Back in 1974, Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was a best-seller.
Written to help with inner peace, it was likely targeted to an audience of high-achieving, business-owning, driven-to-succeed entrepreneurs.
How do you stay motivated in the face of change, tough times, and employees who seem determined to fill your life with mayhem? Patient satisfaction and life-changing treatments provide doses of inspiration, but over time the maintenance of motivation can be as delicate as the gear shifter of a vintage motorcycle.
The following guidelines and comparisons can help.
Whether old or new, off the show- room floor or stored for years in a garage, before boarding a motorcycle the seasoned rider inspects everything. The seasoned chiropractic professional does the same, but tends to examine business issues in the practice.
When the effort of running a practice is draining, when you feel stuck and wonder what to do, or you want to clobber the next team member who interrupts with a question, it’s time to make a thorough inspection of all things personal and professional to regain your motivation to persevere. What is working? What’s not? What triggers a ray of hope? What is standing in the way?
Even if your sense of motivation seemingly vanished overnight, the issue is rarely the practice alone. The feeling has probably been building, but left unaddressed until it began to feel overwhelming. Take a breath, look at everything, and start making lists.
Write one list for things to be eliminated, including annoyances. Write another list of things you want instead. Finally, list the feelings you would rather have than the ones you’re having now. These steps can start building the momentum you’ll need to renew or increase your motivation.
Use disciplined focus
Although it’s harder to determine as a passenger, driving a motorcycle takes unwavering focus. So does running a practice and treating a patient. Sure, there are moments of downtime and situations where autopilot kicks in, but these are not warranted while you are driving a chopper on a highway.
So if motivation feels missing in your life and in your practice, it’s time to re-engage your focus. Take note of what’s on the second list above, and ardently focus on the items you desire.
A common mistake is to keep your focus on the problems, bad feelings, and frustration you’re feeling, and complain that nothing seems to be changing. Until your mindset is one of seeing possibilities and finding motivation, it’s improbable that you’ll be patient with the process and take the kinds of actions that will actually change things.
It might be that you simply need a vacation. Perhaps your lack of motivation stems from procrastinating about hiring another person. Or maybe firing someone is long overdue and it’s wearing on everyone in the office.
Motivation can only be regained if you can identify what’s missing and see gaining it as a possibility. That act alone can provide a much-needed jolt of energy.
Charge your batteries
No amount of inner peace will rescue a rider with a drained and dead battery on the side of the highway.
But, why wait until the engine stops running to do some needed recharging?
Humans weren’t designed like a machine. But for both to reach high levels of performance, they require lubrication, fuel, and regular maintenance.
In the same way, even the most talented doctors and office managers need regular maintenance as well.
Take the time to recharge your batteries before it’s critically necessary. Rent the boat, test drive the car, and plant the garden you’ve always wanted.
Whatever you need to do to recharge your batteries, get to it and feel the energy or simple downtime it brings. Waiting until you are forced to do it makes the process longer, more costly, and may require exceptional remedies to fix what is broken.
Running wide open
Riders will tell you that there is no greater feeling than the wind in their hair, the freedom of the open road, and the exhilaration of riding wide open. These images are symbolic and alluring.
Conversely, it’s draining when you are held back from realizing your potential. Worrying about the future sucks the life out of a dreamer. Always playing it safe leaves room for regret and is demotivating when you find the time has passed for achieving what you wanted.
To regain your motivation, pick an area to ride where the road is wide and open. Even if this only applies to making your list of desires, make sure to dream big, be uncensored, and grant yourself permission to really go for it.
There is great joy in traveling down an uncertain path. Each person has such a route available if they’ll allow themselves to take it—but it won’t be easy. There can be formidable barriers and possibly naysayers, too. Henry Ford’s engineers told him that casting an eight-cylinder engine block in one piece was impossible. His response? “Produce it anyway.”
After conducting a full inspection, making lists, gaining focus, charging batteries, and riding wide open, the final step in motivation maintenance is to make decisions. What action, person, event, or previous decision led to the loss of motivation in the first place?
The thing you need to do might not be major or life-changing. It could be something as simple as making time for lunch four days out of seven. The key is to take back the driver’s seat in your life and how you feel about living it.
Maybe the sole decision you need to make is to have a life beyond work. Is it time to delegate some things? Is it time to hire an office manager? Is it time to decide to not pursue the next bright, shiny, and latest equipment when what you have is working?
Decisions that inspire motivation are usually personal.
What often leads to demotivation is the assumption that what works for others must work for you, especially if it isn’t something you feel like doing. Doing it anyway creates guilt that eats at motivation and leaves you wondering where all the fun went.
Rinse and repeat
Motivation can be fickle if it isn’t well managed. The same can be said for happiness, love, and relationships.
You wouldn’t tell a loved one of their feelings one time and never express them again. Motivation takes main- tenance. Energy takes maintenance. Goals take work and require an unwavering focus and patience.
If your motivation for running a business, seeing another patient, or handling employee issues has left the building, consider physically doing the same even for just a moment.
Find a tree, a park bench, or a motor- cycle seat, and get started on the art of motivation maintenance. With a little effort and some momentum, motivation should return fairly quickly.
Monica Wofford CSP, is a leadership development coach, consultant, and professional speaker. As CEO of training firm Contagious Companies Inc., she and her team work with chiropractic practices, healthcare, retail, hospitality, government, and industry leaders to develop their leadership skills. She can be contacted at 866-382-0121, or through contagiouscompanies.com. (And her family has Honda, Suzuki, and Triumph motorcycles.)