At Lean Labs, we have a motto we strive to keep: "Good enough" is no longer good enough.
Doing things amazingly well is what makes company's successful today. You must do great marketing, provide excellent customer service, and ultimately have a product or service that makes your customers' lives better.
Amazon has no stores, yet it's the largest retailer in the nation. What makes Amazon different than all the other failed retailer stores out there? Timing is one factor, but the more important factor is they made their customer's lives better.
For every Amazon, there are 500 other companies trying to do the same thing. If you're going to help your company succeed in the face of all that competition, you need to be empowered to deliver your very best work every day.
5 Silent Killers of Motivation
Regardless, the secret to being your best every day is not always in generating motivation. Most of the time, it's easy to stay motivated if we can remove the silent killers of our motivation.
1. Bad Goals
As we've talked about before, goals have to be challenging, but they must also be measurable and attainable. A goal that is impossible to reach is not a goal; it's a dream.
If you don't have challenging goals, you will not be motivated to do your best work. Because there is nothing to achieve.
If your goals are unrealistic, you will not be motivated to do your best work. There's nothing more depressing than knowing you cannot reach the bar for success. If you know you can't do it, there's no reason to push yourself to do it.
You need well-planned goals that require your best effort to reach - but you have to believe you can achieve them.
2. No Celebration of Wins
I'm from Seattle, and I was so sad to watch Russell Wilson walk off the field at the end of the Super Bowl last year. A lot of people second-guess the call, but there are several things that could have changed the outcome of that last play.
Listening to Wilson after the game, he was ready to start training for the next year. He was unsatisfied, he was hungry for a win, he was disappointed with the outcome.
You know who wasn't feeling that way? The rookie who intercepted Russell Wilson in the end zone.
After the game, he was looking forward to interviews, parties, and the victory parade!
It's just as important to celebrate victories as it is to push yourself harder to win the next time. If you reach a challenging goal, give yourself a pat on the back. Celebrate that win!
For some people, a win is never good enough. It's those people who are thinking, "I just won the Super Bowl, but I'm not happy because I want to win 30 of them!" You just won the stinkin' Super Bowl!
It's that celebration, the reward of victory, that motivates us to experience it again. Don't let the party pooper who is never satisfied ruin the celebration of your victory. If you listen to him, you will be less than excited about reaching the next milestone - because he won't be happy then either.
3. Unscheduled Time Wasters
I remember working at a company, where at any time of the day, the boss would gather everyone up with a call, "everyone to the conference room!" To say the least, there was never a lot of excited workers skipping into the room.
Most of the time, this meant listening to the boss talk about his ideas so we could give him positive reinforcement. Then, it was time to go back and try to complete the important work we were doing before the interruption.
Do your best to keep distraction from killing your performance.
At Lean Labs, we all hang out in HipChat while we're working. But this brings the potential of someone sending you a message, asking you a question, and soliciting collaboration. All of those things are great!
But, when you are in the zone, you don't want to stop what you're doing to give someone "feedback." Thanks to HipChat, this is easily avoided by putting yourself as "Do Not Disturb." You can also put a little note that says why you shouldn't be disturbed.
For instance, I'm DND right now with a note, "writing." This lets my coworkers know I'm heads-down on writing an article, and they shouldn't disturb me unless of an emergency.
For some of you, you're not on a distributed team. Consider putting up a sign, or otherwise communicating when you are heads-down. Ask your coworkers to honor your signal so you can cut out that distraction.
You also need to avoid Facebook, YouTube, News websites, and any other distraction that calls to you.
4. Treading Water Instead of Swimming
If you've never read The War of Art, you should. It has my favorite quote in its pages:
It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is resistance.
There are all kinds of reasons not to focus on what needs to be done. There are always important tasks to do that will move you toward your goals. Then, there are 5,000 other things that are urgent, important, or past due.
Most of the time, getting to those "other things," are what keep us from doing the work that matters. It's easier to write 5,000 words replying to all those old emails than it is to write 1,000 words for a blog post.
The desire to write for the emails is the call of resistance. It's that thing that wants to keep you focusing on the wrong thing, and spending time treading water than swimming.
Identify the things you need to do to move you toward your goals. Focus on those things first, every single day, and complete the tasks that need done before spending any time on the other things.
Cut with a vengeance the resistance from your workday. Otherwise, you will work your fingers to the bone, and at the end of the month, you will be disappointed in your progress.
5. The Unimproved Self
If you're not better next year than you were this year, how can you face the next year with anticipation? If you don't know more next month than you know right now, what value can you continue adding to your company?
Being valuable is a key variable to being motivated. If you know you're doing good, and that you are providing value to your company and clients, you can continue to pump out great work.
When you're unsure of whether or not you're important, or if someone in your company might be replacing you, it's probably because you're not growing.
Strive to learn new things, push yourself to be better. Read books. Watch talks from thought leaders in your space. Study those who are having success and try to glean from their insights.
Personally, I love reading books. It's the best way to learn, in my opinion. I strive to read a book a week, if possible. And I always read with a highlighter in hand to capture my favorite content. Then, I take that book and transfer everything I highlighted into a journal which is categorized by field. I have a journal for leadership, in which I just copied down insights from a book called Winning With People, by John Maxwell.
As I write my favorite parts down in the journal, it helps me to remember them. Also, whenever I need information regarding a subject, I just grab the correct journal, and I've got a wealth of the very best information from the very best thought leaders in the world.
What is your method of learning?
Doing Your Best Work All the Time
Staying motivated doesn't happen by accident. You have to cut toxic people out of your day. You have to avoid those traps that capture your time and distract you from doing what matters. You must have a clear vision of where you are going, and how you're going to get there with well-planned goals. Then, you have to make yourself follow through and do the things you know will keep your moving toward those goals.
It take self-discipline to cut out motivation-killers. But when you do that, and you focus on surrounding yourself with motivation-boosters, you will be able to do your best work. Every. Single. Day.
What are some things that kill your motivation? Share them with us so we can all learn to avoid them.