Teacher, Coach, Entrepreneur, Parent, Mentor. . .Are You As Effective As You Think? 3 Questions That Will Make or Break You as a Motivator.

MOTIVATOR

According to audioenglish.org, the noun MOTIVATOR has only 1 sense:  “a positive motivational influence” (emphasis added).

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past day or so because I surround myself with many types of people who are viewed as motivators.  I consider my own self to be a motivator in certain areas as well.

A motivator’s intentions are to positively motivate others in specific areas.  Let’s break it down with our handy dandy thesaurus (Thesaurus.com).
**A motivator’s intentions are to

  • EXCITE others
  • INSPIRE others
  • PROPEL others
  • SPARK (ignite a fire in) others
  • LEAD others
  • MOVE others

 These Questions Will Make or Break You as a Successful Motivator

We all have the opportunity to motivate on some level.  It’s vital that those of us who portray ourselves as motivators (spiritually, academically, physically, nutritionally, etc.) always ask ourselves 3 questions before submitting that next text, email, private message, status update, advertisement or verbal communication:

1. What is it that truly moves me to excel at the things I might typically struggle to do because the want to just isn’t fully there?

When asking yourself this question, be honest.  Are you motivated long term by money, genuine compassion, someone yelling in your face about what you’re doing wrong, someone being condescending toward you [belittling you] to push you into becoming better, someone giving you praise at even your smallest achievements and attempts, someone telling you how much they believe in you, someone doing what you’re doing alongside of you . . . ?  The list can go on for miles.  Ultimately, you’ll land on what you find to be your strongest motivator that helps you become a better you, and when that motivator is no longer in the picture, you can still find yourself being successful.

When asking this question, it’s also important to understand you are not the one who determines what motivates others.  Every person is different, and a good motivator knows how to make adjustments for different people and in different settings.  What works for you might not work for the person you are trying to motivate.  In the same regard, what works for that person you’re currently motivating, very well may not work for his or her friend who comes to you tomorrow in search of a push toward the same type of excellence.

2. Are my words meant to encourage or discourage?

This is a big one for so many of us.  I remember when I began teaching, I had gone through all those years of school being taught, “You can never start out easy and move to being strict.  It’s better to start off overly strict and ease up.”  That’s how I began my teaching career, and that first year was just not fun for the students or me.  I was not . . . ME. . . Yes, I have very high expectations of my students and those I coach in the fitness world, but I was taking on the persona of those who came before me as well as the one who mentored me, and I was downright mean and very well may have damaged some kids in the process.

I feel certain I did not motivate anyone that year to excel at Spanish or to become a teacher or, well, anything.  I don’t feel I inspired a single student that year.  Why?  Because 1) I was trying to be someone I’m not and 2) it’s very difficult for someone to genuinely be moved by such harsh words and what I’m sure appeared to be a heart with little to no compassion.

In the 14+ years I’ve lead, taught, mentored, coached people, I’ve learned that absolutely no one is motivated long term by those types of things.  In fact, that’s where many completely lose any bit of desire they had to excel in whatever area it is.

3. Do I know this person’s story?

That person you’re talking to – the one you’re trying to motivate – the person who is silently watching and trying to muster up the nerve to even approach you about bettering herself – do you know whether or not she has struggled with some serious issues in her past where your sarcastic or curt words could feel to her as verbal abuse or even bring back old memories or tendencies that she has worked so hard to overcome?  If you don’t know the answer to this question, you might want to really consider your marketing plan before putting it out there.

The fact is, you don’t know the stories behind everyone who comes into your class, home, social networking world, or place of business.  You don’t even know what kind of day people have had, and your words are meant to inspire not degrade.

We can’t walk on eggshells because we’re too afraid to hurt someone’s feelings, but at the same time we can be smart and sensitive to the fact that there are people with all different kinds of stories who cross our paths, and if we present ourselves as a “go-to” person for motivation, then we must also be considerate in our motivational techniques.  Even things you wouldn’t take as being hurtful may very well be hurtful to someone else.  We absolutely must think about these things first.

