Episode 361: Motivate Me

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In the long term, motivation has to come from within. In the short term, motivation from others–sometimes known as KITA or “kick in the anatomy” motivation–may work, but  eventually we all rebel against those external forces.

So how do you maximize your internal motivation? Here’s what’s works for Dr. Misner.

  1. Minimize contact with negative people. Some people complain as though it were an Olympic event. Keep clear of them.
  2. Maximize the time you have with positive people. Hang out with people who make you want to do better.
  3. Read, listen to, and watch positive things. Eliminate the negative and destructive.
  4. Prioritize the things you want to do and the things you must do. Make a list so you can get a handle on it.
  5. Remember, you eat the elephant one bite at a time. Tackle at least one thing every single day.

Small wins can be very motivating, so find a short-term goal to help drive you forward.

Brought to you by Networking Now.

Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 361 –

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan, how are you and where are you?

I am in France still this week, doing a big tour of Europe for BNI and spending a little time in France. But I always have time to do these podcasts and today we are going to do a topic of called “motivate me”.

This comes about because I had a message from a BNI member not long ago. He reads my columns and listens to my podcasts and he said, “What do you do when you don’t feel motivated? How do you motivate yourself? What do you do to regain that motivation needed to move on with your plans and pursue your endeavors?”

I thought it was a great question, so I spent a little time putting together some thoughts on this. First of all, I have to say that motivation absolutely comes from within, not from outside. No one can motivate you but yourself. At least, I am talking about long term motivation. Many years ago, I read an article by Frederick Herzsberg on motivation. It was in the Harvard Business Review. He said that others can motivate you but only in the short term.

He called it “KITA”. You can do KITA motivation on the short term. It stands for – now remember, this is in the Harvard Business Review. Kick in the anatomy. He called it “Kick in the atatomy”. He was probably pretty accurate. You can motivate somebody by doing something aggressive or assertive, but the problem with that is that the first chance they have, they will undermine you.

So you can’t really motivate others. They have to motivate themselves. The same applies to you. You have to motivate yourself. So what do you do to motivate yourself?

I think long term motivate definitely comes from within. Here are some of the things that have helped me. Some of these things may help BNI members. I hope they do. You have to find the things that work for you. Here are the things that work for me:

First, minimize contact with negative people. I think that is a really important one. This isn’t always completely possible but do it as much as you can, at least for a short while. I really believe that some people complain as though it were an Olympic event. Keep clear of them while you are trying to get your mojo back. I think that is really important. Stay away from negative people.

Two, maximize the time that you have with positive people to refuel your energy. I really believe that they become the five or six people that you hang out the most with. Hang out with people who make you want to do better, who make you want to be better. Set meetings with them. Go to business events together, anything that puts you around positive people.

You know the flip of that first one, avoid the negative ones. It’s easy to avoid the negative ones and then go hide and you don’t meet anybody. Avoid the negative ones and hang around people who refuel your energy.

Third, read, listen, watch positive things. If you are feeling down, read a positive book. Listen to an audiobook or a podcast with a positive message. Watch something that makes you laugh. Surround yourself with some things that you love to be influenced by. Let that be in your life as much as possible.

When I had my health challenge in my life a couple of years ago, I actually took a couple of TV shows that I loved, absolutely loved, but they were crime shows and they were fairly violent. I stopped watching them.

Yeah. That makes sense.

I loved the writing. It was really, really good, but I finally came to the conclusion that I just don’t need that around me right now. I need to be positive. I need to be focused on healing. I need to be in a better place. So I am not even going to put this stuff in my life. I think it really helps make a difference.

Fourth, prioritize the things that you want to do and the things that you must do. As a business many, I live by lists. The more I get a handle on the things I need to do and that I want to do, the easier it is to tackle them. It’s important to understand that here is a list of things that I really want to do. They may not be critical, but it is good for my soul right now. This is what I want to do. And then make a list of the things that absolutely have to get done.

And number five, last one. Remember, you eat the elephant one bite at a time. Take that list that you have created and tackle something on that list every single day. If you really do this, you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish. The more you accomplish, then the better you feel. It sort of feeds on itself.

Sometimes I just feel completely overwhelmed with work. Completely overwhelmed.

I bet.

And when I make a list of the things that I need to do and just start ticking it off, one at a time- boom, boom, boom- I actually start feeling a little better that day. And the next day, even a little better and the next day even a little better.

The truth is, Priscilla, there is a lot that we can do to become motivated, but I believe for me, a list is a great start. It also keeps your eye on the ball. You are staying focused on the things that need to be done.

If your motivation is low, it helps to step out of the small picture, day to day, and remember the big picture. Why are you doing what you do? Why am I doing this? What is this all about? Allow yourself to be motivated by that bigger vision and let those kinds of goals drive you. Remembering why you are doing what you do in business can help you understand and develop some new energy in going forward.

So if you are struggling as this BNI member was, and look, as I have- it’s funny. I wrote an article and somebody commented, “Surely you are always motivated.” No, absolutely not. I am not always. Nobody ever is.

If you are struggling with motivation, and after reading and trying some of the things above, one of my friends had a great suggestion. Let your “to do” list be driven by a short term goal. What would you like to achieve in the next week or at the most, next month, that inspires you to act today because small winds can be really motivating.

So take a look at that list and say, what can I do right now that can help me accomplish some of the things right now? Those small winds can help move you forward.

I totally agree, Ivan. I live by my list. I take a tremendous pleasure in checking things off. In fact, recording this podcast is on my list. As soon as we are done, it will get a check mark. It really helps me get through all the things I need to do as well.

You know, sense of accomplishment was one of the things that Frederick Herzberg talked about on motivation, that people are motivated when they feel that they have accomplished things, whatever things were important to them. So that is why I think the list thing works for me.

Remember, this is what works for me. Some of these things may or may not work for you. But here is the deal- if you can’t find what works for you, try these out that I am talking about. I think you will find that it can help turn around your attitude. Remember, nobody can motivate you. Only you can motivate you.


That’s it for today, Priscilla.

Great. Thank you that was wonderful. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.


  1. Ajit Sakhardande says

    Just before a while I wrote an email appeal to my members to motivate me with positive actions in order to help me provide more quality service to the chapter. Coincidentally, I happened to read this episode and realise that the inner urge to do something decides the quality of output.
    Motivate me – is a great guide
    Ajit Sakhardande
    BNI Mandovi – MC
    Goa- India

  2. says

    I think sometimes, especially in US culture, people have forgotten that there are two elements to motivation – the internal and the external. Often, when poor performance is an issue, the blame is put on the external motivators like bosses and peers. Conversely, excellent performance is often attributed to the internal motivators. Which comes first – lack of internal motivation or poor performance? Or is it a downward spiral?

    I think I would have to agree with the gist of the podcast – ramping up internal motivation will result in increased performance which will feed internal motivation.

    Let’s take the first bite (#5) together!

Solutions-focused comments are welcome