Motivation – Let your team inspire you
I believe true motivation comes from within. It’s the internal desire to want to do something. Outside influences like fear (you’re fired) or greed (bonus money) last only so long. Therefore it’s not in my power to motivate others. I can encourage and attempt to inspire but I can’t make someone want to do something. Instead, I think motivation operates in reverse. Ideally, once the coach or leader gets to know his team, he develops a love and affection for them, not unlike that of a parent. This causes the leader to try to do anything for his team. His players, picking up on that love and enthusiasm, respond. They then want to please their coach and start performing better. This leads to a continuing upward spiral of success.
A perfect example of this type of motivation is when my daughter Nicole was first placed in my arms after her birth. As a first time parent, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was overwhelmed with love. I remember how impressed I was with her calm demeanor. Everyone at the hospital commented on how alert she was when she was awake, and that has continued to be the case. My love for her has motivated me to do the very best for her, and that’s how it is with my team.
When I first started to coach however, I thought I had the old dictatorial style of motivation all figured out. I marched into practice the very first day and laid down the law. This is the way it’s going to be. These are the rules to follow, which I had written out ahead of time, before ever meeting the players. As I glanced up to see how my message was being received, I saw eyes rolling. It was as if the players were saying, “Come on, Coach. We just want to play chess.” I made the mistake of projecting my goals upon them rather than letting them arrive at them on their own.
So I backed off and started to get to know my players. What a neat bunch of kids! They were smart, funny and individually responded to a wide range of motivators. One size clearly did not fit all. Probably the most satisfying part of coaching for me has been the individual relationships formed with my players over the years. I look at them as life-long friends who I hope will always feel free to get back in touch with me as a mentor, a reference and a friend. I’d go to the ends of the earth for my kids, and I hope they know it.
Eric Nager is an Investment Advisor Representative with Southern Capital Services and the author of “Checklist for Checkmate: 15 Keys to Building a Successful Team” (2012, Southeastern Press), available on Amazon.com. The above is an excerpt. Eric can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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