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Definition of the word of the week (MOTIVATIONAL): A leader who provides an incentive; moves to action; impels

The great football coach, Vince Lombardi, once said, “Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate.” A motivational leader inspires others to be more and do more than they otherwise would. So, what motivates people?

Motivation is derived from both external and internal sources. The external sources are almost always less effective. Motivating people with threats is counterproductive and money is not the answer either. Using money to motivate people tends to bring out the worst people and the worst in people. That is why a mercenary army will almost always lose to a group of patriots devoted to a cause, even when the mercenaries clearly outnumber the patriots.

The best motivation is internal to each one of us. Greg Anderson, author of The 22 Non-Negotiable Laws of Wellness once wrote, “When we are motivated by goals that have deep meaning, by dreams that need completion, by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live life.” Consequently, a great motivational leader will envision a noble goal and inspire subordinates to embrace it. He will dream great dreams and encourage subordinates to share that dream and he will help them to pursue their own dreams.

Most importantly, love motivates others. Sharing that love can be as simple as using the word “and” instead of the word “but.” It will take some time to develop this skill AND it is worth it. For example, a young student excels in all academic subjects and the report card indicates that the student talks too much in class. How should the parents respond? Perhaps they say, “Suzie, you did really well in your academic classes BUT you must try to be more quiet in class and pay attention.” Or, could the parents say something like, “Suzie, you did really well in your academic classes and we are proud that you are willing to help your fellow students with their studies. Perhaps you should talk to your teachers about the most appropriate way of helping others.”

As the American author, Les Brown, noted, “Life takes on meaning when you become motivated, set goals and charge after them in an unstoppable manner.”

The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing. Harriet Braiker, Psychologist

You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things – to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals. Sir Edmund Hillary, Mountaineer

The only way to get people to like working hard is to motivate them. Today, people must understand why they’re working hard. Every individual in an organization is motivated by something different. Rick Pitino, Basketball coach

The innovation point is the pivotal moment when talented and motivated people seek the opportunity to act on their ideas and dreams. W. Arthur Porter

Strong lives are motivated by dynamic purposes; lesser ones exist on wishes and inclinations. Kenneth Hildebrand, Author

We are motivated by a keen desire for praise, and the better a man is the more he is inspired by glory. The very philosophers themselves, even in those books that they write in contempt of glory, inscribe their names. Marcus Cicero, Roman orator

COL Patrick Beer, the Dean of Students and Commandant of Cadets at Georgia Military College, prepares this study guide each week as part of the institution’s character education program. He welcomes comments and suggestions from readers. He can be contacted by phone at 478-445-2710 or by email at