Getting through the toughest of times requires this critical ingredient for success

Oliver finds the rug useful as a scratching post.

I started the year with high hopes for two projects: both have come to fruition but with very different paths. Braiding a rug is familiar territory to me, which made it easy to move forward. But making a video series was a whole new experience, presenting many challenges because of my steep learning curve, that brought lots of discouraging moments. Maintaining my motivation was never an issue, despite the ongoing set-backs along the way. Holding a sense of purpose and desire is the key for getting through the tough times.

September has rolled around and despite the 90+ degree temperatures we’ve been experiencing in New Hampshire, I know that the fall season is right around the corner. Summer vacations are coming to an end, kids are back to school, and it feels like it’s time to get serious about year-end goals.

My first blog post of 2015 announced to the world that I had plans to “create.” Employing the idea of a one-word mantra to help you achieve your goals, I had chosen the word ‘create’ to reflect both personal and professional aspirations for 2015. In recent years, I had gotten away from some of my fabric and sewing-related hobbies, so I committed to making a wool braided rug for our kitchen. I had the itch to get back to some of the activities that I enjoy so much.

Professionally, I was on the threshold of pulling together a video training program, an idea that I’d had in my head for more than a year, and in January, I felt I was so close that I boldly said to readers that I’d be announcing more about it in a “few weeks.”

Oh my. Time does fly.

It’s not that I haven’t been working on that video project. Believe me, I have! Starting in earnest last October, I began the journey. The concept was relatively simple, but as I peeled back the layers of each aspect, it became more and more complex. I kept hitting hurdles. In May, I wrote this post where I acknowledged the challenges I was facing with the project. One obstacle followed another, including hiccups with the format, scripts, production, lighting, editing, website integration. You name it, I experienced it. There were points when I felt that I would never get to a point of satisfaction with my work. At times, I was discouraged, other times invigorated. Ranging from solo trial-and-error experiments to enlisting help from experts providing services, I carried on, not really knowing the outcome or end date.

I never considered stopping, but it would have been much easier to quit.

What kept me going? I wish I could boast some extraordinary personality trait or exceptional prize guaranteed at the end. Neither existed. I had no super powers granted to me nor any idea how things would end up.  It was simply a belief that the idea was good and I should make it happen.

When we try to find motivation for our employees, we often make it too complicated. We offer gifts, bribes, or treats that we think someone wants. How many times have business trips to exotic places been flashed about as a coveted award, yet the individual has no aspirations to travel to that place at all? Recognition of a task well-done is one thing, using artificial means to get someone to act only aggravates the situation. Managers need to discover what matters most to the employee.

If the work isn’t satisfying, no amount of coercion is going to be effective. Your job as a manager is to put people in jobs that truly suit their skills and interests. When that is in place,  you don’t have to worry about motivating. It will happen automatically, no matter how many obstacles get in the way.

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