How Do You Motivate Yourself and Others to Achieve Goals?
By Ashford University Staff
Motivation: Setting goals and having a plan to see them through by using different tools (vision board, having a mentor, or someone who motivates you)
As Ashford’s president, I've been thinking a lot about how we get things done, both in our personal lives and at the University. At the heart of this idea seems to be the concept of motivation. How do you motivate yourself? How do you motivate others? Somebody once said the problem with great ideas is they degenerate into hard work. It is motivation that helps us take ideas and convert them into accomplishments.
From an individual perspective, I think it's important to spend time pondering how one's work contributes to the larger purpose(s) of an organization, and even to society. This mindfulness helps us find meaning in the daily grind – and sometimes it is a grind. As far as getting things done, I find that small tools to encourage discipline are critical. I love lists. I have a list every day when I go to work. Often, it's the same list I bring home at night. Although I know what I want to try and focus on, sometimes the daily activity drives out the planned activity. I do a bigger list every week that helps me remain focused and pay attention to the right things. Try to do the most important task first, even if it is the most difficult. If you're not careful, you can end up doing mundane tasks such as cleaning your desk, ensuring your printer cartridges are full, or responding to emails before you actually start that big report.
The other side of motivation is helping people who work with you, and for you, accomplish their goals. This is typically called “leadership.” Leaders can be found anywhere within an organization, and it is not necessary for a leader to have a formal leadership role/title to be considered a leader. In my opinion, a leader is an individual who helps others accomplish things beyond expectation. I consider this skill to be both a science and an art.
I am always reminded of the story of the three bricklayers. The first bricklayer is slowly placing brick after brick onto a wall. When asked, he says he's building a wall. The second bricklayer is working a bit faster and whistling while he works. When asked what he’s doing, he replies he's building a lovely building. The third bricklayer is singing, working hard, and moving fast. When asked what he’s doing, he says “I'm building a beautiful church that is a temple to God on earth.” When you are able to help people understand that their work is part of something greater and the goal is to help others, it is very motivating. It is also beneficial when you share with others what the rewards may be for accomplishment. Rewards not just for ourselves, but for the people we serve. Finally, when trying to motivate others, it is important to respect and listen to them so they feel they have value, they bring value, and they are valued.
Motivation is a tricky but critical skill. Whether driving ourselves to accomplish our goals or helping others accomplish things, we need to reflect on how important it is to feel motivated and to be a motivator. If an individual puts forth his or her heart and works hard, more tasks get done. I have always been lucky to work in organizations where I think my work is valuable, and I hope you feel the same.
Dr. Richard L. Pattenaude is the President and CEO of Ashford University.