Quick personal example: I remember someone just a year or two ago who came up to me and went on and on about how teeny tiny I was and proceeded to tell me that I need to be counting calories and I should be using this special app to make sure I’m eating enough, and I need to start focusing on adding such and such to my diet this many times a day so I could gain weight.

That may sound like nothing to you.  However, it was very difficult for me.  In the first place, I never asked this person for her advice or thoughts.  I actually had never even met this person but she was a friend of a friend, and we were at the same event.  Second, I was already lifting heavy, taking supplements, and eating enough for a family of 5 during that time in order to try to gain muscle, and I can’t help that God created me as a small person.  Lastly, she had no idea that I had struggled with eating and counting calories and weighing myself in the past or that I had already attempted twice to use that special app, but I saw those tendencies from my past coming back, and I knew it wasn’t smart for me to use it.  She also didn’t know that I had for the first time in my life loved my body and the way I felt inside and outside but had recently started struggling with it again because of a few similar remarks from loved ones, so hearing someone I had never met go on for what seemed like days while I could feel my chest burning because I was working so hard to keep the tears from making an appearance came really close to sending me over the edge causing me to quit anything related to fitness altogether.  Yes, I did consider that on several occasions after hearing what, to me, were incredibly negative comments about myself.

This instance wasn’t even something as serious as some things I’ve seen happening to others, but I think it gives you an idea of how the things we say can really negatively affect those who look up to us as motivators just as much as it can positively affect them.

Our goal is to motivate – to challenge and push as we influence, inspire, encourage, and move someone into a positive direction.

7 Days Outside of My Comfort Zone: Day 7

Comfort zone 7

Day 7
This is NOT the End

It started last Friday when I felt the need to take 7 days to step outside of my comfort zone.  What I thought would be just a little uncomfortable actually became more than uncomfortable.  Some days I found myself trying to reason with God when I didn’t want to talk about certain things, and on those days I usually typed my words with a tremble in my hands and shed a few tears before clicking Publish.  God’s perspective is much greater than mine, though.  I’m thankful I did this.  Believe it or not, it was incredibly freeing. 

Today will be a different way of stepping outside of the comfort zone.  Maybe I will be required to step out even more, but maybe I won’t be required to step out at all.  The reason I don’t know is because I leave it in your hands.  I’m opening today up for specific questions from anyone reading this.  Of course, if you’re reading months after this has been written and posted, feel free to still ask questions.

Maybe no one will ask questions.  Who knows?  I do hope to interact with many of my readers as a result of these 7 days, though.  I know people might have specific questions about something they’ve read this week or something they’ve heard.  Please, don’t hesitate to ask regardless of how small or big the question is. 

This may be day 7 of my 7 Days Outside of My Comfort Zone, but this is definitely not the end of me stepping outside of what is comfortable for me.  One thing I know is true; if I’m walking out my purpose, I’m going to be asked to get outside of the comfort of my little walls.  Look at those who have done anything great, past or present.  I bet it won’t take long to find that they had to step outside of their comfort zones in order to be great. 

What is one way you can step outside of your comfort zone this weekend?

**If you would like to contact me to ask questions about anything regarding anything I’ve talked about this week, or if you just feel the need to talk, you can always comment to this post.  However, if you would prefer it to not be quite so public, you can use the contact form below to send me an email.**

 

7 Days Outside of My Comfort Zone: Day 6

comfort zone 6

Day 6
Laying it Out There

As I’ve said throughout this 7 day journey, I am a private person.  I haven’t openly spoken about things that have gone on in my life – unless they’ve long passed.  I’m a firm believer that God has a plan for everything in our lives.  He even has a plan for us to succeed and be blessed after we’ve made decisions that were out of his design for us.  I’m also a firm believer that everything in our past are tools used to shape us into the person we are today.  I am thankful for the last 17 years of my life, and I have been so blessed.  I feel it’s necessary to say this before continuing on because I don’t want the words that follow to be skewed in any way.

