motivation

Let The River Flow

Deschutes River

The river always flows. It will rise and drop, but it always flows.

If we seek control, we could attempt to contain the current. The fight would be immense, and most likely, futile. Aside from the adverse effects this would have on the surroundings, trying to control things that are out of our control leads to frustration and failure. Authority forces either submission or struggle.

Or we could use the flow of water to our advantage. Accepting that we do not control the current is the first step to seeing its benefit. It can propel us down the river to new places, and the flowing river moves fresh water, gives life, and creates so much for so many. We could attempt to control it, or we could work with it. Adaptation may be the answer.

We are much more likely to succeed by controlling our own actions, as opposed to the world around us. By successfully leading our own actions, we can influence in a manner that supports change. We can always work to influence that which can be influenced, but controlling external factors is a waste of time and energy.  Control your actions, and adapt to the river.

 

 

Darkness Holds Opportunity

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There is security in being able to see what lies ahead. When presented with the unknown, fear and skepticism can override our ability to move forward. Darkness does not remove the opportunity ahead, it only hides it from view. Venturing into the unknown takes faith, confidence and an acceptance of moving out of your comfort zone.

When many others will not venture into the darkness, it can become your opportunity. Fear is overcome when we confront it, and when we do, we are better for it. Embrace the darkness as an opportunity, for all it hides and holds.

Escape Into Reality

S Sister over Lava Lake

The modern world is full of tasks, distraction and noise, which clutters the mind. This clutter leaves no time or mental space for clarity, deep thought or peaceful thought. The common approach to this is to find an escape FROM reality. Escapes like television, intoxicants, internet and dreaming can remove the noise and chaos of the world around us, but it does not cure the issue. Some of these escapes only give temporary relief, as we enter into a false world of fantasy.

Instead of using false worlds or escapes to relieve the stress and noise of daily life, escape INTO reality by going outdoors and into nature. The same stress relieving properties will happen, yet now, you’re entering the natural world that we operate and live in. The benefits of this include a mental and physical rejuvenation, a greater understanding and appreciation of the world around us and an inspiration to thrive. Even Business Insider highlighted the benefits of outdoor exploration, and the benefit to business and leadership.

When the stresses of daily life are such that you need an escape, make it a priority to escape INTO reality, and into nature. You will find peacefulness and clarity while enjoying the outdoors, which will also have added benefits for your life and work. We all need an escape, make it a healthy one. Escape INTO reality, escape into the outdoors.

Energized By Your Work

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Hard work can be draining, leaving you exhausted, negative and wishing you could do anything else. This hard work feeling typically comes from work that does not seem significant, relevant or worthwhile. It can seem like thankless hard work.

On the other hand, hard work can motivate and inspire. It can be a stepping stone to greatness. It can take you to new places, leaving you wanting to see more, regardless of how hard you will need to work to get there.

Find your passion and let it fuel your work. You will find that the hard work hardly feels like work at all.

Around the Bend

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Drifting down a river offers opportunities, challenges and unique experiences. The diversity of experiences, from whitewater rapids to calm waters, gives us something to learn from and look forward to.

The bending canyon walls and trees block our sight down river and into the future, yet incrementally the view presents itself. The canyon walls limit our perspective and focus the attention on what is immediately around us. This limitation actually gives an opportunity, an opportunity to look closely at the surroundings and to appreciate the subtlies around us that often unnoticed.

As we drift down a river, we lose sight of the upstream portion behind us, yet we retain the memories and lessons. We use these experiences to better understand our current location and help predict what lies ahead. This unknown explains the reason and need for guides, consultants and mentors, as they have been down this river before. Their wisdom is invaluable in helping novices navigate through rough waters.

Life presents itself one moment at a time. Some simple and relaxing, while others require focus, skill or even luck to keep afloat. We can only get glimpses of what lies immediately ahead, leaving us with a sense of excitement and anticipation for what lies around the bend. Drifting down a river canyon represents a great way to live our lives. Live in the moment to soak it all in, while keeping an enthusiasm for the opportunities and beauty that lies just around the bend.

