How to Stay Motivated

Last week, I stopped working with Ed, a financial advisor in Michigan.

Ed wanted me to give him the “magic formula” that would double his income.  He wanted to get results he hadn’t been getting by merely learning some “new tricks”.  Most importantly, he wanted me to motivate him.

Ed didn’t want to do the things coaching showed him he needed to do: get closer to his best clients; slow down and give people more of his time and attention; approach everyone with a “service mindset”.

Professionals who want more clients, more money, or more time to spend with their families need one of two kinds of help: training to do something they don’t know how to do, or coaching when they know what to do, but they’re just not doing it.

As I discussed in my last article, usually, if they’ve had some success in their field, they already know what to do, but they’re just not doing it—and more training will not get them different results.  Sure, they can pick up on a technique or strategy that subtly increases their business, but real, transformative change can only come through coaching.  Ed already knew what to do, but he wanted to find something to make his job easier—something that would magically make up for his lack of motivation.

Ed’s biggest misunderstanding was about motivation.  He had listened to me speak and had found my “Dance ‘Til It Rains” story (repeated in my chapter of Success and Happiness) to be exhilarating.  He had felt momentarily motivated, and when he contacted me about coaching him, he thought what he needed was a series of encouraging “fixes” to improve his attitude and keep his business humming along.  As we went through our first month of dialogue, he was unwilling to let go of the belief that he needed external motivation, even after I explained to him several times how motivation works:

Motivation comes from doing.  The problem with external motivation—what you get from a great speech or an inspiring story—is that it can only be short-lived.

A writer who feels she has “writer’s block” and sits tight, waiting for the spark, doesn’t need to hear a great speech or an inspiring story—she needs to write.  Somewhere in the act of writing, she’ll find her inspiration.

If you sell services for a living, you don’t need to be encouraged before you pick up the telephone to make your calls.  You need to pick up the telephone and make your calls.  Somewhere along the way, you’ll become encouraged.

If you don’t like the work you’re doing, Tony Robbins’s and Joel Olsteen’s inspirational energies combined won’t help you for more than a few days at a time.  You do need help with either finding something to like within your work, or finding some other work.

Ed loves his work—or at least, the idea of it.  But, he’s not spurred on by the kinds of clients he is attracting.  In our first session, Ed told me he would be encouraged if he were finding clients with large accounts to hire him; he knew he would want to help them achieve terrific returns.

A great motivational speech or inspirational story won’t change that desire for him.  Ed needs coaching—and maybe some more training—to help him attract the clients who can consistently motivate and inspire him.  A pep talk here and there might help, but in the end, he needs to be doing what it takes to get the kinds of clients he wants.  Desire will come from the doing.

Don’t wait to be motivated; get help now!  It’s the doing that counts.  That’s what I mean when I say: Keep REACHING...