[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]What motivates you to take the actions you take, or the feelings you feel?  Are you looking for others to motivate you?

Motivation recently came up when my 16 year old son, Aiden, faced a pretty big disappointment in the high school world.  After playing a great junior varsity baseball season and even winning a coach’s award for his batting, Aiden was not selected or “called up” so they say to the Varsity level for playoff games.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner row_type=”row” type=”full_width” text_align=”left” css_animation=””][vc_column_inner width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]“Why am I putting in so much effort if I’m not getting recognized?” Aiden asked me.

Yikes!  I knew it was a pivotal teachable moment in the development of a young man.  How I responded might define whether my son adopts the “I’m a victim” attitude or “watch me keep on fighting.”   It’s a lot of pressure to say the right thing!

I imagined my mom’s word of condolence to me as a teenager, whenever I felt disappointed. I repeated mom’s words pretty much verbatim.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3106″ img_size=”full” qode_css_animation=””][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]“I’m very sorry you are disappointed, I’m extremely proud of your effort, I know you did your best.”

The slightly angry, slightly demoralized boy sitting in front of me calmed slightly.

Then I asked, “What is motivating the effort it took?  Because if you’re goal is to be recognized, then you’re going to be disappointed most of the time.”

I’m not sure he’d ever stopped to really think about his motivation before, so that’s what he did.

My father has a PHD in psychology and I’ve enjoyed listening to his take on human behavior over my life.  He told me decades ago something I’ve never forgotten.  He said, “Fear is the most powerful motivator” for people.

Fear?  Really? Well that’s too bad; I remember thinking at the time.

Dad explained that many of our actions are based on either the fear of not getting something, or the fear of losing something we already have.  If we can acknowledge fear as a basic instinct that drives us in the background of our psyche, then can we use higher reasoning to establish more positive motivations?

Fear was present for my son.  The fear of not getting recognized, the fear that maybe he’s wasting his time.

“But does not getting called up really matter in the long run?” I asked him.  “Who even remembers who was called up to not play in a high school playoff game?”

Aiden kind of laughed at that.  Getting called up would’ve been a nice little nod, but that’s it

The two of us spent some time that afternoon talking about positive internal forces.  Outside motivational forces don’t provide enough fuel long term to help people reach their goals. This is primarily because we can’t control outside forces, only our reactions to them.  You can’t force someone to pick you, love you, agree with you, etc.  If we rely on the outside to always (or even some times) tell us, “You’re doing a good job,” then life might seem harder than it should be.

I suggested to my son that better positive motivators for playing great baseball could be a desire to be healthier, to play in college, to enjoy the camaraderie of a team, or to simply improve.  Forget the trophies or the attaboys – (I mean, enjoy them if you get them, just don’t dwell on not getting them.)

It’s not easy.  I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit I fall prey to seeking outside motivation.  I shared one of my own personal disappointment stories with my son and he shrugged and said with only a little bite, “Well, it still would’ve been nice to be recognized…”

Aiden then set his alarm for 5:00 am the next morning for weight training before school.  It’s time to motivate himself for football season.

“The Pessimist Sees Difficulty In Every Opportunity. The Optimist Sees Opportunity In Every Difficulty.” – Winston Churchill[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]