It's all in the mind

The power within

It's all in the mind

I am an upbeat and enthusiastic person. But sadly, only on rare occasions! There are moments when I am highly enthused and energised. Again, such moments are few and far in-between. The real scene is that most of the time I fail to lift myself to heights I know I can rise and remain there on a permanent basis.

And in this incongruent state where my daily activities are misaligned with my deepest conviction of living life to the fullest, I know I am not alone. We all miss the boat, time and again. We exist without living. We notice the world around us, without really seeing. We hear the constant buzz on the outside and yet do not exactly listen to any of its messages. We relate to people without actually communicating. Our minds are filled with thoughts, fleeting and irrelevant, but lacking in persistence and substance. Though our days are busy, they are headed nowhere. In spite of our best intentions to soar high, and come out in flying colours, the monotonous regularity of falling short of our best capabilities plagues our spirit. It is a vicious circle, for sure, for the vast majority of us!

What is the missing link in completing the puzzle of our lives effectively as we would wish it to be? Just where are we missing the whole point to life? What are the holes in our life boats that let the troubled waters of discouragement enter and cause the boat to sink? When violent storms, fierce tempests and mighty waves proved no obstacles for a few heroes who braved the weather to arrive at the greener pastures of life, why is it that an average man fails to see beyond the momentary grey clouds that loom in the horizon of life?

Thinkers and life-coaches point to many reasons for this deadlock to life that most of us face. But the primary pointer to mediocre lives can be encapsulated in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American writer: “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

So, we wait for motivation and encouragement. We procrastinate for want of opportunities and the right timing. We await the appearance of Godfathers and mentors. We put off exploring prospects, anticipating the right environment and conducive climate. We look for offers and invitations. We hanker for approval and backing. In reality, then, we are waiting all our lives hoping for something or someone to emerge out of a mirage and quench our thirst for fulfilment and accomplishment, while all the time missing out on the oasis flowing within us. The storehouse of untapped abilities inside of us goes unnoticed and unstimulated. The repository of gifts and goodness lie dormant in our cells. We fail to dig deep and generate enough power to give ourselves to life. It is true, we simply lack the art of self-motivation.

It’s your life, make it large

She was born on the wrong side of the tracks and her father left before she was born. At a tender age of five years, due to a condition called pre-femoral focal disorder, her right leg was amputated below the knee. She recalls “growing up in hospitals and in leg braces.” Her stepfather sexually abused her. She faced several challenges and surmounted many hurdles on the way to the one dream she wanted to realise. “A big, outrageous dream,” as she put it, setting her sights on qualifying to compete in the 1984 Disabled Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. Years later, upon realising her dream, she recalls, “Standing on the winner’s platform in Innsbruck, Austria, as the silver medal was hung around my neck, I could hear the national anthem playing and see the Stars and Stripes fluttering behind me in the frosty night air. Dreams of that moment had pulled me through all the tough times.”

Bonnie St. John Deane became the first African-American to win medals in Winter Paralympic competition as a ski racer. She has several other credentials to her name and has never ceased to add numerous feathers to her cap. She has excelled as an athlete, scholar, author, speaker, mother and business woman. Her disability and the numerous hardships that arose out of it never once came in the way of her accomplishments. “Who or what motivates you,” she has been asked time and again. Each time she has the same answer, which she delivers with diction and assertion: “I motivate me.”

These are perhaps the three strongest words that hundreds of champions with disabilities, shortcomings, obstacles, doubts and fears have used to scale the heights and achieve what others in similar circumstances would have never been motivated into doing. It has been with this powerful tool of self-motivation that they have overcome their external limitations, prevailed over their inner inertia and surmounted the skepticism of the outside world in their achievements and laurels.

These pros became self-taught, self-made, self-trained, self-improved, self-disciplined and self-driven, leaning on no one and seeking no other assistance other than the muscle of their inner strength. For, deep within, they knew that they were, just as anyone else, a unique creation of God. They had the inner sight to recognise their core endowments, despite their other limitations. They learnt to transcend every disadvantage to push themselves forward. The art of self-motivation came naturally to them as they possessed the ability to visualise their life beyond any limiting factors. They were clearly suffused with the very personal and motivational mantra: “It’s your life, make it large.”

Inner potential

Motivation, which is the drive or the stimulus behind our every action, comes from various quarters of our lives. Parents, teachers, bosses, leaders and others in a capacity to wield an influence on us are constantly driving and pushing us to unleash our greater self. Even so, if there is no inner drive and motivation, the external impetus, however compelling, can never fortify us wholly to reach the shores of greatness. It is only when the spark within us is fanned by our own inner motivation to get a fire going that we will bring to pass the blaze of our greatness.

And how do we keep this inner fire alive? How do we create the zest, passion and energy to lift us out of the doldrums stifling us all day? How do we go beyond simply getting through the day?

