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.

I Surprised Even Myself Today. . .

First Step is the Hardest

 

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-30

 

Today began with several firsts for me.  I fell into a rut a little more than a year ago, and my motivation to eat right and stay active kind of went down the drain.  This week I’ve been working on my motivation.  The past two days, though, I did nothing to stay active.  I was so tired that I just came home and did the absolute necessities and then crashed.

My goal was to sleep in today since it’s something I just don’t get to do.  I woke up a little before 8 and felt rested and refreshed even though I didn’t get to sleep until around 1:30 AM.  Yes that is sleeping in for me.

The first thing I did that surprised even me was that I didn’t sit in bed and turn the tv on.  I got up. . . and. . . I ran!  I know some of you enjoy it.  I know some of you are eager to do it and may even get in a bad mood if you miss a day of it.  But for me, I absolutely hate running.  It’s not fun, and I can’t figure out how to breathe, and my head feels like it’s going to explode, and I just don’t like it.  However, I can feel that it works every part of my body, and I’m able to set goals for myself, and it’s actually the one and only type of exercise I do that makes me  feel like I’ve accomplished something every time I do it.

My goal is always 3  miles, and I compete against myself – the shortest time I’ve run it before.  I haven’t run since 1 time in January, and that was the first time I ran since February LAST year!  My goal was just not to go over my longest time.  🙂

At a half mile, I almost gave up because for the first time ever in my exercising life, I was about to vomit.  Too hot? I don’t know.  Heart rate too high? I don’t know.  I decided to walk and if it was going to happen it was going to happen, but I was going to keep going anyway.

WHAT?!?!  Let me just say, if you know me at any capacity, you know I’m a complainer when I’m not comfortable.  The fact that I changed my thinking from I’m stopping 5 minutes in because I’m about to be sick to I’m going to be sick right here in the bushes, and then I’m going to keep going is just not normal for me.

Luckily I hadn’t eaten yet, so I was able to control it and didn’t physically get sick.  I picked up my pace and started running again.  I did have a moment around 1.5 miles where I started feeling it again, but I pushed through.  However, I was ready to stop when I hit 2 miles, but I still hadn’t made it back home.  My new goal was 2.5 miles and then jump in the pool fully clothed because it was too darn hot.

I hit 2.5 miles, but I was at 33 minutes. I don’t know if it’s my OCD, and 33 minutes didn’t work for me, or if it was my competitive nature, but something sent an extra burst of determination through me.  I knew when I ran my very first 5K several years ago, I hit 37 minutes.  I told myself it’s just a half a mile more, and surely I could do that in under 40 minutes.  I would not hit 40 minutes.  I ran as fast as my hurting, tired legs would allow me, and then I just knew it.  I knew I was going to finally be sick, but I would not stop before reaching 3 miles, and I would not hit the 40 minute mark.  I’ve never taken 40 minutes, and I wasn’t about to start now.  I was at 2.95 miles and somewhere above 38 minutes.  My eyes watered down my cheeks from controlling my stomach, but I reached 3 miles, and I did it under 40 minutes!

Oh, and I did not get sick!  Yes, this was my slowest time by far, and honestly I’m kicking myself for not going ahead and running the next 10th of a mile to hit the 5K, but I’m so proud of myself for pushing so hard and accomplishing what I originally wanted to accomplish in the first place.  I didn’t do it for anyone.  I didn’t do it for a race.  I did it for me.  I prayed.  I know it sounds crazy, but I prayed at the half mile when I felt sick, and I prayed at that 2.5 mile and again when I was so close to 3 miles but didn’t know if I could do it.

God did not have to allow me to finish what I had set in my head to do, but he did.  God doesn’t want us to just come to him when we need something, and he doesn’t want us to just talk to him about “serious matters.”  God wants to be our friend.  I told him what my goal was.  I talked to him about wanting to stop when I felt sick and again when my lungs hurt and again when my legs were tired.  He didn’t let me quit.  Instead, he told me, “No.  You’re not stopping when you just started.  You can do this.  Keep going.  You can do it!”  And I did.  He told me at 2.5 miles, “It’s just a half mile more.  You have 7 minutes, you can do it!”

