At one time or another we have all dreamed of doing some big thing. Perhaps starting a business, writing a book, or traveling to some exotic place. Maybe we wanted to learn a musical instrument or a new language or some great skill. And the reason we have often failed to do that big thing is that we lacked the motivation. Perhaps we had the motivation to start, but we certainly did not have the motivation to see things through.
When I was seven years old I decided I wanted to start my own newspaper. I could just feel the excitement of riding my bicycle around the neighborhood, throwing out copies of the Collins Gazette (or whatever I called it) on people’s front lawns. I imagined having a satchel of rolled up newspapers and how awesome I would look as I set out daily to deliver them.
So I sat down at the kitchen table in our house, took a blank sheet of lined paper and got to work. I drew a picture of the paper’s editor (that would be me) and wrote a few words about this great venture and its proprietor. After I finished that first copy, my hand was kind of cramped. As proud as I was of my work, I didn’t really feel like making more copies. “Whew,” I thought, “that’s a lot of work! We have one neighbor really close by, so for today one copy will do.” So off I went.
My Huffy bike had a satchel zip-tied to the handlebars, so I rolled up my one newspaper, stuck it in the satchel, and rode around my yard. When I was between my house and theirs, I flung the single-page newspaper, just like I imagined. Only it didn’t fly beautifully into their yard the way I had imagined. Actually it landed only a few inches from my bike. Hmm. Disappointed, I picked up the “newspaper” and that was the end of my journalism.
I had lost motivation. I think it’s safe to say that we all stopped short of some dreams because we lost or never had the motivation. You see, that day I experienced a subtle truth about motivation: emotion can get you going but it is utterly unable to keep you going. Continue reading