Saturday, October 29, 2005

The heart of human motivation

“The continual process of seeking out and meeting challenges that are within our capacity (not too easy but not totally out of reach either) is the heart of human motivation.” (P. 5, In Pursuit of Excellence, Terry Orlick)

I had the opportunity to teach juggling to some college freshman last Thursday night for a Stress Management workshop I conducted in the residence halls of Oregon State University.

One young lady who was just learning to juggle a 3 ball cascade said to me, “This is more frustrating and stress causing than not juggling”.

I asked her to stop trying to juggle a continuous 3 ball cascade pattern and simply go for three tosses and three catches. Then, when she was ready to go for four tosses and four catches, she could. That way she was always striving for some goal that was just out of her reach but achievable.

Her “stress” disappeared almost instantly and she became more engaged with her practice.

I noticed this pattern of motivation early on in my juggling. Researchers have been finding this pattern for years. When you set goals that are too far out of reach (continuous jugging for that girl), you get frustrated. When you set goals that are within your reach (one more toss and catch in the pattern), you get energized. You know you can get one more catch if you focus and give it your best.

I’m learning to do 4 ball Mill’s Mess right now. My desire is to be able to do long runs of this trick. When focus on getting long runs, I get frustrated. When I focus on getting one more catch, I become engaged and sometimes lose track of time.

I never set goals that bore me. Usually it’s the opposite, setting goals that frustrate me. The key to staying motivated is finding that balance where you know that a little focus and effort is all that is needed to achieve a little more mastery.

Next time you get frustrated with a juggling goal, take it one notch lower and see if that helps you get back into it.

Quote of the Day
When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal. ~Napoleon Hill



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