This month we discuss how to find motivation in
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President, Jim Schaffer & Associates
"These are the good old days."
Last month we focused on learning to
daily tasks and not just strive for life's occasional peak
moments. It's so much easier to do that, though, when
the economy is expanding and opportunity fills the air
like the scent of ozone after a thundershower.
But how do you learn to love the plateau
when work consists in large part of doggedly cranking
out the numbers between senior management's
announcements of the latest re-org?
Most of us in Corporate America are waiting right
now for some external event, an inspirational
leader, a hot product, even for summer to be over to
provide motivation and fuel for a new phase of our
careers. Alas, we are waiting, as Samuel Beckett's
characters did throughout much of the last century, for
There is an old saying: "When you meet the Buddha
in the road, kill him." The answers, the inspiration, will
not come from someone or something outside of
ourselves. It is only by looking within that we will find
Finding these answers and this richness is in
daily practice. San Francisco Zen priest Norman
Fischer, in his new book
Taking Our Places,
urges us to develop the quality of persistence in our
"The real beauty of persistence is that
eventually blossoms into trust. And trust is the secret
ingredient, the magic of our lives. A trust in what is.
And a trust in yourself, confident that whatever
happens, you will be able to make use of it
In other words, he is saying, real inspiration
comes from showing up every day,
sticking to it, and understanding that the results of
what you do may not become evident for a long time,
perhaps even longer than you will be in your current
job. But eventually the results will reveal themselves to
you, uncovering what in Eastern culture is called your
Development of this steadiness, this
will ultimately make us more effective and provide us
with a depth and richness to our careers even in
Persistence should become easier as we get older.
Can't you look back over your career and smile when
you remember both good times and bad, and realize
that the richness and the significance of those
moments came from how you and others behaved, not
from such ephemera as perceived "success"
How, then, in times such as ours, do we turn
persistence into inspiration?There is no easy
answer, but here are some concepts to keep in mind
each day as you show up for work and perform your
- If You're Going to Be Here,
Be Here. In this country, each of us is at
his job by choice. Wouldn't it be foolish to spend your
days thinking about what you dislike about it or what
might be better somewhere else? If you reach a point
at which your job truly does become untenable, you
know the steps to take to get out and you will take
them. Until then, why not just let go of all that
ambivalence and just be here?
- That Was Then, This Is Now. Your past
deserves a place of honor in your own mind if in no-one
else's. But your own vision of where you once were
may not serve you too well right now if you grip it too
tightly. Do you know who one of Fred Astaire's good
friends was in his later years? Michael Jackson.
It would've been easier for Fred to sit in a room with his
awards or to surround himself with only his
contemporaries — instead he insisted on exploring the
present, even when he himself could no longer be the
center of attention
- Every Obstacle Is a Teacher.
You think you've got problems? We know there is
no such thing as a life without them. I can tell you from
experience, though, that if you spend a number of
years approaching your difficult challenges with a quiet
attitude of "What is really going on here? What am I to
learn from this?" you may find yourself smiling at
adversity one day as your colleagues wonder how you
stay so centered in the midst of a maelstrom.
- Choose Your Companions Wisely.
Self-help gurus love to exhort us to "find our
passion." Aren't you sick of that? It's been my
experience that most of us already know what turns us
on, but that's quite a different animal from coming to
work every day for several decades and maintaining
one's motivation. Far more effective is surrounding
ourselves with folks that have a zest for life and give
us the juice to re-locate our own on a daily basis.
Conversely, descending into office politics and gripe
sessions may seem like a harmless release of stress,
but it will drag you down faster than a bad piece of
Right now has the potential to be as rich a
time in your career as any other;
the ability to perceive it as such lies solely within
you.Whether or not your customers behave the
way you'd like, your objectives are met exactly as you
envisioned them, your paycheck looks precisely as you
think it should, you can still develop a deep feeling of
richness by showing up every day, cultivating
persistence, and staying open to what lies in front of
you. Over time, this daily constancy will blossom into
feelings of inner serenity and provide the inspiration you
Bad times? Perhaps. But in a much broader sense
these are the good old days — the only ones we are
Keep the Faith, Babies!
For the lyrics to Anticipation by Carly Simon, click here
||About Jim Schaffer & Associates
Jim Schaffer & Associates helps management teams &
salespeople stay focused, get results and keep high
morale — regardless of what may be going on around
Copyright 2003 by Jim Schaffer & Associates.
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