Motivation Gets You Going — Discipline Keeps You Growing
"The hallmark of excellence, the test of greatness, is consistency." -- Jim Tressel
The truth about personal growth is that motivation can only get you started, it’s discipline that keeps you on the right track. It doesn’t matter how motivated you are or how talented you are or even how many opportunities you have; if you want to grow, consistency is the key.
What Do You Need if You Want to Improve?
You must develop yourself if you expect to have success in any area of your life, but “success” is going to look different for every person reading this and that’s okay. The question is, what does success look like for you?
“The successful person has the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do. The successful person doesn’t like doing them either, but his dislike is subordinated to the strength of his purpose.”
And here in E.M. Gray’s quote, we get the key to defining success and what we need if we want to improve. Did you catch it?
The more tuned in you are to your purpose and the more dedicated you are to growing toward it, the more likely it is that you will reach your potential, expand your possibilities and do something significant!
Take a moment to write down what you believe your purpose is. If you’re not sure, consider the following:
Your purpose uses your unique gifts, strengths, and experiences. It is something you do well and comes naturally to you.
While your purpose should enrich your life and be satisfying to you; ultimately, your purpose should be about how you uniquely serve the world and make it better in some way. How is someone’s life better because they crossed your path? How is your company better because you work there? How is your family better because you’re in it?
For example, my purpose is to inspire others to have more fulfilling lives and more meaningful relationships, both personally and professionally.
How Are You Going to Improve?
According to John Maxwell, in order to grow, most people need knowledge, experience, and coaching. Here are his four suggestions for getting started:
Match Your Motivation to Your Personality and Strengths
Not everyone is motivated the same way or by the same things so the best thing you can do is start by understanding yourself. By tapping into your unique personality and strengths, you can set yourself up for success by better understanding what motivates you and how you can work smarter, not harder.
I, personally and professionally, recommend the Maxwell DISC Method for understanding your personality and Gallup’s CliftonStrengths for sorting out what your unique and natural talents are.
Start With the Simple Stuff
Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time. If you want to grow, don’t focus on the big wins, but rather on small wins.
Andrew Wood once said, “where many people go wrong in trying to reach their goals is in constantly looking for the big hit, the home run, the magic answer that suddenly transforms their dreams into reality. The problem is that the big hit never comes without a great deal of little hits first. Success in most things comes not from some gigantic stroke of fate, but from simple, incremental progress.”
Patience is not something that comes naturally to most of us and we live in a world that is increasingly reliant on instant gratification. But when it comes to personal growth, instant gratification is simply not realistic.
Everything that is worthwhile takes time and dedication and the people who grow and achieve the most are the ones who learn how to master the art of patience.
Value the Process
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to cultivate the ability to value and enjoy the process of growth. As previously stated, personal growth doesn’t happen in an instant; in fact, personal growth takes a lifetime.
Charlene Armitage said it best, “Life goals are reached by setting annual goals. Annual goals are reached by reaching daily goals. Daily goals are reached by doing things which may be uncomfortable at first but eventually become habits. Habits are powerful things. Habits turn actions into attitudes, and attitudes into lifestyles.”
“Most people never realize how close they are to achieving significant things, because they give up too soon.” -- John C. Maxwell
Why Do You Want to Keep Improving?
Having a strong “why” will help you keep going when the discipline of growth becomes difficult, discouraging, or tedious. If your growth is connected to your values, your dreams, and to your purpose, you’ll have a better understanding of why you’re doing it and you’ll be more likely to follow through.
Take a moment to answer the following questions:
Do you constantly procrastinate on important tasks?
Do you require coaxing to do small chores?
Do you perform duties just to get by?
Do you constantly talk negatively about your work?
Do the efforts of others to encourage you irritate you instead?
Do you start small projects and abandon them?
Do you avoid self-improvement opportunities?
If you answered “yes” to many of these questions, your why isn’t solid or strong enough to motivate you to consistently grow in those areas you were thinking of when you answered the question.
You have to give yourself more and bigger why’s so you can keep wanting to put in the effort to grow.
Take a look at the purpose you wrote down for yourself, the one that involves also making a difference in the lives of others.
Write down in specific detail what your best life looks like, both personally and professionally.
Write down as many why’s as you can think of that connect your purpose and life vision to the growth you want to achieve. Think of immediate benefits. Think of long-term benefits. Think of how it will help you relationally, vocationally, spiritually, etc.
When you make the right choices — however small — and do them consistently over time, it can make a huge difference in your life. If you remember “why” you’re making those choices, it becomes easier. Any reason to grow is a good reason so long as it’s YOUR reason.
When Are You Supposed to Improve?
I love how John Maxwell writes, “people do not decide their future; they decide their habits and their habits decide their future.”
When do you need to improve? The obvious answer is RIGHT NOW. In the words of Leo Buscaglia, “life lived for tomorrow will always be just a day away from being realized.” So if you haven’t started, get to it and do it daily because you will never change your life until you change something you do daily.
What are doing daily that needs to change? What needs doing? What needs undoing? What are you willing to change doing today in order to change what you will be doing tomorrow?
Goal Vs Growth Consciousness
Consistency isn’t easy, but to be successful we need to learn how to do it. You must figure out what works for you and what doesn’t, but for John Maxwell, and for me as well, it was switching from a “goal” mentality to a “growth” mentality.
Goal mentality focuses on a destination and is often seasonal. While it does motivate you and challenges you, it also stops when the goal is reached.
Growth mentality focuses on the journey and is lifelong. Instead of simply motivating and challenging you, it matures and changes you and you continue to grow beyond the goals that you have set.
John Maxwell says, “If you can believe in yourself and the potential that is in you, and then focus on growth instead of goals, there’s no telling how far you can grow. You just need to consistently put in the work as you keep believing in yourself.”