Thursday, August 22News That Matters

MAINE MOTIVATION: We all want a chance to win – Biddeford Journal Tribune

Today, in my first column, we’re going to switch complaints into compliments.

But, first, what is motivation?

What drives us to move toward our goals? It can be many different things, for different people but the end results are the same: movement, motion and momentum. In other words, action is taken.

Whether we are motivated by love or by money, or whether it’s striving for accolades in one’s field,  it still remains quite mysterious, not only in how it comes and goes, waxes and wanes but how some are able to use it and achieve while others are seemingly unable to find it anywhere.

Dina Burley

If you’re as fascinated by this conundrum as I am, then this is the column for you. I move people for a living, often by moving myself quite literally but also figuratively speaking. I began “moving” at a young age through sports and dance and quickly realized that, although I was the participant, it was others connecting to what I was doing that drove me to excel.

As with everything we do, someone is always watching, even if it’s our own conscience. What a great opportunity we have to influence our own lives as well as one another simply by our own actions, as opposed to just a thought. These are tools which are always available to us, and although we may not always use them well, we are always influencing each other. Sometimes we motivate and, other times, we trigger (the reverse) depending on the action and the receiver of the action.

Everyone has something they’d like to improve about themselves, and everyone wants to believe that they influence others in positive ways. But we may inadvertently do the opposite.

For example, when trying to change a behavior, such as eating junk food, we tell ourselves we will get fat, or if a teenager is caught smoking we warn them that they will get sick (and they’re in big trouble!) but how effective are warnings? According to our current culture…not very.

It seems causing stress and fear actually have the opposite impact when it comes to improving behavior.

Oftentimes, a person just becomes more adept at concealing undesirable behaviors and is, therefore, further away from changing for the better.

In reality, People tend to listen to the most optimistic opinion and believe that the odds are ever in their favor. If given both a warning and an out, they will invariably choose to take the out, thereby avoiding the negative emotions. One could say: People only listen to what they want to hear.

We do, however, respond to social validation as well as performance incentives. Instead of reminding someone of their shortcomings, we would do well to point out what they are doing well so that they might take pride in their work or skills. We all want a chance to win and this is a team effort.

Try switching your complaint into a compliment and see what happens. We work best when encouraged, and I hope this column encourages you.

Dina Burley is a native of Biddeford, a fitness trainer and competitor who has coached national champions and worked with Olympic gymnasts, professional stunt actors and tour dancers to look and live at peak performance. 

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