The Motivated Locomotive

Once upon a time there was a train full of toys, stuffed animals, dolls and balls. “Wouldn’t it be great,” said the Clown, CEO, “if all the boys and girls on the other side of the mountain had our goodies, toys and treats any time they wanted?” Everyone agreed. So they roughed out a Vision statement which said “Develop, deploy, and manage a diverse set of strategic logistics tools to serve our customers, improving overall satisfaction among our diverse customer profiles.” It sounded very business-like. Everyone knew what it meant, right? “Take a variety of toys and sweets over the mountain that all the kids will like.” Also, they decided that a good mission statement would be “seamlessly operationalize market-driven global opportunities,” which pretty much meant “get in the black asap” and they got to work.

The CEO pointed out that the most likely market was over the mountain, and besides, there was a railroad right over the top already, so the company loaded a train with anything they had in stock and set off to make their mission a reality. Which was great, until their engine broke down a mile out of town. Nobody had bothered to see if it was in working condition. So the CEO started doing some quick headhunting by tapping his network.

“hey, I need a loco-motivated guy here who can get us over this mountain,” he said. He tried to lure away people from some major logistics companies, one that specialized in heavy brown and yellow packages, and another that specialized in speedy delivery of red and blue envelopes, but nobody he went to business school with was interested in working for a startup, for half their current pay and dubiously valuable stock options.

Finally he found a kid who was just out of college. Let’s just say she was a little green behind the ears and hadn’t quite stopped watching videos with talking trains who rolled their eyeballs around and bantered with their cabooses and obeyed a clown in a top hat. She was what we’d call an “idealist” and a “go-getter” and she’d never had an opportunity before. She was hyper-motivated; even loco-motivated because she loved the vision. Her motto was “I think I can” and with a lot of effort she made it over that first mountain and delivered the goods.

The end, but not quite. Using some lingo she thought the CEO would understand, the Little Engine Who Did, said “that mountain is a silly hilly hill, homey don’t play that,” and to the board of directors she said “our methodology is unsustainable, has anyone even bothered to think about what our values are?”

Everyone said “What do you mean? We have a vision, a mission, a motivated general manager, and we’re in the black. Keep doing it!”

The Little Engine Who Did, and was happy to keep doing it, too, if only it wasn’t such a damn uphill struggle half the time, said, “We have vision: we know how we want to change the world for the better; we make children happy. We have a mission: to deliver toys to the town on the other side of the mountain. But I’m not motivated to keep making that climb, over and over, when I think there might be better ways to deliver that fit who we are more appropriately. Did anyone think about the tracks?”

“The tracks were just there,” said the giraffe, who spoke up because he always had an easy time getting a bird’s eye view, “and based on a cursory inspection they do not appear to be broken.”

“It’s not a matter of being broken or not. It works, but I’m wearing out quickly. I don’t get to see my children much, and when I do, I’m so exhausted I fall asleep before we’re done eating our KFC. I really want to do what we do, but I don’t have a high value for our traditional methodology.”

“How else could we do it?” said the CEO.

“The first two options I see are blasting a tunnel through the mountain or building a track that goes around it. Then we could consider getting a ship and sailing around to the east, or flying some of the goods in by air. Some of those methods will cost more, some will take longer, but just getting it done isn’t going to work. We need to look at other values besides just doing it this way. In this case, there isn’t a right way to do it, just different ones.”
So they wrote it out:

Vision, or how the world will change if we succeed: Kids will play and grow!

Mission: What we are doing now: Getting toys and fruit to children.

 Values: How we do it and why we do it the way we do it. Where the train tracks go and why they go there.

“We have not thought about these very carefully before,” said the CEO, who felt his suspenders had broken and his pants were falling down, because they were. Hee, hee.

And that is when they called a coach to help them talk it over. The Beginning.


Foundational Coaching Skills Training

Interested in getting trained in Foundational Coaching Skills? I work together with CMI to provide this training every year. I don’t own the training, I just help lead it, but I can confidently say that as someone inside the industry this class is the absolute best value you can get anywhere. That’s because the training is top notch, and if you apply yourself for the entire course you’ll have a great grasp of coaching, and you’ll get it at a fraction of the price you’d get anywhere else. The deadline for this year’s FOCOS Indiana course is looming, so read more about it today if you think you might want in!