Train Your Eye

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Black bear observed at Yellowstone National Park

Our lives are filled with lots of stimuli that distract us from the course we are meant to take. Once you determine your goals and set your course, keep your eyes trained for the opportunities you seek.

It is simple to spend energy dwelling on the past and the things that could have been or you could use your energy seeking the next opportunity. We all work with limited resources, but opportunity is all around us. It is not abundant and opportunity usually sits hidden or unnoticed. We need to have the vision to see it and the hope that it will happen.

Recently, prior to our family trip to Yellowstone National Park, I taught my daughter how to locate animals in the woods or from afar. We discussed and practiced training her eyes to see the color, shape and movement of animals, as they are so well adapted to not being seen.  While in the park (and now anywhere), she is great at locating the opportunities to watch the animals she so excitedly wants to see and experience. She seized the opportunity by training herself to see it, and then was able to help others who did not have the same skill.

This is not unlike business or life. Once we know what we are looking for, we need to keep our eyes and ears open to the possibilities. Partnerships and resources don’t typically fall in your lap and it takes a keen eye to find the possibilities, but you need to be trained to look for them.

Take some time to identify your goals and needed resources, and then train your eye to find them. Give yourself the edge over others who cannot see these opportunities and those who do not even look for them. It requires some patience and perseverance, but the time will come and your keen eye will see an opportunity that will propel you closer to your goals.

Opportunities are all around if you know what to look for. If you don’t see them, surely someone else will. Train your eye!

Achievement (On the Lighter Side)

It is common to set goals, dream and desire past times, but what separates dreams from success is those who do it. Follow your passion and purposefully make progress: step by step, brick by brick, day by day, skill by skill, place by place, person by person. Take the time to make progress toward these goals and their achievement becomes possible. There is one guarantee: If you aren’t working to achieve your goals, they are only dreams. In the words of the famous philosopher, Calvin:

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Now, get your knees dirty and make progress toward your dreams!

Your Gift, Your Reward

In an economic system that measures our worth by the response we get from our clients, customers, reviewers and patrons, we often overlook our own creative release. 

Recently, while visiting a home in Central Oregon, I noticed many fine carvings around the house. The work was very well done, showing quality to attention and proportion. I was impressed by the work. The owner did not draw attention to the carvings or even discuss them, and had I not gone into his shop and later seen his current carving projects, I would have never known that he made them. Later, what astonished me even more than the carvings was his humbleness about the work. He did not seek any attention, review or sales for his talents. It was clearly done for himself.

Again, in my role as a Superintendent, I was talking to a parent about an after-school art class taking place. The parent was thrilled with the class, but posed a concern to me. She stated that she asked her daughter what she thought of the class and the young girl paused and told her mother, “I like the class, but I didn’t try my hardest.” This perplexed the mother, as her daughter is a talented and creative young artist. She looked at me and asked what may be going on. After some probing questions, I was able to confidently tell this mother, “Not to worry. Your daughter does art for herself, not for a teacher or for praise. It is for her.” The parent agreed and left with a new perspective on her daughter and her talents. 

When we deal with sales and services, we need to mold to meet the demands of our market. I am pleased to see, though, that intrinsic motivation and creative release still exists in this extrinsically motivated world. Your gift can also be your reward.

 

Amongst the Giants

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In a leadership capacity, be weary of comfort and contentment that lasts for too long. These feelings should be pitstops on your journey of improvement, but not the destination. When you are in need of inspiration and motivation yourself as a leader, find those giants around you who make you want to be a better person and who can help you obtain it. Surround yourself with these leaders, their word and their actions. It is humbling and inspiring all at once.

They afford the motivation for you to boldly move yourself from the place of contentment to making your next giant leap.