Throughout this series, we have discussed developing the principles of empowerment and leadership. Planning, prioritizing, organizing, applying initiative and overcoming obstacles all empower us, bring us closer to our goals, and develop our leadership skills. Two of the most necessary skills we develop are discipline and self-control. We have the ability to choose our level of motivation. We have the ability to choose our state of mind. All of these skills, among others, are called upon in the process of navigation. As we effectively apply discipline to these principles, we increase the ability to choose our results. When choosing leadership, these abilities become responsibilities. The more adversity we overcome, the stronger we become, bringing us more capability to continue the journey and achieve our goals. It is the very definition of empowerment.
Obstacles await us in many forms. They test our will as well as our resources. They separate the wanton from the determined. Obstacles expose the easily frustrated and undisciplined. They systematically measure our desire, resolve and preparedness. Conversely, those same obstacles can lead us to the opportunity we need to accomplish our goals. They oftentimes steer us toward resources that are otherwise unavailable.
Without obstacles we would not grow and learn as much from our experiences. It has often been said that good judgment comes from experience… and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. Obstacles provide ample opportunity for both judgment and experience. My first recommendation on this subject is when you see an obstacle, look for an opportunity – as it lies in hiding nearby. After all, since your optimistic perspectives will be tested, why not engage willingly?
So, here we are. We have had in-depth discussions about motivation, goals, priorities, plans and organizing. But, we already have experience with time management. We have all been using schedules and lists for years. Why have these tools not already created the success we seek? It has been said in many ways but I prefer the simple analogy – A goal without a plan is just a wish. I would take this thought a step further and say a plan without initiative is just a dream. One of the common obstacles people face in deciding how to pursue goals is the question, “Where do I begin?” The second challenge that causes procrastination is, “How do I stay motivated?” Like many good questions, the answer can be found in one word – initiative
“You can do it; it is only mind over matter.” Has anyone ever said that to you? While we are experts at telling people how to run their lives and make decisions, the funny thing is that we rarely apply it to ourselves. What is it that we are so afraid of?
How many times have you been working on a project and imagined a better way to accomplish the task? Do you witness or experience wasted time or other resources? Have you had an ambition that you have yet to develop a plan to pursue? The famous French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” One of the common obstacles people face in pursuing goals is the question, “Where do I begin?” Like many good questions, the answer can be found in one word – organize.
How often have you been halfway through a project only to be sidetracked by unexpected obstacles? Can you count the times you have witnessed valuable resources being wasted from inefficient planning? I imagine we have all experienced the project where we were met with unexpected delays and an expanding budget. Waste, unexpected costs and delays can be minimized or completely avoided with proper planning. My favorite quote on this subject is from Abraham Lincoln where he suggests, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Anyone with modest experience setting and pursuing goals can confirm that unexpected obstacles are part of the process. These obstacles often represent delays, detours, forks in the road or even a potential dead end, to the pursuit of our goals. An established set of priorities allow us to maneuver past these obstacles and minimize our distraction.
I have often heard the phrase, "most people major in minor things." I believe the implication is that people tend to be distracted by circumstances rather than focus on the priorities that will produce intended results. A simple (emotional) conflict between desire and need can easily cause us to use time and energy inconsistently with our priorities.
How did we find our way from being uncivilized hunter gatherers to become the cultured, suburbanite, air-conditioned, technology driven, smartphone using, Facebook consumers we are today? While the "big picture" answer might be complex, the simple truth is we got here by repeating a process. Everything humans have created originated from identifying a possibility, need or desire (motive), and pursuing a solution or satisfaction to that need or desire (goal or volition).
The common definitions are;
Motive: a need or desire that causes a person to act
Goal: the end toward which effort is directed: aim
Volition: the cognitive process by which an individual decides on and commits to a particular course of action
Do you know what you really want? What determines the choices you will make? Do you know people who act on compulsions, emotions or habits that fail to provide the results they want? Understanding motivation is one of the most empowering factors in achieving goals. And whether you are pursuing your own agenda or managing that of many, it is an indispensible tool. Our motivation not only helps us achieve goals, it also touches everything from intent to result. It influences the outcome in every area of our lives and ultimately defines us.