Another possible headline--Why Some People Can Motivate Themselves and Others Can’t: The Real Secret to Success. That's a bit overblown, but if you're reading this, chances are good that you might agree with me or--even better--that you recognize how important your own self-motivation can be at work.
We spend far too much time teaching skills at school and in the workplace. Where do we learn how to motivate ourselves? How do we learn to pick ourselves up when we are down? Just how important is this? Is this a skill that can be learned? Or is it a natural component of our personality?
You will agree that it is important I am sure. You know that in most jobs, candidates are judged mostly for attitude and not skill. Companies can train for skill, they don’t know how to train for attitude.
Sure, some of the things companies do can help employees exhibit a better attitude. But if it takes free milk and apples in the break-room to get you motivated, then expect tough times ahead. Milk is expensive and only companies like Google and Zappos offer free food.
Farsighted companies understand how to motivate and help people with their attitudes. Mostly, they remove obstacles and annoyances in the workplace. If the guy in the next cube smacks his gum, just ask HR--they will fix it for you.
More and more, you are going to be expected to fix your own damn attitudes. Companies don’t have the time nor the skill to fix you. And trust me, a bad attitude--and its daily exhibition--is a recipe for a lifelong career that requires wearing a paper hat and asking if they “want fries with that?”
There are a few “tricks” that others have suggested, and ones from me that you may have not heard:
1. Surround yourself with positive things and people. If this means ignoring Debbie Downer at work, her loss. I am told that in AA, one of the things they tell you to do is to separate yourself from your drink 'til you throw up buddies. Same thing here. You are addicted to negative thinking and bad motivation.
2. Admit the problem. Don’t rationalize that you are just being “realistic.” Or that someone has to be a truth teller in your organization. Go tell all your truths to the others in the unemployment line.
3. Remember positive things and people. You have these memories, you just need to be able to call them up and relive them.
4. Read great books and literature. There are plenty of self-help, self-motivation books out there. Read a few and try some of the tips you will learn. Become a student, or a motivational hobbyist. More on this later.
5. Work on making yourself more likable. Yes, I am serious. Here is a piece that might help.
6. Laugh. I do not know any negative people who laugh--a lot. It is simply impossible to be negative and out of sorts if you smile and laugh a lot.
7. Read this. A revealing admission. I have read countless positive motivation books. I have seen Zig Ziglar. But the one book I keep coming back to is the one that literally shook me to my own core when I was 25 or so. It is not a motivational book, per se. In fact, it is a novel. For me, reading this book was a life changing event. If you have not yet read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, run to the library and check it out.
G. L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, which operates LinkUp, one of the fastest-growing job search engines. His blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com.