Instead of Serving It Cold... Don’t Serve It at All

I was enraged when she told me the story. As a hormone-filled sixteen year old, I wanted to retaliate on her behalf. I told her I would get two hundred pounds of salt; then under the cover of night, use it to write a message on his lawn. Within a few days, alphabet-shaped sections of his grass would die. Revenge would be sweet as his neighbors read in brown letters the profane words that described the true nature of his character.

Change Please

Motivation is all about motion or movement. In other words, if you are comfortable, if you are happy and content, then you DO NOT move. You do not change. Why would you? On the other hand, if you are uncomfortable, if you’re unhappy, then you want to change. You want to move back toward your comfort zone. There are millions of motivators in the world and all of us at any one time is being motivated by a dozen or more.

Good Habit - Questionable Motive

Mom wanted to fit in, join the discussions, be an authority in her own right. In short, she wanted to feel important in her new family, and she realized that she needed more knowledge. Determined to find a way to reduce her education deficit, she threw herself into reading.

Seductive & Intoxicating - Success Breeds Success!

I accepted his instructions affably, but with little faith, then popped open a bottle of beer and started to get into the rhythm of relaxation. Cast, tug, reel. Swig. Cast, tug, reel. Swig. Cast, tug, reel... Whoa! Something hit my line. Hard. Really hard! I’d never felt anything like that before...

You’ll Know When You’ve Arrived

During the 1996 Summer Olympics, I saw a young athlete with his brand new silver medal around his neck and a massive smile on his face. He was so thrilled with his achievement that he was mixing and mingling with everyone he met on the sidewalk. He was relishing the highest point of his life to date.

On My Honor

I feel as if fraud is the new coin of the realm. That it has become an accepted part of our culture. I hear so many conflicting claims from government officials - whether it is about global warming or the cause of terrorism or how to repair the economy - that sometimes I don’t really know what to believe. It reminds me of a bit of graffiti I saw years ago: “Believe nothing of which you hear and only half of what you see.”

Attaboy!

It was a lively organization with scores of activist members who were busy gentrifying an inner city neighborhood. One of my responsibilities was to deliver a monthly speech and conduct a formal meeting with a loud and raucous crowd. I always spoke from behind the lectern with my hands firmly attached to the sides in a white knuckle grip.

Compelled by an Idea

Several mugs of beer and several trips to the restroom later, we filled several sheets of paper with funny bathroom graffiti to take back with us. As we looked at our collection, we came to two conclusions: first that we'd had way too much beer, and second that we should keep collecting graffiti until we had enough for a book.

Sometimes You Have to Rip the Cover Off

Bubba was the quintessential redneck. Within minutes of getting on the boat, he stuffed a wad of chewing tobacco the size of a baseball in his cheek, then chugged several beers. In less than an hour we were dealing with an irritable drunk. He belched loudly, spit constantly, complained incessantly, and couldn’t string two words together without inserting a profanity.

The Reward is in the Eye of the Beholder

In the early 1970s I was a young teenager who was completely caught up in the Zeitgeist. I admired the long-haired rebels and radicals who were engaged in protesting the establishment and developing the counter-culture. I didn’t really know what any of that meant, but to me it was all about empowering youth and declaring our independence from the adults. My parents in particular.

Looking for Motive: Follow The Money Trail

Recently I participated in a Murder Mystery weekend at a bed and breakfast lodge. Every guest was a given a role to play. There were eight suspects; each of whom had one or more of the following: Means, Opportunity and Motive. Having the Means and Opportunity was very important, but having the right Motivation was the key to solving the puzzle. We interviewed the suspects, collected clues, then presented who we thought was the killer and why. It was great fun, but I failed to figure out who done it.

The Examined Life

Paul and I were sixteen years old and had taken high school Spanish for a year. We called each other every night on the phone and spoke to each other in our new language. More than anything we wanted to test our skill with a real Spanish speaking person, but we did not know any. Then we got the idea to have dinner at a Mexican restaurant. For two boys who had never dined out without their parents, this was a big adventure. We were so motivated that when we made reservations, we asked to be seated with a waiter who could not speak English.

How Cool are You?

My sons recently started talking about being cool, and I recalled my own teenage years and the need to be cool. That driving desire dictated the clothes I wore, the music I listened to, and what subjects I became conversant in. And, yet despite all my motivation and effort, it remained elusive.

Leadership vs. Power

George Washington died in 1799, the year that Napoleon Bonaparte became the ruler of France. In contrast to Washington, Napoleon could not acquire enough power. His legendary lust for command drove him to take over much of Europe.

Thrown into the Driver’s Seat

On June 29, 1863, a 23 year old First Lieutenant received an unexpected promotion. The freckle faced, strawberry blonde, who graduated at the bottom of his class at West Point, was elevated directly to the rank of Brigadier General in the Union Army. He completely skipped over the traditional ranks in between of Captain, Major, and Colonel. As you can imagine such a promotion was met with skepticism, dismay, and envy by his former peers and superiors. Especially at a time when the South was winning against the North during the American Civil War.