Understand that God cares about the little things and wants you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.  It doesn’t necessarily have to mean in an exercise but in life.  Push yourself.  Talk to him.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).  That doesn’t mean you have to do everything right and perfect in order to “delight” yourself in him.  It means spend time with him, talk to him, love on him, and let him love on you.  Just like when you spend time with your friends, even when you two are doing nothing, that’s what God wants.  You enjoy spending time with friends; that’s delight, and spending time with God brings him delight.

You aren’t going to get everything you ask for, but God will do simple little things for you to show you he loves that you’ve been spending time with him.  Talk to him about the desires of your heart.  See what he does for you.  See if you might surprise yourself today.

 

 

Keeping Everyone Happy

disappointment

For someone who has struggled in the past with feelings of inadequacy, extremely low self-esteem, the need to be perfect in order to be good enough, and struggling with food addictions, it’s sometimes hard to stop these feelings from returning.

I told a little of my story before in my post, When Food Consumes You, and I mentioned that I was always tiny until college. That was me as it was everyone in my family. However, looking at the history of those in my family, it seemed that once adulthood hit I would inevitably gain weight.

I remember when I gained so much in college, and I constantly heard comments from loved ones.  They would say “You look like you need to jog around the block a few times,” and “Are you going to keep on until you look like your sister?” (Yeah that was a jab at both of us), or “How much weight are you planning on gaining?” Of course, these are just a few of the things I heard.

You see, many members of my family don’t have filters.  They say whatever is on their minds regardless of how it might hurt the other person.  I was the same way until my early 20s when it was brought to my attention what I was doing, and sometimes I still struggle with not saying the first thought that pops in my head.

I Can’t Win

For the first time in my life I am exercising and focusing on my health.  Yes, I was very active in high school as a cheerleader, but I never was one to go out and “exercise.”  I didn’t even step foot in a gym until college when I took a kinesiology class only because I had to.

Once I started really exercising, my metabolism went crazy again just like way back in the day.  I ended up losing about 10lbs more than I had set my goal to be, and I’m doing everything I can to gain more.  I’ve even been eating more junk food in the past few months than I’ve had in the entire year.  Nothing is helping me gain, and I know I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been.  If you’ve seen me in person you can see even my bones are tiny.  My fingers are tiny.  My little fingernails look like someone in elementary school.  It’s the way God created me.

I visited family this weekend, and those same people who made the comments above had other things to say to me.  One in particular I know was out of love, but that doesn’t make the words any easier.  “You look anorexic,” and “You are too skinny.  You look unhealthy.”  “You look poor. You need to stop losing weight,” and my favorite, “How much weight are you going to lose?”  That last one is interesting because it’s from the very same person who asked me several years back, “How much weight are you planning on gaining?”  Keep in mind I’ve lost nothing in a year.  I’ve actually gained a few.

If I’m living to please others, this is proof that I can’t win. I’m thankful I don’t struggle the way I used to, but boy is it hard when those are comments I hear first thing from my loved ones.

Today I find my identity in Christ.  I don’t struggle with my self-esteem because I came to the understanding that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made by the only one who knows what beauty and perfection are.  I’m living for an audience of one, so if someone doesn’t like me for who I am, there’s nothing I can do about it, and there’s no reason I should feel I have to do anything about it.  I don’t struggle with food anymore.  I don’t count calories or weigh myself.  I don’t even own a scale.  I do sometimes struggle with perfection, but that is something I continue to work on.  I’m so imperfect, and I know I can’t make up for it by being perfect in other areas.

I’ve grown.  I’m thankful, too, because this weekend could have easily sent me into an emotional downward spiral.  I love who I am.  I don’t understand why those I love most feel the need to point out what they think is wrong about me, and it’s by no means easy, but it’s something that I don’t need to spend my time dwelling on.  This is the extent of me dwelling on it—writing this post.  I’m speaking out for those of you who have gone through a similar situation.

How You CAN Win

Do NOT allow the words of others, harmless or otherwise, affect you in a way that is not healthy.  You are beautiful and perfectly made.  There’s a difference when someone knows that you are doing something unhealthy to yourself and someone who just feels the need to be critical.  Discern which voice you’re hearing.

Most importantly, remember you are to live for an audience of one.  If you try to live your life in a way that keeps everyone, you’ll quickly feel like you’re juggling your life unsuccessfully.  That’s the easiest way to make yourself feel like a failure.  Trying to please everyone is not possible, and you will fail.  Don’t do that to yourself.

Related Post: Why I Get Fit