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Life Motivation - Part 3

Updated on June 10, 2012

Welcome to part 3 of a series about finding your Life Motivation. Knowing what your real motivation is can have a huge effect on how rewarding you feel your life is. This time we're going to spend some time talking about Role Models. In part 1 of this series, I talked about writing your obituary to discover what you want your legacy to be. Part 2 talked about spending time reviewing those times in your life that made you feel the best, and look for what the common factor was, so that you can identify what really makes you feel most successful or invigorated.

Everyone has role models. Some are provided for us, and some we select on our own. I'll expand on Role Models and the intentional use of them elsewhere. Right now, I want you to learn about how your early choice of role model might have been an unconscious reaction to what your Life Motivation is. To do this best, I need to define what I mean by an unconscious choice.

Choices define us. It is what we choose to wear, eat, say, do and so on that define us to those around us. But we are also defined by what we choose NOT to wear, eat, say, etc. And it is that part (the choice NOT to do something) that we most often overlook. Let me give some examples to illustrate this better.

Bob has worked at a fast food restaurant for 6 months. In that time, he has been placed in the position where he switches out cash drawers and counts the cash and gives it to the manager for deposit. One day he is counting a register and realizes the drawer is $10 over the amount expected by the register receipt. He updates the balance and alerts the manager on duty about the overage.

Robert has worked at a different fast food restaurant for 6 months and also is in charge of counting cash drawers for the registers. On the same day, he finds a register is also over $10. He realizes he could take the money and no one would know. But he knows that is wrong and follows the correct procedures and logs the amount, notifies the manager and continues on with his day.

Both Bob and Robert were honest. Outwardly, they seem pretty much the same. But, there is a difference, one that I made obvious in this example, but would not have been obvious to the outside observer. Bob never thought about taking the money. Robert, on the other hand, did think about it. I'm not saying he is better or worse than Bob. I'm simply pointing out that choosing NOT to do something is different than not even registering the availability of the choice. Bob never thought about taking the money. It just wasn't where his mind was. That is an example of what I mean by consciously making choices NOT to do things. If Bob had thought about it, he might have taken the money. I don't know. The point is Robert was very aware of the option and still chose not to. That is a sign of good character. Doing the right thing when no one is looking.

Role Models

The usual definition of a Role Model is someone who you look toward to learn appropriate behavior. There are tons of different specific definitions, but that basic one will work here. For the purpose of better understanding your life motivation, role models can be real people, living or dead, fictional people, or even characters that are part of a song (which is still fictional, I know, but people often overlook this potential source).

Role models can be divided into two categories. They are examples that epitomize your own desires, in other words, they are who you WISH you could be. The other type of role model are the ones you identify with. These are the ones that "feel" like they act the same as you.

The first category, the ideal example, is easy to understand how they are role models. They show us how we want to be. These are the individuals who set a standard you see and think to yourself "I wish I could be like that." These could be real or, as I mentioned earlier, fictional. It doesn't matter where they come from. What matters is that they inspire you to become more than what you are.

The second category, the identifiable, is harder to understand. If you ask a crowd of 100 people, chances are only 2 or 3 will name this type of individual as their role model. This isn't the "wow! I wish I could be like that!", up on a pedestal, role model. This is the type of person you hear referred to as a "regular Joe." They behave just like you. They have lives just like you. The obvious question that comes to mind when you hear about this type of role model is, "how can someone just like me be a role model?" It's simple. They make decisions and take actions that show you how to act. Sometimes the ideal seems too far out of reach. But, the guy or gal next door? If they can do something, then so can you.

Who are your Role Models?

Okay, so we've talked about two types of Role models. How does that help you identify your Life Motivation? Its a matter of WHY you selected them as role models. If you can identify why they resonated with you, then you can start to examine your motivations in selecting them, and by extension, what your personal life motivation is. This isn't something that can be described adequately in the objective form. So I'll provide an example of each from my own life.

Example 1 - The Ideal

I was around 9 years old when I encountered Doc Savage. I was an avid reader of Science Fiction and fantasy novels. In 1977 I saw a novel for sale that had a heroic person standing with a cloud of bats flying past. It was just unusual enough it caught my attention and I picked it up to read. In the pages of this novel, I met a person who had dedicated his life to traveling around the world righting wrongs and stopping evil doers. He was a genius in chemistry, engineering, languages, and many other sciences. He was a superior surgeon (hence the nickname"Doc") and a master of martial arts. I thoroughly enjoyed the4 novel and started buying every novel in the series I could find.I learned he had a pledge he lived his life by. Here is what is was:

Let me strive, every moment of my life, to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, that all may profit by it. Let me think of the right, and lend all my assistance to those who need it, with no regard for anything but justice. Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage. Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens and my associates in everything I say and do. Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.