Want more info? Here you go.

Abu Dhabi: what is wealth?

What a dry place, and yet this city founded on your consumption of oil has water from somewhere. Enough for pools to swim in, bottles to drink for every guest. We went through customs, got a hotel room, went to that rooftop pool and Jacuzzi, sat on the sun deck, relaxed, looked out over the city. It’s a marvel, even if Dubai is showing them up. There’s a Ferrari theme park here, etc. But… when the oil, a.k.a. the money, dries up, what will be left here? Nothing.

On the plane ride in, I watched a couple gangster and spy movies. Gangster’s lives make for interesting movie scripts, but at the end, there’s a little footnote. “Died in prison” or whatever. I reflected on how I, and many of my friends to an even greater degree, take risks on a daily basis, risks that result in travelling the world, risks that can even land us in prison, it’s true. There are lots of ways we go through similar stresses that gangsters or spies do, travelling the world, but without the first class tickets or white tuxedos, and many fewer martinis. Admittedly, white wine on the plane. If it’s free. But the results are not the same, the effects upon our psyches, because instead of death, we hope to bring life. Instead of wealth as our goal, wealth is our goal. Just a different kind. The kind that builds cities that outlast oil.

What I am getting at here is that what we chase and hope for is a diamond, a watered city in the desert, but it’s one that doesn’t shut down for lack of funding. Ever. Now that’s real wealth. And what does it cost you to live there? Read to the end.

Isaiah 43:18 Forget the former things;

do not dwell on the past.

19 See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

and streams in the wasteland.

20 The wild animals honor me,

the jackals and the owls,

because I provide water in the wilderness

and streams in the wasteland,

to give drink to my people, my chosen,

21 the people I formed for myself

that they may proclaim my praise.

What do I need motivation for?

I love Dan Pink’s book Drive  … his basic premise is that for great motivation we need a sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose.

I began to consider this question: what are the main things we need to be motivated for? In other words, these are things that we need someone outside ourselves listening, encouraging, supporting and holding us accountable. They must, by nature, not be things that are coming easily to us, but they must also be things that we’ll want bad enough that the outside perspective isn’t using cattle prods to get us there. Nobody can make us do it without some level of internal motivation, but on the other hand, if our internal motivation is sufficient, those items don’t really go on this list. They’re changes we’re making easily enough on our own.

Here’s my incomplete list, and I invite you to comment and add your own thoughts to the discussion. What would you add or subtract?

  1. Things we want to do with excellence
  2. Things that will take a level of endurance
  3. Unpalatable tasks we must grind though
  4. Things that will involve taking a certain degree of risk
  5. Things that will require us to practice values to which we have previously only aspired to live, but now want to live out
  6. Things that we want to be intentional about living through our work and family life, in our margins, hedgerows or sabbath time
  7. Transitional elements which are naturally exhausting

The Art Of Motivational Listening

A publisher called EntrustSource has asked for my next book. This is NOT an indie project, but it’s a small publisher so they aren’t dumping a huge ton of money on me as an advance. In fact, there’s no advance at all. Here’s my Kickstarter project. My goal is to have $2000 in pre-sales by June 30. Learn more about it, see a really ridiculous video, and even get an early copy or contribute to the project here!

Here’s the “more serious” version of the video. If you want to see the ridiculous one, then you need to go to the Kickstarter campaign itself (via the link above) and check it out there.

A Car Goes Nowhere Without Fuel

Alternator, pistons, axles, tires, fuel pump and spark plugs, none of it worth a darn without some fuel in the tank.

Your emotions contain your motivation, and without tapping into that reservoir of fuel it’s pretty hard to actually change your behavior.

This week I was asked what license I was giving my trainees when I suggested that they ask questions about emotions. Isn’t that a little too close to counseling?

No, it’s not. It cleans the dirt out of the lines and helps people access what they really need for growth and change.