I remember when I could run a 9-minute mile.  I ran every day and did some form of resistance training three times a week most weeks.

Then I got too busy to maintain that exercise schedule. Little by little my stamina and strength evaporated.

I remember when I was well versed in pop culture. Today, there is a new wave of pop artists I’ve never heard of, while my favorites are now the classics.

Life happens

A new generation is born, grows up, moves in to drive the commerce of culture, and takes over all the institutions. The world as I knew it is a relic, and I’m left hanging on to it with a death grip, terrified of falling into the abyss of irrelevance.

Everyone experiences this with age. It happens because as time goes by, somewhere along the way we find a comfortable spot and stop. It feels familiar and safe and predictable, so we decide to relive that life every new day.

We desperately try to mold the emerging world to match the way things are supposed to be. When that fails, we become like the ostrich that sticks his head in the sand, thinking it’s better to be blissfully ignorant than engaged. The problem is we don’t realize we have done so.

Opening my eyes to a new life

I’ve taken a different approach.

I’ve decided to evolve with the times.

I’ve decided to embrace pop culture as expressive of the interests, personality, hopes, and dreams of the world’s new population of leaders.

I’ve decided to embrace the exuberant freshness of their inclusiveness, tolerance, and passion for a better way

I’ve decided to let go of the way things are supposed to be to grab hold of the way things could be.

I’ve decided to

Garland McWatters, INPowered to Lead, Tulsa OK, author

Fear less

I stood on the edge of the dance floor awaiting instructions from the dance leader, anxious to impress my date–an accomplished dancer. My mouth was dry, my palms sweaty, my knees locked.

On my side, the gents lined up shoulder to shoulder. Facing us from the other side, the ladies. Behind the ladies, Carol sat among the tables surrounding the dance floor.

Truth as I saw it

Carol and her dance instructor had just performed a routine at the showcase to which she had invited me. They were amazing. They had trophies to prove it.

“Ok, everyone, it’s time to get sociable,” the dance leader began. ” When you get to the front of the line, gents, introduce yourself to the lady facing you and dance her down the floor. We’ll be doing a two-step. Have fun.”

Fun?! Crap! I had never done a two-step in my life. Personal humiliation in front of a room full of dancers was not my idea of fun.

The resonate baritone country and western vocal swelled over the crowd. The first couple stepped out between the facing lines. The ladies were already dancing in place, moving toward the head of the line. They expected to be shown a good time.

A quick line count to my right. I estimated I had about thirty seconds before total humiliation.


So, I did the only thing I could think of.

I scooted backward, slowly, out of the line, drawing minimal attention to myself. I gazed at the floor, thinking if I didn’t look anyone in the eye, they wouldn’t see me slinking into the shadows.

I watched from a dark corner near an exit. What I saw horrified me.

Many of the gents could barely walk in time to the music, much less two-step. The ladies didn’t mind. They were laughing and dancing and having a blast. Had I given in to a false fear?

I snuck out the back door.

Shamed, I considered just leaving. But I made my way around the hallway and reappeared at Carol’s table just as the dance was ending. I slid quietly into the chair next to her.

“I wondered where you went. I thought you were going to dance in the mixer,” she chirped.

“Er, uh . . . I was, but a stomach cramp hit me. Had to go to the restroom. Must have been something I ate,” was my excuse.

“Oh. Well then, there’ll be another dance later. Maybe you’ll be over it by then.”

But I couldn’t lie to myself. I let fear make the choice.

A better way

Fear compels us to run away from possible harm in whatever form we perceive it. To survive, the brain is programmed to treat all threats as real, just in case. Act first, think later it warns.

In this case, the only fear I faced was the fear I conjured up in my imagination.

I resolved at that moment, that I would never let fear make my choices again. My new strategy: fear stirs -> automatic reaction -> think and evaluate -> choose to adjust behavior and follow through.

I have kept my word to myself because I intend to
Garland McWatters, INPowered to Lead, Tulsa OK, author

When we are drawn into action

I saw her across a crowed room. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She looked at me with her dark almond shaped eyes, smiled shyly, glanced down, then, looked back up at me without lifting her head. By that time I was already half way across the room.

Get the picture?

Her glance moved me into action, filled with excited anticipation mixed with a twinge of nervousness.

That’s motivation.

The anticipation and expectation of a positive experience or a reward will cause us to respond toward the object of our attraction.

The energy of motivation works like a magnet to pull us toward enjoying the pleasure of the anticipated, awaiting reward–whatever it might be. As we are pulled in a direction, we add the kinetic energy of our own movement to create momentum.

The force of motivation is undeniable, and predictable.

Think of when you have been compelled to act toward a desired end. You find yourself moving with direction and purpose. Plus, you feel good and whole in the doing of it.

Here’s something to think about. Just relax and reflect on all those times you felt that way–when you were excited anticipating getting to do something you really enjoyed. Reflect on the anticipation and all you did to prepare yourself to go do that whatever.

Motivation is the force that leads up to the actual doing. It is found in anticipation. When you give others something to look forward to, you can move them toward that event.

Your opportunity as a leader is to show them an outcome where they will want to go, or that they will want to create.

You can use the natural energy of motivation to
Garland McWatters, INPowered to Lead, Tulsa OK, author

Listen to a previous Spirit of Leading podcast about motivation

I explain in more depth why this energy works as it does. It’s the opposite of the wind beneath your wings. Click here to find out what I mean by that.