Most people who claim to be managers, see their role as babysitters, problem-solvers and fire-fighters. This makes these wannabe managers produce babies, problems and fires all around them. The highest IQ ever measured in any human being was achieved by Marilyn Vos Savant, many years in a row. Once someone asked Marilyn what the relationship was between feeling and thinking. She said, “Feeling is what you get for thinking the way you do”. People who prosper the most from their profession, are great givers. These people stay in constant touch with their power to do so much by constantly giving their internal and external clients beneficial things --- helpful information, offers of service, respect for their time, support for their success, cheerful friendly encounters, sincere acknowledgements, the inside scoop ---- giving, giving, giving all day long, always putting the client’s wants and needs first.

Dwight Eisenhower once told the masses that “leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because the person wants to do it”. It’s not enough or important to manage people. It’s in fact not necessary. The most important thing in business at any level is just to manage agreements. This is the core ideal of getting people to motivate themselves. The myth, which almost everyone believes, is that we “have” self-discipline. Self-discipline, is like a language.The truth is that we don’t “have” self-discipline we use self-discipline. Most people think it’s a character trait or a permanent aspect of their personality.

If everybody could just understand that self-discipline is something one uses, not something one has, then that person could use it to accomplish virtually any goal they have ever set. Some people think self-discipline is put in them experimentally, some think its put in them genetically. George S. Patton said “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results”. You can’t motivate someone who can’t hear you, and in order for someone to hear you, they must first be heard. People need to appreciate that you are on their wavelength and understand their thinking completely. A true leader has the courage to represent upper management, not run it down. A true leader never uses the word “they” to refer to senior officials in the company. A true leader says “we”.

Doing more than one thing at a time produces fear, adrenaline, and anxiety in the human system and people pick up on that. People are not drawn to that. They keep away from that. The greatest source of stress in any workplace is the mind’s attempt to carry many thoughts, many tasks, many future scenarios, many cares, many worries, many concerns at once. Motivation requires a calm, centred leader, focused on one thing, and only one thing. Human beings crave real feedback, not just some patronising pacifying words. It’s no accident that “trust and communication” are the two organizational problems most often cited by employee surveys. Woodrow wilson once proudly stated “I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow”.

The quality of our motivational skill is directly related to the quality of our questions. The people you motivate will tend to divide themselves into two categories: owners and victims. Owners are people who take full responsibility for their happiness, and victims are always lost in their unfortunate stories. Victims blame others and victims blame circumstance and victims are hard to deal with. Owners own their own morale. They own their response to any situation. Ownership, by its nature, is grown by the owner of the ownership. People can encourage ownership and nourish it when they see it. They can nurture it and reward it. They can even celebrate it. If all these things are done, ownership appears. Be inspiring.

People would rather be inspired than fixed or corrected. They would rather be inspired than anything else. A psychologist named Hans Selye said “Stress, in addition to being itself and the result of itself, is also the cause of itself”. Stressing out is not a useful form of motivation. A stressed-out, tense performer only has access to a small percent of his or her skill and intelligence. Most people stress themselves out as a form (or a show) of “really caring” about hitting some goal. Caring is relaxing, focusing and calling on all of your resources, all of that relaxed magic, that lazy dynamite that you bring to bear when you pay full attention with peace of mind.

“Stress is basically a disconnection from the Earth,”says the great creativity teacher Natalie Goldberg. “It’s a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down”. It is not necessary to stress, only to focus and remain focused. In a relaxed and happy way, be relentless and undivided and peaceful and powerful. Gently indulge your own magnificent obsession. When you become a firefighter, you don’t lead anymore. You don’t decide where your team is going. The fire decides for you. (The fire: whatever current problem has flared up and captured your time and imagination).

The fire controls your life. You think you are controlling the fire, but the fire is controlling you. You become unconscious of opportunity. You become blind to possibilities, because you are immersed in, and defined by the fire. If you’re an unmotivational manager, even when you put the fire out, you hop back on the truck and take off across the company looking for another fire. Soon, all you know is fires, and all you know how to do is fight them. Even when there is no real fire, you’ll find something you’ll redefine as a fire because you are a firefighter and always want to be working. That’s the basic difference between an unconscious manager (letting the fires dictate activity) and a conscious leader (letting desired goals dictate activity).