Motivation ; the ability to initiative and persist. Motivation is an inherently flawed concept, we are not designed to do something that makes us uncomfortable. Our minds are designed to stop us at all costs, from anything that may potentially hurt you or pose a risk. A risk can be both real or imagined. For instance a public speaker may feel the risk of humiliation or fear of looking bad.
For the purpose of this conversation, imagine you have two working brains. The first is found in the frontal lobe which I will refer to as the Professor Brain, the second is found in the limbic brain and we will refer to it as the Reptilian Brain. Both these brains talk to each other relentlessly, bargaining, arguing and occasionally finding agreement. It is our Professor Brain that sets intention, goals and looks to create motivation. These are all noble pursuits but unfortunately they are often hijacked by the Reptilian brain which will put the brakes on motivation.
The key to motivation is communicating with the Reptilian Brain and getting him on side.
4 Strategies to Hacking Motivation and coercing the Reptilian Brain to get on side.
1. Mood: is your nutrition, sleep and hydration conducive to a motivated state? If you are not well nourished and well rested your motivation will tank.
2. Reward: the reptilian brain loves rewards. If your goal is to make the National Team in your sport, you will need to set up you're training/practice schedule to support this. Check in with your progress and reward yourself for your efforts. It could be getting together with friends or buying those new cycling shoes that you covet.
3. Focus on your greatest competitor. Know that they are out training today so you better get at it. Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
4. Find an accountability partner. It could be your coach or a teammate or a friend. Clearly tell them what you are gunning for, how you are going to do it, what actions you will be taking and ask them to hold you accountable. It works like a charm.
Swim sensation, Katie Ledecky trains 30hrs/week. Michael Phelps says she is the most motivated athlete in the world. Katie's devotion to practice and setting superhuman goals is the way she keeps her motivation up.
Building and maintaining a high level of motivation is a learned skill that anyone can acquire. An interesting story was told to me the other day. A butterfly, in order to fly needs to break out of his cocoon in such a way that the pressure on his torso causes fluid to flow into its wings. It is this fluid that allows for flight. If we were to delicately open the cocoon for the butterfly, he would never fly. When we are challenged that’s when we grow. By extending ourselves, being motivated to have breakthroughs, we can reap the reward of complete satisfaction in knowing we have this grit. Giddy up!
Creating Peak Performances
"If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it." Tonny Lasorda