It isn’t my intention to offend anyone with the title of this post, but I use it for two reasons: 1. I’m giving up profanity for lent, making this my last hurrah, and 2. Motivation is BullS**t.

I say this because you can’t motivate me and I can’t motivate you. We can only motivate ourselves, and it’s our job to figure out how to do it. Hacking our own psychology to get the most out of our potential is our most important job, every day.

Last fall, I had the opportunity to shake hands with my hero, Mark Sanborn. When I was a sophomore in high school, I watched the renowned leadership speaker at the Ohio State FFA Convention. I was hooked, and knew, watching him on stage that day, that that’s what I wanted to do with my life.

When I met Mr. Sanborn at the Columbus National Speakers Association meeting, I told him that he changed my life. He laughed at me and told me “no, you changed your life. I just helped you find the tools.”

He was right. He didn’t make decisions for me and he didn’t show up and put in the work. I did those things. He simply changed my perspective and gave me insights on how I could do it. He didn’t “motivate me,” he instructed me.

Education is valuable. Getting insights that allow us to become who we want to be is important. Ultimately, however, we have to do the lifting ourselves. We have to find whatever it is that motivates us to get better and leverage it.

I’ve written before about how I strive to look my best because it motivates me to be my best. Washing your car, shining your shoes, cleaning your desk, all of these little things can be motivating. Listening to your song, reading inspiring books, watching inspiring movies can too. These things can lift our mood and help give us the tools, but we have to pick them up and use them ourselves.

Motivation is bulls*t. I can’t motivate you, and you can’t motivate me. We only motivate ourselves, but with the right tools used correctly, that’s a job we’re all capable of doing.

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