There’s an old saying that attitude is everything. One thing is for sure: attitude is a huge factor in your success at anything, including leadership.
Building the Right Environment
We can talk about ourselves in terms of leadership and set up a plan, but as the saying goes, “The proof is in the pudding.”
When you make a series of decisions about what you intend to do, and you start doing them, your behaviour is in line with and supporting your intention. If you say you will do something and then allow yourself to be distracted, or you lose the commitment to a particular goal, then your behaviour is not supporting your stated intention.
In order to keep your behaviour on track, we encourage you to leverage the teaching of Christopher Neck and Charles Manz in their excellent book Mastering Self-Leadership: Empowering Yourself for Personal Excellence, 6th Edition. They write about the power of positive and negative cues in our environment.
Negative cues are things that distract or stop you from doing the things you want to be doing. If you want to cut down on the amount of time you spend watching television, but you have a 52 inch screen and 130 channels, you have a negative cue set up. The temptation to turn the television on and then start scanning programs or flipping channels is very evident. On the other hand, having a smaller screen, fewer channels, or a stack of tempting books next to your favourite chair can help distract you from the television.
Positive cues are things that influence you to do things that meet your goals. That stack of books handy when you sit down to relax, an ergonomic chair to work from, or a good long distance plan when you need to be making a lot of calls, are all positive cues. If your work involves a lot of driving, then keeping your car clean and in good shape is another positive cue. Positive cues can also include calendars with good scheduling programming, reminders, sticky notes, task lists, and being with people who are reminders of your desired behaviours.
Motivation from Within
The things that motivate us are as different as the people we know. Do you know what motivates you?
- What motivated Walt Disney to create cartoons and capture them on film?
- What motivated Mohammed Ali to become a world champion boxer?
- What motivated Stephen King to be an internationally renowned writer?
The things that motivate us include the rewards we get from doing the things that we want to do. This doesn’t mean that you should be self-serving without thought to other people’s needs, or to the laws or social mores that govern the way we act. It does mean that there are things that we do where the act of doing is its own reward and that in itself is motivating.
Other times, there are more tangible rewards. A reward can be simple, like time to read a book or having lunch with a mentor. These kinds of rewards help to motivate us quite easily and naturally. Other times, more sophisticated rewards are needed to encourage us to complete tasks that we don’t find naturally rewarding.