PEOPLE variously refer to me as a management consultant or a corporate trainer. And, because I am involved in start-ups and businesses, I am also called an entrepreneur by some.
Of late, since I have been spending quite a bit of time working in the kitchen at my restaurant, people are calling me a cook, or sometimes more flatteringly, a Chef.
I don't mind how people refer to me, because I’ve figured out that the title people use doesn’t express accurately who I am. I get it that I am only defined by the quality of my thoughts, and actions.
But there has been one moniker that has always irked me; which is being called a motivational speaker. Thankfully, it's rare that I am referred to as this, nowadays.
Being referred to as this, never felt conformably with me.
Perhaps because certain sales-based industries were filled with these "motivational speakers" who would successfully rile up their audiences to go outsell their company’s products or services. Or because I felt like it was an over-used description for anyone who spoke passionately about a given topic.
But mostly, I've believed that motivation is something very subjective to each individual.
You can be motivated by many things, both internal and external, such as the desire to do something, the love of someone, or more often than not, the need for money.
Motivation is what pushes us to achieve our goals, feel more fulfilled, and improve our overall quality of life.
Through his seminal work on emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman, the renowned author and science journalist, argues that motivation has four elements: a personal drive to achieve something; a commitment to goals; initiative or a readiness to act; and optimism as well as resilience.
In all facets of your life, you will face demotivating situations, conditions, and people.
Currently, in our digitally driven world, we have an additional dimension. The democratization of disseminating information means you can reach a much wider audience on your social media feeds. But this also means everyone can, and often will have an opinion about you. This impacts your motivation.
While external influences play a role, I believe that sustainable motivation is always intrinsic. Self-motivation is such a vital skill to have. It is what drives you to keep going even in the face of set-backs, to take up opportunities, and to show commitment to what they want to achieve.
What do you need to be self-motivated?
There are two types of mindset, fixed and growth.
People who have a fixed mindset believe that their talent has a limit. Those who have a growth mindset, on the other hand believe that they will always improve, and acquire new skills. Consequently, people with a growth mindset are often more likely to achieve success in whatever they embark on.
In my own career, I've learnt to adopt a growth mindset as an important part of my life, and it has spurred me on, when demotivation sets in.
Albert Einstein reportedly said that if you want to live a happy life, you should tie yourself to a goal, rather than to people or things. So, having a clear purpose will ensure that you are self-motivated.
When you are so invested in a particular outcome, you can break through most obstacles.
If you examine the life of any noteworthy person, you will find that they had a single mindedness of purpose, which fueled their journey. It’s never the case that their life or career was plain smooth-sailing. It is that their attitude was clearly grounded with some deep purpose.
Daniel Goleman describes initiative as another self-motivator, and Roman philosopher Seneca is attributed as saying that luck is when opportunity meets preparation.
Preparation requires initiative. You must have a readiness to act.
Many people lose out in life because they pontificate too much. Decisions are made only after a laborious process of analysis, and debate. Some people are also unwilling or just plain lazy to get up, and do something.
Self-motivated people understand that it's important to think things through, yet act with decisiveness. Therefore, learn how to manage and mitigate risk while having the personal courage to make decisions.
A few weeks ago, I wrote in this column that you need to cultivate the ability to bounce back from setbacks. It takes resilience and optimism to do this.
To keep forging ahead in the face of a temporary defeat is so important, and if you can always see the bright side to life, you naturally stand a better chance at surmounting a problem. People who are dour, and see everything as a problem, often themselves become a problem to others.
Having optimism and resilience offers tremendous self-motivation.
So perhaps now you see why I don't like to be called a motivational speaker. I really can’t help you with your motivation. Only you do that for yourself. At best, other people can provide you a temporary respite.
As you get self-motivated, here’s wishing everyone a Happy Chinese New Year. Gong Xi Fa Cai.