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Need Motivation? Try The Power of Why

How do your strengths get in the way of coaching and mentoring those around you?question mark

  • Leaders who easily see the best course of action in complex situations may “tell” rather than giving an employee enough time to reason it through
  • Leaders great at “reading a room” may shift course so quickly that others don’t have time to learn to pick up on others’ feelings and motivations
  • Leaders with excellent time management skills may plan everything for everyone
  • Leaders who handle stress well may not recognize when others are stressed and need to develop coping strategies

If you don’t see your particular strength on this quick list, think through what you do well. What might it keep others from learning to do? And most important, Why do they need to learn those skills?

You see, one of the most powerful motivators for changing your own behavior is remembering why you want to change it. Write it down. Put the reason somewhere where you’ll see it until it naturally comes to mind before you fall into the traps of your own strengths. WHY is more powerful than feeling guilty, or promising yourself you’ll do things differently next time. In The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal shares research on the compelling motivation of calling to mind the reason you set a goal.

  • When tempted by that donut in the break room, remember why you are avoiding it. Don’t say, “I can’t have it,” but “I’m holding out for a homemade chocolate cupcake with salted-caramel icing at home tonight.”
  • When you’re tempted to skip yoga class, remember how much better you sleep on the nights you attend.
  • When you’re tempted to end a meeting quickly with, “Here’s what we’ll do,” remember that your employees need to make decisions to learn to make decisions
  • Before you dismiss someone else’s concerns over the stress a project is creating, remember that listening to their viewpoint and asking powerful questions to help them reflect on ways to cope or gain more control will help them in the long run.

Take the time to articulate the “Why” behind your goals in a succinct sentence, without generalities such as empowerment or trust or productivity. Get specific and you just may find motivation in that clear-cut “Why.”

Jane Kise is a consultant and executive coach. The founder of Differentiated Coaching Associates and author of over 20 books, she works with schools and businesses worldwide to help create environments where everyone can flourish.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hi Jane. This is a valuable reminder to us all. No matter nice we think our shoes are we can still regularly trip over our own feet and make a mess! I will aim to be very mindful of my unintentional bad habits. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, Sue. I know for example that if I remind myself when crafting talks that being explicit about the point of each example or anecdote of the “why” of not leaving it to others to draw conclusions, it’s so much easier to remember to take that last step!

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