It was years before I learned that had been written around 1938. As a young person, I thought this was a new hero and just read and enjoyed the stories. And I started to look at life and the world around me from that perspective. I internalized the idea of helping others. I live each day trying to make those around me smile. I try to leave anything I touch better than it was before I encountered it. I tried to excel in school (Cum Laude), became a lifelong fan and student of martial arts, and have always tried to help anyone I encounter become better at whatever I could help them with. In fact, take a look at the nome de plume I have chosen. Doc Savage's full name was Clark Savage Jr.

Example 1 - The Average Joe

Another role model in my life was my father. He was and electronic security specialist in the U.S. Air Force. In the days before cell phones, they had a call chain where the Flight commander would call two people, who would in turn can two more each and so on. When you got that call, you had to get to the military base and report for duty regardless of what time or what day it was. The military was not a "job" where you worked 8 hours, went home and lived your real life. You had committed your life to a cause, and the command structure owned you. It was a voluntary position that you had placed yourself into because you knew that someone had to willingly surrender their freedom to serve their country so that the freedom of your family, friends, neighbors and the entire country can be protected and guaranteed. He first worked on electronics and then became the quality control supervisor making sure everything was running and operating as close to perfect as possible.

From him, I learned to take pride in doing the best job I can and to always try to improve what I produced. My mentality about work is that you earn for a living, but your life is a result of your work. I have rarely held a job that had an hourly pay rate. I tend to take employment that is either commission-based or salary. The majority of my career has been salaried. One difference I have seen in my co-workers is they come in to work, serve their time, then they are in the parking lot starting their car right as the clock strikes 5 o'clock; while I am working until I complete the task or stage I have set for myself. If I have a significant project, I may work nights, weekends and have been known to work 38 hours straight to meet an insane deadline with a product that was at the level I expected from myself, when I could have done a half-baked job and worked normal hours and the client would have been satisfied. But I hold myself to a standard that says if I'm being paid salary, I'm being paid to produce a certain level of product, not work a flat 40 hours each week. I may not have joined the military, but I took the concept of dedication and quality to heart.

So What have your Role Models done lately?

So, those are two of my role models and how they have affected my life. So what? How does that have ANYTHING to do with my life motivation? That is the million dollar question. Finding the answer for yourself is how you will find a direction and path to follow for your life. Once again, I'll share my experiences in the hopes they can show you a way to identify your resonances in your role models.

Take my "Ideal" role model. The resonant point was "help others." My life is directed and focused on the effort to help others. I have been involved in corporate training in one fashion or another since 1993. Before that, I usually ended up training the new employees where ever I worked. I became a foster parent and then an adoptive parent of special needs children because it was a way to help children in need. I even started doing this, writing hubs, because I wanted to share with others in the hopes I can help them.

Then, look at my "Average" role model. I'm driven to provide the best. Doing something to say it's done isn't enough. This is a consistent drive. I'm truly motivated by finding a way to make my next project better than the last one. If I find something that is good, I look for ways I can improve it.

So, what are my Life Motivations? This should be pretty obvious at this time. Help others and always do better than the last time. Now, take some time and do the same for yourself. How were, or ARE, your role models? Do you have a role model that you never even realized they were that model? Did you used to have role models that, in the course of growing up, you felt you had to leave behind to enter the "real world?" Take a look back and ask yourself if by leaving that role model behind, you lost your direction or motivation.

Ask yourself, "What has my role model done for me lately?" Yes, it's a stolen paraphrase, just go with it. First, identify what the role model has done in, or for, you. Then, you can identify what motivation they matched that was in you. Don't be afraid to take a step back and look at past role models. They might hold the answer to your becoming a directed individual. Who knows, you might discover they have been affecting you in a positive all this time! Since you didn't actively recognize it, you've only been getting a fraction of that benefit. Imagine what the full benefit might be like?

It is my hope that finding, or perhaps choosing new, role models in your life will make a huge impact in your life and make your life motivation a recognized factor in your future happiness.

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