Reflections on Leadership: Motivation

Do you ever find yourself in situations juggling many ‘important’ priorities at once andjuggling3 not sure which one to focus on? Are you dealing with a list of actions and struggling to keep up? Or perhaps you have a vision to achieve something you deem important, and yet, it consistently eludes you despite trying so hard? Each time you set a goal, it goes unachieved – to the point you start beating yourself up about it. Frustrating?

If you fall into any of the categories mentioned, neither Hertzberg’s 2 Factor Theory nor Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs will provide the immediate psychological comfort you need to motivate yourself to move forward. If anything, they’ll probably frustrate you all the more.

Stop beating yourself up…

Beating yourself up when a set task goes unachieved is not the right mindset or state (of mind) to ‘operate from’. Instead of motivating you, the “beating-up-yourself mindset” actually sby5works in reverse order: It motivates you away from the doing itself – ensuring you get depressed, about being depressed, about not being motivated enough! Or, if it actually succeeds in pushing you to do the task, you operate from an unresourceful mindset, such that you’re not able to focus your full energies (or your ‘attention’) on the task in hand. This impacts the quality of the action taken – ensuring you do keep beating yourself up about it…


So, how do you motivate yourself, ensuring your tasks and key actions are performed to high quality? Let me answer that question by way of another question. Have you come across the following statement: “Attention is what you focus your full energies on as guided by intention”?

To unpack, here’s a short story:

I went into my local Print shop a couple of days ago to pick up some printing material. Whilst paying for the service, I scanned the office with my eye. storyI took particular interest in a picture hanging on the wall. I asked the lady serving me if she didn’t mind me taking a picture of it. She was happy for me to. So I did. It read:

Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention…It represents the wise choice of many alternatives”.

When you operate from a high intention, you are better able to stay focussed on what is important to you – and therefore deliver consistent high intention2quality action: Attention is what you focus your energies on – as guided by intention. Think about that for a second. Note use of the word ‘intention’. Intention, is different from, ‘attention’Intention is ‘the why’ behind the things that you do; “attention”, are the things your focus on at a given time.  Put another way, intention is staying focussed on what is really important to you, whilst using your attention to sift through arising and interconnected daily life choices.


So whilst I sit on my sofa typing this article, I am paying attention to the ‘qwerty’ keys, ensuring I type correctly and speedily. At the same time, paying attentionI am also paying specific attention to my thinking process as I type. I am thinking to myself: “How can I clearly explain this to my readers?”. In effect, I am paying attention to a number of things at a given time.

‘Intention’ on the other hand is that which drives what I am paying attention to. It is the one very thing, around which, all other things I pay attention to, are only but a means to an end.  Why am I writing this article? Why does this topic interest me? Because amongst the choice of many alternatives, writing on this topic, makes me happy. That’s my high intention. Being happy. happiness5And so, I choose this task (of writing) from a place of happiness – and apply my full focus and energies to my thinking on the subject.

Choosing a task from a place of happiness ensures you stop beating yourself up – about other ‘competing priorities’ which do not fall within the domain of your high intention, at this moment. No matter the number of competing priorities you have, and regardless of how many times you may have ‘failed’ to meet those priorities, operating from a resourceful state (of mind), from a place of intentionality, is critical. It facilitates the mindset that will get you doing the doing, rather than thinking about doing. Furthermore, it provides insight toward making wise choices, amongst competing alternatives.

So, connect with your intention and stop the pattern of wasteful cyclical thinking that keeps motivating you away from high quality doing – to a happier state that motivates you toward doing.

A few tips…

  • Step 1: What is your ‘why’? What is your intention? Take your time to respond to these questions within…
  • Step 2: Consciously choose a happy state of mind to operate out from. For example, imagine and feel the positive energy of completing a task…helpfultips
  • Step 3: Bring the positive energy of completion to bear on how you feel about the task in the present moment. Operate from there…
  • Step 4: Stop thinking about what you haven’t done, and pay attention to the things that you have done.
  • Step 5: Congratulate yourself. Celebrate incremental steps and successes.

Remember, always let your intention guide what you focus your attention on – this will lead your choices amongst alternatives.

Happy journeying…


NB: This is the last of 4 reflective articles on leadership. To discuss further, or to learn more, visit:



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