As I sat down to think through the importance of inspiration and motivation, I was immediately reminded of the backpack my Dad and I took on the John Muir Trail from Yosemite Valley to Mt. Whitney. While we were inspired by both the trail’s namesake, and that distant goal of climbing to the top of the continental United State’s tallest peak, we also had 20 days of tough hiking ahead. Would that inspiration be enough to sustain us for 211 miles?

The short answer is that inspiration alone is likely not enough. If inspiration entails the big picture, that lofty peak on the horizon that we keep walking towards, then motivation functions as the day-to-day energy that keeps us going. Each mile we hiked reminded us that we could hike another.  And each new awe-inspiring pass we climbed through allowed us a moment to look back across the landscape at the last day or two of walking, giving us a moment to celebrate the distances we had already traveled. The small steps gave us the motivation to keep going.

Off the trail, inspiration is the long-term vision and motivation is the impact that we can make today. We need both inspiration and motivation to build momentum forward, and we need both to get us through the toughest challenges. What are the passes and milestones of our daily work then that motivate us?

I often look for motivation by reflecting on small triumphs, like completing a draft of a presentation, or wrapping up a series of coaching phone calls. I also try to spend time identifying the positive influence I may have had on someone today (or that they had on me).  Did I encourage that person to find a new innovative solution to a nagging struggle?  How did their perspective shift the way I was thinking about something?  Was our exchange transactional or transformative? How might that transformative moment make an impact?

Examining our daily actions and interactions gives us a quick feedback cycle that allows us to see the affect of what we’re trying to achieve before fully realizing that grand vision on the horizon.  We get to celebrate the many moments when ourselves and others are successful, and make a change when our growth mindset let’s us know there is room for improvement. These celebrations and adjustments provide motivation to keep us moving forward, when only focusing on the inspirational horizon line or the monumental change we want to make, can sometimes feel paralyzing. Had I only stayed locked onto Mt. Whitney, that final destination of the John Muir Trail, I would have missed a lot of beautiful scenery along the way. And the sheer distance between myself and that peak would have likely stopped me in my tracks saying, “it’s just too far.”

To fuel your motivation, now is the moment to ask: are you taking time to celebrate your daily victories?  Are you reflecting on what you’ve done well and why it has worked?  Are you remembering and realizing the ways that your hard work paid off today, or this morning, or right now?  Have you expressed gratitude to someone who impacted you and made a difference in your life over the last week?

Your Break Through Post # 51 {Vol. 2, Ed. 5}