Emotional Intelligence

Heather: Learning to Motivate Yourself : The "Do Something Principle"

I have a question for you:

Do you procrastinate as a leader? Just going about your day – being busy certainly, but not necessarily making progress on important projects or initiatives that really move the dial for you and your business?

We have all heard this principle as a leader: 'Focus on the important, not necessarily the urgent.' And while that is true, sometimes it can be hard to motivate ourselves to get started. Procrastination is the enemy of innovation and progress and I've been there too.

But the good news is we can learn, practise and develop new skills to motivate ourselves. And motivation just happens to be one of the essential skills of emotionally intelligent leaders.

So here's something interesting I recently learned and have been practising in my own life. It's brilliant and it's from the author and blogger Mark Manson. He calls it the 'Do Something Principle'.

According to Mark, it's probably one of the simplest yet most magical "hacks" he's ever come across. The Do Something Principle states that taking action is not just the effect of motivation, but also the cause of it.

Let me share how it works….We often wait for inspiration or motivation to hit us before we get started (or in my case, often a looming deadline that I can't ignore any longer).

But Mark likes to turn this on its head completely. When we need to be motivated, we just do something that's even remotely related to what we want to accomplish. And then this action fuels more motivation, which in turns fuels more action, etc.

Here's how it worked for me just this week. I was putting off writing a presentation. So I told myself "I'll just write the outline" and leave it that. Pretty soon after writing the outline, I started feeling some positive emotions from taking action, and before I knew it I was motivated to keep going. Then it almost became a challenge to finish the darn thing. Suddenly three hours had passed and it was done. So what I learned here is that just taking some small action generated all the motivation I needed.

So, motivation doesn't have to be some magical, elusive state. The brilliance behind the Do Something principle is that a little effort can go a long way. Just getting started with doing one small thing can get that motivation really humming!

P.S Make sure you've got access to our super handy app called High-Performance Leadership. It's free to download and it's jam-packed full of bite-sized leadership courses on a whole range of topics, brought to you from the best coaches and leaders globally. You can find my courses on there (Emotional Intelligence), plus Financial Wellbeing, Being an Energised Leader and Your Personal Branding. Pretty much it's like having your own personal advisory board on demand!


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