Motivation, the buzzword | Sunday Observer

Motivation, the buzzword

Motivation is the eagerness and willingness to do something without needing to be told or forced to do it. Parents are lucky if they have a motivated child who does not need to be told to do his homework or to read books. But such children are hard to find. Most children have to be forced to do their work. Otherwise they would go on watching television or play hide and seek. If your child was not born with motivation, he or she has to be motivated. Psychologists have come up with various methods on how to motivate others to do certain tasks.

Motivation has something to do with your attitude. You cannot change your height or body type, but you can change your attitude through proper training. If you have not been getting what you expect out of life, it could be that you need to change your attitude. However, you cannot change your attitude overnight. The changing process takes time and you need a load of patience.

When I was admitted to an English medium school in the 1950s I faced an uphill task. Most of my classmates could speak English well but I found it difficult to communicate with them because I had come from a Sinhala medium rural school. Some teachers completely ignored me, but others tried to help me by giving advice. One of them said to me, “Speak English. Don’t worry about making mistakes.” The encouraging words came from a lady teacher who probably took pity on my soul. Thereafter, I made up my mind to speak English. After some time I managed to compete with others. I had to acquire the new skill in order to succeed in life. That was self-motivation and it worked.

Five-minute talk

One day, the Principal walked into the classroom. I looked him in the eye as if to convey that I was competent in speech. He responded by asking me to deliver a five-minute talk to the class. I kept repeating my affirmation. Then I got up and stood in front of the class. God knows how the words flowed out of my mouth – my confidence growing as I spoke. I proved to myself that I had outgrown my inferiority complex.

Later on I learned the power of positive thinking. I read a newspaper article about Mohammad Ali who told everyone, “I’m the greatest!” When he said so, nobody disagreed. Even athletes have a popular slogan: “Just do it!” You must try to do things which seem impossible. Nothing is impossible for a man or a woman who knows his/her power of motivation. I learnt this lesson while reading Napoleon Hill’s ‘The Law of Success’. No power in the world can stop you if you are committed to achieve something worthwhile in life.

Law degree

It is useless to rely on outside motivation. It should come from within. Outside motivation is like listening to recorded music. You will enjoy it and start dancing, but when the music stops you have to sit down. This does not happen with self-motivation. Each one of us should try to find our inner passion. If you have a passion for painting, learn the intricacies of the craft. If you do not have a passion for it, do not go to an artist or art school. Identifying your passion is important. If you do not know what your passion is, write down what you like to do. Then make a chart of how you intend to pursue your passion.

Percy (not his real name) was motivated by his teachers to read for a law degree. To please them he started following a course of studies leading to a degree in law. When he sat the final examination he realized his mistake. He had failed in most of the subjects. His teachers encouraged him to re-sit the examination. Again he failed. In a moment of retrospection, it dawned on him that law was not his cup of tea. Then he switched to English literature and Western Classical Culture. He found that those subjects were close to his heart. This shows the danger of becoming a slave to outside motivation.

After completing his degree, Percy was motivated to become a writer. When he did a market research he found there was a demand for English writers for newspapers, magazines and advertising companies. Most of the other jobs did not demand a knowledge of English. So he harnessed his power of visualization. He spent a lot of time in mental training, visualizing on writing a story for a newspaper. He then started contributing articles to newspapers. Most of his contributions were rejected, but he did not give up writing. One day a leading English daily published one of his articles prominently. He was overjoyed.

Nelson Mandela has written about how visualization helped him maintain a positive attitude during his decades in prison. “I thought continually of the day when I would walk free. Over and over, I fantasized about what I would like to do,” he wrote in his autobiography. Mandela proved that positive visualization and affirmation brought forth the expected results.

Encouraging words

When we connect with others we should use positive greetings. Give them a few encouraging words. One day I saw a municipal worker collecting garbage and whistling to himself. I smiled and asked him whether he was doing his job happily. “I am happy with my work. This brings me a good income sufficient to feed my wife and children,” he said. When I wished him a good day, he waved and vanished among the crowd. I was struck by his enthusiasm and his obvious sense of pride in the job.

We need a little bit of humour for positive energy. Smile with others or crack a joke occasionally to get rid of boredom. You do not have to be serious all the time. However much we are ambitious, we are not robots. We are human.

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