Putting together the thoughts, theories and thesis in the art of self-motivation, the one basic message that emerges is that, to motivate ourselves the foremost stimulant we need is a big vision or a goal in life. This might sound simplistic, but in reality, most of us do not exactly know what we want out of life. Beyond the obvious objective of attaining happiness and independence, everything else is vague and indefinite. Thus we end up being tossed like a log in the river, moving whichever way the current flows, lacking direction, focus and motivation. On the contrary, when we have a clear goal or know exactly what we want out of life and project that forward into the next two, four, eight or 10 years into the future, then we are fuelling ourselves with enough motivation to step up our gears and align our every activity towards the achievement of that goal. 

Swami Chinmayananda drives this concept eloquently as he says, “We need a greater goal in front of us to inspire us and the higher the goal, the greater the enthusiasm. We discover new resources of energy welling up in ourselves... we can look up to that goal and draw inspiration from it for our actions.”

James Collins and Jerry Porras in their book entitled Built to last: Successful habits of visionary companies, talk about the same idea through an interesting concept, termed BHAG (pronounced BEE-hag). It’s the acronym for ‘Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal’ that the authors define as “an audacious 10-to-30-year goal to progress towards an envisioned future.” They go on to vouch that BHAG will create focus and energy for any organisation. A BHAG accordingly encourages companies to define visionary goals that are more strategic and emotionally compelling. A BHAG in personal lives too can help us stay motivated and spirited all our lives. If our goals can be big and burly (hairy) and audacious, then we won’t want to sleep until the realisation of that audacious goal. 

The art of self-motivation has also a lot to do with the art of self-visualising. Drawing mental pictures of the persons we would like to be, or the situation we wish to be in, is an exercise that will infuse our lives with constant motivation and drive towards our highest lives. The mental pictures of living in a land where there would be no masters or slaves motivated an endearing man to live his upmost life. The mental pictures of a free India strengthened and motivated a frail man in a loin cloth to live his greatest life, bringing freedom to our motherland from the mighty British.

The mental pictures of a country that would judge its people by the content of their character and not by the colour of their skin motivated a young coloured man to live his highest life, standing up for the rights of his coloured brethren, putting his own life at risk and indeed eventually losing his life for the cause. The mental pictures of living as equals among other whites in the land by abolishing Apartheid motivated a free man to live his best life, notwithstanding the fact that he was bound inside a prison for a good part of his useful life. This sort of visualising or drawing mental pictures or daydreaming is what produced an Abraham Lincoln, a Mahatma Gandhi, a Martin Luther King Jr., a Nelson Mandela, who have all been made immortal today, thanks to the constant self-motivation they generated to keep moving every day, one step at a time, towards their stellar lives.  
Yes we can!

There are several other secondary aids to keep the wheel of self-motivation lubricated and running all our lives. Believing in ourselves, being positive, looking at the sunny side to every situation, viewing failures as learning experiences, remaining curious, doing away with pessimism, staying connected to well-motivated people, keeping abreast with inspiring books and listening to motivational talks and lectures can all collectively help us in fine-tuning the art of self-motivation.

In addition, developing a sense of commitment to the way we spend our daily waking hours will help us stay motivated on a perpetual basis. Nathaniel Branden, the Canadian–American psychotherapist and writer known for his work in the psychology of self-esteem, says that we need to have a commitment to action, in order to stay motivated in life. “Every day, it’s important to ask and answer these questions: ‘What’s good in my life?’ and ‘What needs to be done?’”

Awakening to the art of self-motivation in the end, like every good thing in life, is all about a thrilling discovery — discovery of finding and living the true meaning in life that is relevant to each one’s special calling and endowments. This discovery will motivate and give us that fire in the belly we need to jump out of bed at the crack of dawn every day to live our best lives. Only then, we have found enough motivation in living, and in the process, discovered something worth dying for!

So, let us dig into ourselves, it is where we can find our power; that is where we hold the key for self-motivation, an essential ingredient to a fruitful life. As George Bernard Shaw observed, “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, they make them.”

In conclusion, Ralph Marston, the author of The Daily Motivator, sums up neatly the whole idea behind the art of self-motivation: There is almost no visible difference between the winning athlete and the one who finishes last. They both have the same number of muscles to work with. They both play the game by the same rules, using the same kind of equipment. Yet, the winner is the athlete who does what it takes, who trains day after day, who adds a little extra to each workout, who can visualise crossing the finish line ahead of the rest.

The highest paid salesperson, and the one who rarely makes a sale, both have the same basic skills and resources. The difference is in what they do with what they have. The bestselling novelist and the unpublished writer, both have the same dictionary full of words to work with. The difference is in what they do with what they have.

You already have the raw material for success and achievement. You have what it takes to achieve greatness in anything you desire. Within you is the potential for extraordinary accomplishment. No one is better suited for success than you. Yet, you are the one who must make it happen. You are the one who must make the commitment and do whatever it takes to achieve the greatness of which you are capable. You have what it takes. Make it happen!

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