Sometimes I ask myself, “Why did I get myself into this mess?” That’s a legitimate question, and I should ask it when the going gets tough.
That feeling overcomes me when I take on a project that becomes more complex, complicated, or time consuming than I anticipated. That’s whenI hit what Seth Godin calls, “the dip.” I feel like quitting.
Persistence requires me to pause and refresh before pressing on.
Maybe I SHOULD quit
Honest, soul searching evaluation is always appropriate. Some projects turn out to be a dead end. The payoff isn’t there, and it’s just eating my time and resources. Quitting is the right call.
I’ve started many spur of the moment ideas that seemed brilliant when they passed through my mind. Then I come to my senses. I pause and run that brilliant-at-the-time ideas through my five question test:
- What exactly is my goal?
- Why is it important to do it?
- What must I do to make it happen?
- Do I have the resources I need o make it happen?
- Do I have the passion to stick with it when things get tough?
If I’m clear on questions 1, 2, & 5, and the project is still a GO, I turn my attention to questions 3 & 4.
Maybe I should try differently
I didn’t say try harder.
At times I’m so excited to get started that I didn’t think far enough into what the project involved in time and resources. Or, I’m going in all directions at once, scattering my effort and energy. So, when I pause, I rethink what I’m doing and chunk the project into phases.
I focus on what I can and should be doing now. I’ve learned that in any project, there is always a next step that must happen before I can proceed. I tackle that one.
It might be that I’m not doing the right things. I get distracted with an aspect of the project that is easy or more interesting, but not central to the goal, instead of working through what needs to be done.
Maybe I should get help
I usually get stumped on resources. I don’t know how, or I don’t have a resource. Roadblock.
I have learned to ask for help. Sometimes I find information online. Sometimes I know someone who might know the answer to my problem. Often, if they don’t know, they do know someone else who might be helpful.
The added value of asking for help is I get to see my project through their eyes, and that has been eye-opening for me. They redirect me, or show me a better way, or inspire me to make my project better in some way.
Persistence gets me through the dip. Not my pushing harder, but by pausing to refresh before pressing on.
Persistence helps me to build the creative energy to
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.
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.
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.
Motivation is a driving force
At one point in my career I had a lot of influence over the direction of my organizations. I got to help build two organizations almost from the ground up. I loved it. And I absolutely loved what I had a part in creating. I talked possessively about both the organization and my role in it.
Love is a formidable power.
Love is more than a warm feeling; it’s a motivating force driving us to act on behalf of our object of love: love your family, love humanity, love your country, love God–even love your job.
I’ve learned to trust the force of love.
A force can be physical or emotional
There are physical forces we cannot deny. Gravity works consistently and universally, holding our universe together. The physical laws of the universe explain how it works, and we trust our lives to them.
There are emotional forces at work that are just as powerful and reliable. Love is one of those forces.
Think of all the love songs and love stories describing the actions people take driven by love. Conversely, think of all the stories about how people act destructively when they are either deprived of love, their acts of love are disparaged, their love is rebuffed by a loved one, or they avenge actions against a loved one.
Simply put, loves moves us.
Love emanates from our creative effort. That’s why we love our children over other children. We created them. It’s why we love our ideas over other’s ideas, why we love the product of our work over that of others–we created them.
People will support whatever they help to create.
Going back to the organizations I helped create. I could not understand why employees who came on board later did not have the same visceral attachment to the organization that I had. Then it dawned on me. They did not have a hand in creating it. They would never love it with the same intensity that I did.
Unless . . .
I made it possible for them to create what that organization would evolve into during their time there. When their ideas came to fruition in our projects and programs, they started loving it more. Funny how that works.
Love moves us.
Accountability is a 100-percent situation: either I did, or I did not. As the Star Wars character Yoda, said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Willingness is at the core of accountability.
I must be willing to do what it takes to get what I want. Otherwise I cannot hope to succeed. If I have all the resources and support I need, but lack the desire, I will come up short.
I will settle for something less than intended. The danger with that is that I will convince myself that close enough is the same as fully successful. Little by little, I delude myself into believing that I am doing my best when I am far from it.
How bad do you want it?
There is no aspect of my life that is not affected by this: work, finances, health, relationships, you name it.
Accountability is keeping the promises made to yourself.
Any promise I have made to someone else I also made to myself. I am committed to stepping up no matter what. When I don’t, I take the hit.
So I have to ask myself, “How badly to I want to be healthy? How badly do I want to grow my business? How badly do I want my marriage to be amazing? How badly do I want the respect of my friends and peers? How badly am I willing to do what it takes to make all that happen?”
