To increase an individuals and teams performance there must be a desire, dream, hope or aspiration that fuels behavior. There is always a motivation and a payoff for behaving in the ways we do. For Bernie Madoff it seems to have been greed, and for Pope Francis it seems to be the desire to share the love, generosity and joy of Catholicism. Two different motivations produce two different outcomes.
What motivates you can get muddled by the pressures of the world of work. But when you strip away the demands and pressures of the never ending to-do list, there is a hope, dream and aspiration that is waiting to be fulfilled. It is locked away in between our ears and rarely sees the light of day. Why? Because too often we are afraid our hope, dream or aspiration will never be accomplished. In turn, it remains hidden away where it can’t be seen and most importantly can’t disappoint us with its lack of accomplishment.
And therein lies the problem. The hope, dream or aspiration that can inspire our thinking, that can infuse our work with courage and that can put a bounce in our step, remains hidden from our everyday personal and professional lives. Without an overarching hope, dream or aspiration we devolve to what Thoreau described as “quiet lives of desperation” where we “go to the grave with the song still in us.”
My greatest hope, dream or aspiration is to help people flourish. To that end I have three questions I believe will help you know what truly motivates you.
1. If your life were guaranteed to be exactly the same over the next five years as it has been over the last five years, would you sign up for that? If yes, why? If not, why not?
2. What is your greatest hope, dream or aspiration personally and professionally? Is there a connection between your answer to question one and question two? If so, what’s the connection?
3. What is it that captures the majority of you mental bandwidth? What is it that you are striving for, working toward and making plans around? Does this uplift you and leave you invigorated? Or, does it leave you anxious and depleted?
These questions are a great first step in moving toward knowing your highest hope, dream or aspiration. But the real question is, do you want to maintain the life you have now? Or, would you like for your life to be appreciably different? If you want it to be different, get busy answering these three questions.