We live in a world of abundance, with opportunity on every hand. We have been liberally endowed with talents and abilities, many of which we never use, and we can, through the power of choice, make ourselves whatever we want.
If all people possess unlimited potential, and if the world is filled with abundance and opportunity, why are not all automatically successful? If it is true that we were created with a potential for high internal motivation, why do so many reach maturity only to find the level of motivation at a low ebb?
One reason for the lack of self-motivation is found in seemingly conflicting desires. We have a desire for personal leadership and purpose, but we also wish for acceptance by others. We are torn between being ourselves and gaining the acceptance. The dilemma is compounded by pressure from society: we are encouraged from birth to conform; seldom are we ever given encouragement to be ourselves.
As we constantly adjust to the complexities of social living and attempt to fulfill our various needs, we encounter a variety of motivation blocks. Leadership impulses and creativity are suppressed, restricted, or eliminated completely. In order to get going again – to motivate ourselves – we must be able to see these motivation blocks as artificial barriers and know how to deal with them. The pressure or influence of family, society, and institutions is intended to be good, and much of it is good. We profit when we learn from all of those who have lived before us. But conditioning becomes a hindrance instead of help when it stifles and cuts off any new contribution.
Here’s a familiar example of the power of conditioning. When you go to the circus, you see a line of elephants each tethered by a rope around one foot to a small stake driven into the ground. As strong as elephants are, they can certainly pull the stakes out of the ground any time they choose. But they have been “conditioned”. As baby elephants they were chained to huge metal stakes driven well into the ground so that they could not pull them up. Weeks and months of tugging at strong stakes convinced the elephants that they could not pull loose. Now, although full grown with almost unlimited strength, any time they are fastened to a stake, they remember the futility of past efforts and do not try to free themselves.
Some people are conditioned in the same way. They become mental weaklings drained of their potential strength simply because they have become conditioned to believe they are weak. Countless thousands of people today refuse to attempt a goal simply because at an earlier time and under different circumstances they failed to achieve some similar goal.
Reprinted from the LMI Total Leader™ Journal published for Leadership Management International, Inc. by Rutherford Communications.