Before I worked for him full time, I had worked for him freelance. During those days, he praised my work, and constantly asked me to work for him full time. I liked being a freelancer, and was reluctant to take a regular job. Then one day, he made the proverbial offer I couldn’t refuse. After that the praise stopped and the criticism began.
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. Perfect strangers were shaking his hand, slapping him on the back, and having their picture taken with him.
I found an amateur contest to make a TV commercial for a famous ketchup brand. Instantly I had an idea for a romantic comedy in which ketchup brought two young lovers together. During it all, I discovered that it's not just bad stuff that comes in threes; so does good stuff when it includes: love, creativity, and success.
The stench rising off the dead bodies was over-powering. It was so thick you could taste it. Sandy pulled a dust-mask respirator over his face, but the smell still penetrated. To speed up the decomposition process he quickly shoveled manure over the decaying flesh. The manure cut the odor somewhat, that is, if you don’t mind the stink of cow dung. Then as he flung each shovelful of waste over the bodies, a black cloud of fat flesh flies would rise into the air. It was a disgusting job that wasted hours of his day, but there weren’t many alternatives.
“He’s a drunk; I’m calling the police!” I couldn’t believe the callous response. “This man is hurt,” I cried. He doesn’t need the police - he needs help!” I roused the man and got him to his feet. “Come on Mister, let me take you home.” I took his arm and we started walking. In the middle of the third block he veered off the sidewalk and into the street where he stopped. Then to my shock, while I was holding him up, he unzipped his fly and began urinating in the middle of the road. I was mortified.
“I hate you! I’m going to kill you tonight after you fall asleep.” screamed nine year old Jerry to his foster mother. It was hard to believe such hateful words could come from this adorable child with big blue eyes and an impish face. Dee loves Jerry and wants to adopt him, but these angry outbursts frighten her.
“Who wants to give their oral report first?” Asked my sixth grade teacher. The dreaded day had finally arrived when each of us would have to stand in front of the room and speak to the class. Not a single hand went up. In fact, there was no movement in the room at all. There wasn’t a desk creaking under the shifting weight of a single body, no paper rustling, no pencils scratching, not even a cough. Nothing. The room had never been quieter.
Roxy came up to my chair and meowed for attention. I picked her up, held her and started rubbing her soft fur. I knew from past experience that she didn’t like that, and she immediately began to squirm and try to jump out of my arms. Nevertheless - in the spirit of Albert Einstein’s observation that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results - I hoped that she would start liking it.
I had to fight several more boys that year before the name-calling stopped. It was not the solution I wanted, but it worked. It took me years to learn that the problem was mine; that I was giving away my power every time I reacted to taunting and teasing. And, it’s a problem that doesn’t go away with childhood.
Over the years, I’ve ruminated over all sorts of things. Big issues I have little or no control over like politics, the environment, terrorism, and the economy. Personal issues that I need to affect such as my business, my family, and my relationships. I have even worried over my volunteer work. Churning the same thoughts over and over again.
“What’s the point?” mumbled the right fielder, “We’re just going to lose again.” After an eight game losing streak, their chance at the baseball championship was gone. As their frustrated coach, I thought, “What can you do when there is no hope of winning?”
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.