I’ll never forget the night I sat in front of my neighbor’s small, black and white television, waiting for the moon landing. I was 8 years old, and was quite frankly more excited about the buttered popcorn being delivered than the event itself (I think food has always been my point of total delight). Do you know what I remember most about that night? The excitement in the room before the landing; the cheer that went up with that first step as it scattered dust and landed on the moon’s surface; the exciting discussion among adults that occurred following the landing. The moon landing was nice, but the interaction and excitement in the room was better.
Ask me how many times I’ve seen energy and excitement in a corporate setting. Except for maybe one or two people that seemed as if they might have Red-bulled it before the meeting, it’s been a long time. Recently I gave a presentation at a financial services company, and I noticed the tired faces of those managers that were exhausted from the constant change they had been trying to handle for the past several years. I tried to give them suggestions about how to motivate their sales force, when it was clear they couldn’t motivate themselves. How do we motivate ourselves when we don’t remember our passion?
P.L. Travers says, “Human beings are a story; they are living a story and anyone open to this story is living part — perhaps all — of themselves.” I think we’ve been so busy living somebody else’s story we’ve forgotten our own. So, here’s what I want you to do.
1. Take out a piece of paper and pen or pencil.
2. Draw a small stick figure in the center of the page that represents you.
3. Draw a bigger circle around “you,” and jot down an event you remember between the ages of 5 and 10 that was so exciting you remember in detail to this day. Then jot down the elements of that day that created your excitement. It might look something like this:
Now you can remember some things about what moves you:
Try this exercise with your sales or service team. The closer they get to remembering what evoked passion in them, the easier it will be to understand how they can motivate themselves and how they wish to be motivated. By reconnecting to our past stories, we can remember who we are.
I will share new stories at least once a week that you can use to motivate and engage employees. The latest story is from Scott McKain, author of What Customers REALLY Want. He provides a great example of an experience created by the human connection. Remember:
“To be a person is to have a story to tell . . . Within each of us there is a tribe with a complete cycle of legends and dances, songs to be sun.” — Sam Keen