after the meeting. That they respected how I lead the meeting and got everyone aligned. The bottom line is that you will inspire and motivate others by being inspired and motivated yourself. Even when you aren’t feeling very motivational there are things you can do to get yourself back on track. Try the above tips or come up with and share ones that work for you. In the Seasons Leadership Program, we help you tap into your purpose and to identify and get in alignment with your values.