There is no one else to do my part of the heavy lifting. Others might help out at times, but there is no walking away from the task until it is accomplished.
Be excellent to yourself
I deserve excellence. Don’t you? One of my tenets for living the INPowered life is to be excellent to myself. I am accountable for doing just that.
There is leverage and freedom in being accountable. Click here to see what I mean.
I am still learning how to use accountability to make my life better–to be more INPowered. I have renewed my promise to eat excellent food, and by that I mean more healthful food. No more junk food or comfort food as my main course. I also have renewed my promise to walk at least 12 miles a week. I deserve good health, and I alone am accountable for my wellness.
I urge you to accept my accountability challenge and live the excellent life you deserve.
Leaders are clear minded about their mission and purpose, which allows them to act decisively in the pursuit of it. This decisive clarity attracts like-minded followers eager to engage in support of that mission. They see a place for themselves in that vision.
Leaders take the first step so we all can move together.
Clarity is powerful. It focuses creative energy on a single outcome. Clarity attracts people who have a sense, a longing, that circumstances could be better. They just don’t know how to get to that place by themselves.
This is where my definition of leadership applies: leaders help us get places we cannot or will not go by ourselves.
This clarity prevents confusion, false starts, and wasted energy. On the other hand, those who lack clarity wander indecisively and often settle for tepid results coming from blurred vision.
Leaders answer these four questions to attract followers.
1. Where are we going and why?
Growing up, I often heard that it’s better to be a meaningful specific than a wandering generality. Have a goal–a purpose–and go for it.
We like to be around people who are going places. Moreover, we admire that they have a vision of where it is they are going, and they can describe it.
In a previous post I listed six steps in the formation and perpetuation of a movement. Expressing the vision comes on the heels of the inception of the idea. Leaders describe the future they envision. Others become inspired to follow.
Embedded in the story is the why. “We are going there so that . . . ” The where and the why are captivating, but they beg the next question.
2. How are we going to get there?
Most of us need a plan of action. How many times have we bought into a grand idea, only to be disappointed in the follow through?
Politicians razzle-dazzle us with their big ideas. They repeat their ideas loud and long with much fanfare, bluster, and arm waiving, let me tell ya. Listen for the plan. Otherwise, it’s an empty promise that isn’t really going anywhere.
Plans have action steps. Plans describe mileposts that measure progress. Plans anticipate obstacles and offer work arounds.
Lack of an action plan results in many false starts and stops that waste creative energy and frustrate everyone. Before you know it, followers have lost confidence and drifted away.
Even with a plan, followers turn to their vested interest revealed in the next question.
3. Will I be OK?
Is the plan doable, and can I do it? Will I make it to the destination? If not, if it’s too risky, why would I even consider going?
Surviving isn’t enough. We need to believe that the future state is better than the current state. The greater the perceived reward, the more eager we are to follow. The reward must be worth the cost of the trip.
4. How will you help me along the way?
Leaders are teachers and providers. In the planning they account for the needs of the followers to make the journey.
There is a difference between a trail blazer and a leader. The trail blazer is on his own quest. Others can tag along, but they are on their own. Keep up or fall by the wayside.
The leader moves systematically ever closer to the destination and helps everyone keep up. Sometime progress is slower. The leader encourages collaboration and teamwork. Everyone grows as everyone goes together.
You can count on me. That’s a powerful affirmation. It’s promising that you are accountable for getting the job done, for being a go-to person. Then, you deliver on your promise, or you don’t. Whatever the outcome, you own it, and you own up to it.
Sometimes it’s just about you.
Ultimate accountability is holding yourself accountable to accomplish personal results that others don’t care about.
What you eat and drink is up to you.
Whether you exercise is up to you.
What you choose for entertainment or leisure activity is up to you.
The promises you make to yourself and the personal goals you set are up to you.
Sometimes it’s about others, too.
The attention you pay to your job is up to you.
The commitment you make to your relationships is up to you.
The compassion and respect you show others is up to you.
Your choice of words is up to you.
Your attitude is up to you.
Being honest and ethical are up to you.
Offering a helping hand is up to you.
Forgiving is up to you.
No finger pointing, no excuses, no exceptions
When they fall short of their expectations, or make a mistake, the accountable don’t play the blame game. They learn from the experience.
The accountable stretch and grow from misfortune.
The accountable find ways over, under, around, and through obstacles.
The accountable admit their short comings, re-evaluate their approach, and redouble their resolve to follow through on their promise.
The accountable don’t have to say, “You can count on me.” Everyone just knows they will deliver.