Sun | Jan 21, 2018

What is your motivation?

Published:Sunday | November 6, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Trevor E.S. Smith

Usain Bolt made it clear that his prime motivation was to become a legend. What is your motivation? What fuels your engine?

If you stop to think about it, there is something at the forefront of your mind. Something that guides your actions.

For you, the driving force may be career advancement. A relationship may be keeping you engaged. Money issues may be at the top of your mind or your motivation is raising your children. Health concerns may also occupy your thoughts.

One way to get to the core of what motivates you is to reflect on the first thing that comes to your mind when you wake up. Or to identify where your mind goes when it wanders off.

The importance of taking time to carefully identify your motivation is the fact that your thoughts determine who you are. Words and actions are always preceded by thought. Therefore, behaviour modification must be focused on what occupies your mind.

It is by analysing your preoccupations that you can learn more about where you are headed and identify the corrective adjustments that are required.




The goals and ties that are the focus of your attention lay out something of a road map to guide you. The map is useful. However, there is a missing component.

A map's value is limited to a specific location. However, with a compass, you can find your way from any location. In life, you need the equivalent of a compass to direct your path.

Below are some key points on life's compass.




We need to be able to make a distinction between good and evil. Things like fair play, honesty and trustworthiness are central to creating functional communities and healthy interpersonal relationships.

The ethical compass is not a set of rules and action plans that are brought over from your road map. It is a set of values, principles and standards that ought to be applied to every situation. It guides your decision-making in complex situations and in cases where your judgement is challenged.

The importance of having an ethical compass is that sometimes we are faced with truly difficult situations, and immense pressures and temptations are brought to bear on us to make inappropriate choices. Our ethical grounding empowers us to resist, even in the face of unpleasant consequences.




Despite voices of dissent, it is widely accepted that individuals who accept the role of a higher authority in their lives feel more constrained to avoid antisocial behaviour than non-believers.

Religion provides a core set of beliefs and moral principles that guide the believer's approach to life. It also embraces a structure that encourages compliance and promotes greater appreciation of core principles.

In that environment, individuals strive to lead lives that are aligned to the religious values and steer clear of behaviour unworthy of their calling.

A firmly grounded faith has even more power to guide you into making the right choices. While situation ethics might be used to wriggle out of making a hard choice, religion offers less flexibility in terms of determining right from wrong.


Agape love


The ability to view others in a favourable light so that you would treat them the way you want to be treated makes all the difference in what plays out in our homes, at work, and in the wider community. This involves the capacity to respect the needs of others and to give them due consideration even to the point of denying your own demands.

In the final analysis, having a compass with agape love as its true north is the ultimate goal. It embraces ethics and religion and moves human interaction to a higher plane.

One critical step is to reduce the focus on SELF in your thoughts, words and actions. Self-denial holds the key to transformation!

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• Trevor E.S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy, Extended DISC/FinxS.