MOTIVATION: The First Trait of Mental Toughness

"Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me." - Carol Burnett

Over the years, I have heard so many say, “Well what’s your motivation?” “What motivates you to do what you do?” “Aren't you motivated?” “Where’s your motivation?” “You lack motivation.” We have all heard it time and again. Many of us have asked those questions of someone and I am quite sure a great many of you have been asked about your own motivations.


Recently, I saw a young lady on a talk show saying motivation doesn't exist. That it is something just made up. That no one can motivate you to do anything, not even yourself. Well obviously, this young lady has never been challenged in a way that she was faced with a life or death situation. Believe me, when you are placed in a dangerous situation you are motivated to survive. I believe you can look at it in two ways – you motivate yourself to get yourself out of whatever the situation is or the situation itself that presents the threat can be seen as the motivation you need to either stay to fight or run to safety.

For many people that I have spoken with, their motivation has been the idea of a successful outcome, a win. I like to say, “WINNING”! Motivation is what keeps you moving towards the prize, the achievement, the success you seek. Something I have used as far back as I can remember is visualizing myself reaching that prize, that goal, that success I wanted so badly. That visualized desire will keep you focused on what it takes to get you there.

Another thing I have used is the following saying, “You can’t beat me or this can’t beat me.” When my children played youth sports, high school varsity sports, and college sports they would say things like “I don't know pops this is hard.” I would always tell them “yep, it is but you can't be beat.” When my youngest played college football his saying was “You can't beat me.” On the field, he would say that to opposing players. It was his motivation to win. You cannot beat me. I will out work you. I will out play you. I will out study you. But, what this short saying did was to focus each one of them on what mattered most, staying focused or motivated on the prize.

Ask yourself, “Why do I want this so badly?” “Why is it important to achieve this goal?” When thinking of these two questions and the saying “you can’t beat me”, it becomes rather easy to see how this all works together. Why do I want to so badly? I don't like to be beat. Why is it important to achieve this goal? I don't like to be beat. When you can figure out the answers to these questions you will understand your motivation and desires. When you understand your motivations and desires it becomes much easier to clearly define your objectives, what it is you want and why.

Recently, I read the most recent blog post on the blog site titled, What Is Mile 12 Concept. I suggest you take a few minutes to read it yourself. The writer, who is also my youngest son, explains how in many ways motivation is really nothing more than an idea or vision. He talks about how in the middle of the night soaking wet, cold to the bone, halfway through a 24-hour race he questions his reasons for being there. What his why is. Why it was important to do what he was doing at that moment in time on the race course climbing a mountain in the pitch-black dead of night, soaking wet, and cold to the very core of his being. It was at that point, he realized what his true motivation was but you will have to read it to find out.

I see motivation as one of the top traits needed for mental toughness. In my next blog, I will talk about confidence and why it is another important trait in developing mental toughness.

You can listen to the Podcast at Jeff Heiser Radio Podcast 95.