I had a dream.  It’s the same dream many have and strive for.  The thing with me is not that I think I’m different or better than the next person, but when I have a dream or goal in mind, I never even entertain the idea that it could go any other way.  My dream was to get married, have kids, and be the first in my family to stay that way and create memories together that follow us into our last moments of life.  I wanted to be the elderly couple holding hands and laughing at something that happened decades before.  This was my dream. 

Even before we married, we struggled immensely, but we continued moving forward any way.   We were very good at making it appear things were great when, in actuality, we were merely best friends living as roommates from the beginning.  And that worked off and on for a while.  We even involved ourselves in participating and even in leading small groups for married couples in hopes we could find that kind of bond between us.  We desperately tried to force that bond to happen, but for some reason, it just didn’t.

As I mentioned in a previous post, things kept in the dark are given room to grow, and it’s an open invitation for the Enemy to play.  As the years passed, we added more to that dark area, and the Enemy didn’t pass up the opportunity to throw the ball to him every so often and to me every so often.  Before we even realized it, both he and I were playing a friendly game of catch with our rival, who had a plan himself.

At one point, we came to terms with the knowledge that we both had done some irreparable damage to one another, and we were not showing any signs of letting up.  We decided, for our kids’ sake, we couldn’t continue living how we were, so without telling anyone, we separated.  I can’t speak for him, but I can tell you I found myself in some incredibly dark times, and I just stopped.  I stopped reaching out to people; I stopped writing; I stopped going to church; I stopped . . . living.  I look back at my 2012-2013 teaching year, and I was in a fog.  I was deeply depressed, and I honestly can’t tell you much that I lived during that time.  There were a few times I prayed we could make it work, and I would go back with those hopes, but there was so much anger in both of us, and we couldn’t seem to get ourselves on the same page.

The second half of the year, though, God really started working in me showing me what he wants for my life, and I knew where I was at that moment couldn’t possibly lead me there.  I became friends with a group of people who continued to ask me to church with them, but I always declined.  Finally God used my new friends to call me out on not going to church, and I knew they were right, so I went with them.  It was the beginning of me finding light again in my darkness.  However, not too long after I was served with divorce papers in the parking lot on my way to work.  Even through the divorce process, there were times I prayed for my heart to be open and try to reconcile, but I was pushed away with each attempt.

I stopped letting that relationship consume my every thought and began to focus more on my faith and my relationship with God.  Drastically, everything inside of me changed.  Despite the chaos surrounding me, I was at peace inside for the first time in a long time.  God was reminding me of who I am and the plans he has for me, and I found myself craving to be side-by-side with him again.  The most amazing thing about God is that he is always there just waiting for us to walk beside him.  He started speaking to me again and often, and I remembered how wonderful it is to be in his presence constantly. 

In the last weeks of 2013, I decided to open myself up again to possible restoration in my marriage, but this time I was going in with a new heart and new thoughts and with God right beside me.  Unfortunately, it became clear that it wasn’t going to happen, so I decided I would no longer pray for changed hearts for us, and I would no longer allow myself to be stagnant in my situation.  God was moving in me, and I needed to allow myself to be moved.  As hard as it was, it meant I had to move without the person beside me who had been beside me at some capacity since 1996.

This year has already been so incredibly full of God’s love and blessings, and I am looking forward to living out his plan for me.  I’m in a good place.  No, it’s not where I ever thought I’d be, but it’s my Plan B, apparently, and God can and will bless it just as I know he is and will continue to bless and protect our kids. 

My Plan B is in its beginning stages.  I have faith it will be blessed.  From a post written December 2, 2013 , you can read what I mean by that.  What Happens When Plan A Fails?