More Powerful than You Know

Writing is not a job; it’s a hobby!” thundered my father when I told him my plans for college. “You need to get a profession: medicine, law, engineering or accounting.” I cheerlessly acquiesced and enrolled in a Pre-Med program, but at the end of my first year, after struggling through Chemistry, I changed my major to Philosophy.

Pack Mentality

When my son was two years old, we got a Samoyed puppy, and for the next 18 months they were the best of friends. Then the dog changed. Suddenly she started growling at my son and biting him. At first I thought that maybe he was pulling her tail or something else that was irritating her, but that wasn’t it.

Copy Cats Climb the Ladder of Success Faster

One of my favorite forms of exercise and recreation is mountain biking. I get out once a week and hit the trails. Some of the trails have obstacle course-like obstructions called technical features; they are basically log and rock piles you ride over for an additional skill challenge. One trail has several advanced features including an intimidating seesaw.

A Recipe for Success Needs this Secret

Second base was stolen 13 times by the winning team. The catcher for the losing team, Branch Rickey, was unable to pick off even a single runner. That record stands to this day. It also spelled the end of Rickey’s career as a baseball player after just two short seasons. Six years later, he returned as a manager – and what a manager he turned out to be!

The Secret for People Who Don’t Believe in VooDoo

The latest fad in motivation is the Law of Attraction or more popularly The Secret after the motion picture and book by Rhonda Byrne. The Secret claims that the more intent you are in your wish for health, wealth, and friends, the faster the universe will act upon it. Is it real, or is it VooDoo science?

Bleed It Out

James Vicary, pulled a hoax on the American people as a way to promote his advertising agency.  He reported that he flashed the words “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Eat popcorn” on the screen for a millisecond during a movie in a theater, and caused large numbers of people to visit the concession stand. He called the effect Subliminal Advertising.  Subliminal means that the effect functions below the threshold of consciousness. Years later, when others failed to duplicate his results, he admitted that he made the whole thing up.

Keeping The Ball Rolling

I know an advertising agency owner who never fully takes a vacation.  He takes his family to fairly exotic locations, but never so alien that they are outside the reach of modern communication.  In other words, he is never further than a cell phone call or email away.  Is he a workaholic?

Deadlines Work

As I sit here writing this column against the deadline, I’m reminded of my days as a young advertising copywriter when I occasionally needed a deadline as motivation to finish a boring project.  The deadline did more than motivate me to finish -- more often than not, it was what finally stimulated enough creative thinking to move me forward -- in other words...

The Pleasure Principle

“Strike Two.” cried the umpire. I threw one more pitch. He swung hard, but the ball just dribbled right back to the pitcher’s mound. I picked it up and gently tossed it to the first baseman for the out. As the batter turned back toward the dugout, his team captain stepped out and screamed, “Darrell, you’ve got to get over your fear of this guy!”

Don’t Get Stuck in Reverse

I love this quote by Gandalf the Gray from the book Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, “When we despair we cease to choose well.  We give in to short cuts.”  It’s so true and we all know that we have been guilty of it at some point in our lives.

What Drives Your Desire?

It was love at first sight.  I was a 15 year old working as a parking lot cashier, when a brand new car pulled up to the booth.  I’d never seen anything like it; it was a new model from Toyota called Celica.  Approaching the legal driving age, I dreamed of owning a car.  Now my dream had a form.

Defeating the De-Motivator

The sweet strains of a Puccini aria cut through the Saturday night clatter of the busy Italian restaurant in New York City, but it wasn’t coming from the aging voice of the Sicilian baritone who was hired to belt out favorites like Funiculi-Funicula. It was a soprano whose crystal clear voice filled the room. Within moments all the ambient noise came to a halt. Diners stopped eating and talking, busboys stopped clearing tables, the cooks even came out of the kitchen. Singing on the tiny stage was the skinny moon-faced waitress from Ohio.

The Most Powerful Motivator

I was abruptly awakened and told, “The house is on fire. Go outside! As I ran out of my bedroom and into the hall my socks slipped on the polished oak floor. A guiding hand helped me keep my footing and a frantic voice urged, “Hurry! Hurry!” As I got to the door I looked over my shoulder and saw flames leaping out of the heating grate on the floor.

Will You Freak-Out or Hunker Down?

Will You Freak-Out or Hunker Down? Sometimes motivation is forced upon us.  We are thrust into the Un-comfort Zone.  And, whether we sink or swim depends on how we respond to the situation.  How do you react during a crisis? Here are the stories of two men who faced a crisis late in life and how they dealt with it.

What’s Pushing Your Buttons?

Jeanne Louise Calment's burning desire enabled her to do something that no other human being has done before.  A feat so spectacular that it generated headlines around the globe, got her a role in a motion picture, and landed her in the Guinness Book of World Records.  A record that has yet to be beaten. 

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