First Sergeant's Corner: Motivated

  • Published
  • By SMSgt Benjamin Seekell, First Sergeant, AF Life Cycle Management Center
"What drives you? What exactly is the force keeps us striving for new heights and remaining focused day after day?  Simply knowing what motivation is doesn’t mean that you’ll have it when you need it. What we need to do is understand where it comes from. Understanding motivation is one of the most important things we can do in our lives, because it has such a bearing on why we do the things we do and whether we enjoy them or not.” —Clayton Christensen

Motivation is the force that drives us to go above and beyond. Cultivating and maintaining our motivation often boils down to knowing what we want to get out of life. That being said, you can’t become truly motivated until you identify your goals and passions, and in turn we can’t effectively motivate others until we learn what those things are. 

My sons are the classic example of this truth.  Around the dinner table, I often ask them what they want to do with their lives and where they might see themselves in five years. I would often get the same answer of "I don’t know yet dad!”  The follow-up is always to encourage them to find their passions and to share the things that I have observed as I watch them grow. The goal of the exercise is for them to begin putting deliberate thought into what they want out of life as opposed to running the risk of them having to settle for less because they didn’t put the time in beforehand. Additionally, as I learn more and more about who they are as people and what their interests are, I can leverage the wisdom I have gained over the years to place them in positions and situations that facilitate the expansion of those dreams. Once we discover our passions, it’s off to the races and that internal fire kicks into overdrive!

We should be doing the same thing with our Airmen and they’re out there right now waiting for our guidance! Jim Rohn says, “The best motivation is self-motivation.” The guy says, “'I wish someone would come by and turn me on.' What if they don’t show up? You’ve got to have a better plan for your life.”  The message that we should take from this is that most of our motivation comes from within and we must learn how to tap that resource. Otherwise we are leaving the fate of our motivation in the hands of others. Don’t be a bystander, seize the day!

There are many ways to keep motivated but we need to have a strong foundation upon which to build. Here are a few “keys” for success in this endeavor that can be applied universally.

Follow your Passion:  Find what moves you, latch onto it and go all in. There will be many things that get in your way during your journey and having a clear sight picture of your goals will carry you through those times. Commitment is the key here and will be the only thing that continues to light the way and keep those internal fires burning!

Find your Why:  What’s your reason for being here? Understanding why we do what we do is just as important as actually doing it. Ask yourself how “motivated” you are to do something when you don’t know why you’re doing it, as opposed to having a complete understanding of where you fit in and also the buy-in to make it successful.  At our core, we all really just want to feel like we have value. Find your “why” and lean into the wind.

Never Stop Learning:  The moment you think that you know it all is the same moment that you will cease to progress. Motivation is a continuous state of being and we must continue to learn about not only our missions, but the people that we lead. Knowing the mission keeps the ball rolling forward and better knowing our people and what they need motivates them to keep pushing it.

One more quote to leave with you before we step off with renewed purpose. From motivational speaker Les Brown, “Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.”