People often asks me “what drives you to work so hard?” And I always say the same thing, fear. Fear of being a 50 year old and not having achieved the things I wanted to achieve. “But 50 isn’t that old, there’s still time.” There’s not, I’m sorry but I cannot help the over 50s here.
All my life I’ve grafted, sent to work at just 19 I shovelled shit for a living, that sounds bleak but consider that I had being doing it recreationally for 3 years prior to that, I was just pleased my work was finally being recognised. I tended horses, brushing them, keeping the stables clean, keeping them fed and watered. I realised early on that I could communicate with these animals which would make for quite an interesting story. However, I chose not to as I found them quite shallow and self obsessed.
I come from a family of hard workers with my Mum and Dad both holding down part-time employment. But I believe we must work hard in the right way, “work smart” some business people may say. Get knocked down 10 times get back up 11. No no no get knocked down once play dead and wait for the danger to pass and then get up, that’s what I learnt from working with those egotistical and I’ll say it, RACIST horses.
Hard work doesn’t necessarily equal success, you need to use your time wisely and work on the elements of yourself and your work that need to be improved. A triathlete does not spend all of his or her time just practising the swimming discipline but all of the many many many disciplines involved in triathlon. I once signed up to a triathlon and the first 6 weeks of my training programme focussed on practising getting a wet suit on an off as quickly as possible. I didn’t go through with it in the end, it was an 8 week programme in total and 2 weeks to master the other elements really wasn’t long enough and I’d like to apologies here to McMillan for letting them down.
My suggestion, draw up a work timetable. And stick to it. My working day; get up, have a GOOD breakfast. I’m talking brain food here, get rid your the sugar laden cereals, a bowl of cod liver oil tablets with SKIMMED milk is my weapon of choice. Spend the morning doing those jobs that you don’t enjoy, get them out of the way, there’s nothing worse than a tricky phone call hanging over you all day, be positive, simply pick up that phone first thing and say “Brian I know your wife is ill but I’m sorry but I’m going to have to let you go.. Yes I know it’s 3am” Get it done. Then, a nice healthy lunch, me? Cod, with liver and oil. The afternoon should be spent being creative, your brain will be nicely warmed up and you can think freely and laterally. Why not try a brainstorming session or even something else?
I recently starting watching SAS Who Dares Wins, after 45 minutes I realised it wasn’t a military themed spin of of Only Fools and Horse but a reality show where contestants are pushed to their physical and psychological limits. I thought about our Para-Trooper boys and how brave they are. In many ways the way they overcome their disability to fight for the country is just as, if not more inspiring as the regular troopers. What keeps them going when every muscle in their body screams and all of their limbs (4 or less) ache? Simple, desire.
“It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.” Whilst I absolutely don’t agree with dog fighting, the people involved have hit the nail on the head here. You could have a tiny Yorkshire terrier, but if he has the heart of a Rottweiler, what have you got? Yes a mongrel, but also a winner.
It’s often those that come from humble beginnings that have this fire inside them, their life literally depends on their success, distance runner Zola Budd won Olympic gold medals running barefoot, growing up her family couldn’t afford running spikes and so she ran without any shoes on. Running bare foot in track events is now against the IAAF rules and you could argue that she should be stripped of her medals. But Zola was prepared to bend the rules and go the extra mile, literally in one case where she completely miss-paced a middle distance race. Throughout her career she spread hope and verrucas around the globe.
So what does all this mean? It means that motivation, although it can be gained extrinsically (from others, gold medals, dog fighting rosettes) is strongest when it comes from within. I once gave a talk at a job centre about the importance of positivity and resilience when finding work, unbeknownst to me it was to s group receiving long term disability benefit but never the less I left them with this quote:
“It’s a simple message and it comes from the heart, if you believe in yourself. For that’s the place to start. HEY DW” I wasn’t planning on saying the last bit but I get very into persona when I’m doing motivation talks, particularly to the disabled.