John was a teenager when his father died at the age of 56. Now in his 40s and 30 pounds overweight, he was concerned about his own health. Knowing that I have a daily gym regimen, he spoke to me about his new found motivation for losing weight.
“I always felt my dad died well before his time,” he said. “He could have had so much more time with his family and accomplished so much more. I can’t imagine leaving my kids so soon. So I have GOT to get myself in better shape. I HAVE to eat better and lose weight. I won’t let my kids lose me the way I lost my dad.”
John was well motivated. His love for his family was evident and I could sense his angst about his health. But it really sounded to me like he was cracking the whip over himself; driving himself with what might even be called threats. “Do this, or else,” I thought. “Get healthy, or die!” In support of him, I told him I would check in with him over the next couple of weeks to see how he was progressing. When we reconnected, I asked how it was going.
“Overall it’s going well,” he said. “I’m working out and eating better. It’s hard to get myself going, but I am committed to getting healthy. I don’t really want to go to the gym, but every time I think about not going I think about my kids not having their dad. It’s hard, but I know I have to do it. I can’t miss any workouts but I wish there was an easier way.”
“Actually, there is,” I said. “And it has nothing to do with pills or surgery. It is a simple matter of mind shift.” John was intrigued.
The challenge John was having wasn’t with regard to his schedule or changing his routines or eating habits. The challenge John was having was in his motivation. On the surface, John’s motivation was his family. But underneath that, what was John’s true motivation?
The answer is fear. In my experience, there are only two things that motivate me: Love, or fear. I’m either striving for or doing something because I love something, or because I fear something. John was afraid to leave his children without a father and his wife without a husband. My invitation to John was to shift his mind and motivation to love.
By releasing the fear of leaving his family and embracing the love of being with them, John discovered that it was much easier to do the things he felt would extend, and improve the quality of, his life. Going to the gym seemed easier. Eating healthier was more enjoyable. And because a healthy emotional state is in alignment with a healthier lifestyle and is likely to contribute to his longevity, “it just made sense,” as he put it.
John shared this mind shift with his wife and the last time I saw him, he told me that when he told his wife that he was going to the gym, she put a single fist in the air and said, “Do it for the love!”
This is important in business as well as in life. People seem to work better for bosses or organizations they love than they do ones they fear. While fear can be a great short-term motivator, it breeds dissonance. And eventually it will likely cause burn-out. Love breeds resonance. And while being motivated by love won’t necessarily always make what we’re doing easy, it will keep us going and exponentially increase our chances of success.
What are you currently working on? What is driving you? Is it the fear of what happens if you don’t do it, or the love of succeeding in your endeavors? Comment here and share your story.
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