Motivation is such a vast topic that it cannot belong to one author. Thankfully, awareness of the importance of motivation is growing, and there are many fabulous authors contributing to our understanding of what motivation is, why we need it, and how we can harness and improve our motivation levels.
In Motivated by Mark Terrell, Motivational Maps Business Practitioner and creator of The Reluctant Leader Academy, we see that motivation is the foundation that underpins every other element of business. His tripartite model for leadership is centred around three core elements: “you”, your teams, and the business all working in harmony. Though his book is aimed at business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders (reluctant ones, in fact!), what’s clear is that without personal motivation, everything else falls apart.
“If not addressed, a lack of focus on leading, managing and developing your team will lead to the problems of having an unhappy, disengaged, and unproductive team. Your time will be taken up dealing with low morale, and you’ll wonder why you bothered employing people at all.”
But why do so many of us struggle to focus on leading when we start our own business? Mark Terrell has the disarmingly simple answer:
“Not wanting to be in charge is often linked to a focus on other things, or in other words, it is way down the list of priorities, and subsequently is done badly or not at all.”
These other priorities are likely related to our other motivators. For example, if we want to create, and that is our foremost and primary motivator, how likely are we to want to spend copious amounts of time handling queries from our employees? Not very.
Mark Terrell suggests that re-connecting with the original motive (and note how he draws attention to the etymological link between the word motive and motivation) for starting a business, we can re-invigorate our sense of purpose, and get a new perspective.
“As time goes by and as our commitment to the business increases, it’s easy to forget what it was because we now relate more to our current circumstances.”
This is so well observed. We may start a business because, for example, we want “more free time”. However, often, the process of making a business fully operational and even self-sufficient means extraordinary amounts of work, which actually reduces our free time! The more determined we become to make the business work (i.e. “as our commitment to the business increases”), the more we actually move away from our initial motive (or in other words: away from what motivates us). When we move away from what motivates us, we lose energy, which in turn makes it harder and harder to “show up” and keep working on the business. In fact, we may even begin to resent the business and become disillusioned with it. We may feel it is a burden and drain, not the liberation we once hoped.
Motivated succinctly and pragmatically illustrates this all-too-relatable problem, but thankfully, also provides succinct and pragmatic solutions. It begins, according to Terrell, with the Self. Quoting Marcus Aurelius, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
We have to identify our biggest obstacle, and solve it, if we are to move forward. But what is interesting about this book in comparison to so many self-help or business books out there is that rather than talking about external obstacles, such as economic trends, technological disruption, or competitors, Terrell discusses the internal obstacles:
“What do you think your biggest obstacle is? It could be tasks that you regard as mundane even though they are vital to the business, or maybe money isn’t something you strive for, and consequently, the cash flow in the business is tight.”
Of course, internal obstacles are far more potent barriers. Firstly, because we are often totally unaware of them. And secondly, because our thoughts, our mind, entirely shapes reality. There are many ways both scientific and spiritual of referring to this phenomenon, which has been observed in cultures as diverse as non-dual Buddhism and quantum physics. Mark Terrell describes it as our “filters”.
“We all have filters specific to us that allow us to act on information we see as relevant to us. This is why we can experience the same event as someone else, but their recollection of it could be totally different to ours. Once those filters have done their work, we then make an internal representation using our thoughts, which leads to our state of thinking, which leads to a behaviour. With this is mind, we need to be able to control our filters by being focused on what we really want.”
And getting to what we want is really the issue here. Otherwise, why start a business in the first place! In order to do that, however, we have to become the best version of ourselves, and the best leaders we can be. Thankfully, leadership and motivation, according to Mark Terrell, are not inherent traits we can do nothing about, but something we can develop:
“There is an adage that says leaders are born, not made, which is nonsense.”
A hugely encouraging thought!
You can purchase a copy of MOTIVATED from The Reluctant Leader Academy