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  • Motivation

    I once received an email from David Allen at 4-something in the morning. Seemed to me a strange time to send email, but it made me think that this GTD thing is not the real secret.

    The real secret is motivation. GTD is just a really good system. It takes alot of gumption to make it work and a strong, definite purpose that drives the behaviors necessary to make GTD work. I suspect that many of us who spend alot of time tweaking our system dont need a better system - we need more gumption and clearer purpose. The former (gumption) probably follows the latter (purpose).

    If you arent out to move mountains, you dont need a very good shovel, but for some strange reason you feel like you're accomplishing something by hunting for one.

    I've found that my purpose for using GTD is primarily to keep stuff out of my face. Thats not a strong enough purpose to drive GTD behavior.

  • #2
    I once went to a workshop given by a v successful therapist. In essence, the workshop was about how to do what she did to become so successful. (Where I live, her success was quite remarkable.) She did give quite a number of good tips, but I asked a couple friends of hers what they felt her "real secret" was ... it wasn't what she did... they said the secret to her success was her formidable energy .. and I believe energy is a "secret" for many other types of success -- including GTD. I don't know about David, but I believe that is one of the "secrets" to Jason Womack's success.

    I've gotten quite a lot of out of the book Full Engagement ...

    Comment


    • #3
      Although I currently work as a web developer I used to install fire sprinkler systems. We were doing an inspection an a system at a rather large plant and they had signs every 50 feet or so throught the plant that said, "Motivation is not an external pressure applied, but an internal force released."

      That phrase has always stuck with me. My full-time job is in the eServices department for a large federal credit union. We have to stay on top of technology and we have to implement accurately and quickly. Our department motto is, "High Speed, Low Drag."

      Besides my full-time job I also have a side business, I'm a partner in another business, I have a lovely wife, and I'm active in my church. How do I do it? I tell people, "I don't idle well." I've always been this way. In high school I remember my Mom telling me that I needed to relax more. I have to continually be doing something. Reading a programming manual or interacting with the GTD groups is about as relaxed as I get. I have a hard time "just hanging out".

      Having said all that, most of the time I do have a fair amount of "motivation". There are times when I'm not very motivated so I have to find ways of tricking myself to get back in gear. Since I've discovered GTD and got it really integrated into my life those times are very rare and the GTD system helps me to snap out of it quickly.

      As for the email from David at 4:00 AM. I don't need much sleep myself either. 5 to 6 hours usually does it for me. If I get much more than that then I'm actually quite sluggish all day long. This is kind of like getting an extra day during the week.

      Comment


      • #4
        How to be "energy man"?

        So we can agree that success is based on the internal energy released.
        But the question is why so many people cannot release this energy?
        In other threads of this forum it was said that everything can be learned "by habits". I do not agree with that. In my opinion it is nearly impossible to teach someone integrity or internal energy release. People can change but rather because of traumatic experience or growing up at their own rate (everything has its time in the life).
        TesTeq

        Comment


        • #5
          In Chapter 50 of Ready for Anything David is writing that he was wondering, "Why do some people 'get' this productivity- enhancing methodology and others not?"

          he goes on to write that the people, companies, and organizations that have had ethe most success in implementing and maintaining his system are people, organizations, and businesses that have a "consistent, internal, forward momentum. It's not lip-served or a merely conceptual 'desire to improve' but rather a real deep-seated pull toward some improved future state for themselves or at least for things they feel responsible for. That s why people and organizations that look very similar have highly varying degrees of attraction to what we do. Their drive to get somewhere easier, faster, and better can be quite different."
          But the question is why so many people cannot release this energy?
          David's answer to this question is that they aren't identified with getting someplace different than where they already are. They might also be unwilling to admit that they need to change some behaviors.

          There are a number of people around me that I would love to give a "motivation injection" but that isn't something that I can do. I just hope that they see it in me will one day decide to come along for the ride.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for Chapter 50 info.

            Thank you for Ready for Anything Chapter 50 information.
            Unfortunately up to know I had no time to begin reading RfA book. Shame on me . I'm moving this Next Action from Someday/Maybe to @Anywhere context and put the book in my briefcase.
            TesTeq

            Comment


            • #7
              Motivation

              What do you know? David Allen agrees with me! He says it alot better though.

              I wonder how many of those who lack motivation have the gnawing in the gut that I do? I've never been able to muster the gumption to accomplish anything really substantial in my life, but I have never been able to escape the notion that I should.

              So, where does motivation come from?

              Can we get more of it if we havent got enough?

              Comment


              • #8
                Something to think about

                I learned three major things from GTD (some of which I'd learned from other places, but GTD summed them up nicely):

                1. Get your thoughts on paper. If any thought crosses your mind more than once, you probably should objectively look at it by writing it down. Doing so frees you to think about things rather than of them.

                2. Motivation comes from outcome focusing, from looking at our life top down, in much the same way that projects should be clarified by thinking them through top down. If you are unmotivated about a project or unclear about what you should be doing, then you need to think at a higher level; and you may ultimately need to clarify "why" do it. Similarly, your goals in life can be thought of as just big projects. What do you want to do with your life? Where do you see yourself in X years? Why? What is the vision? No matter what you do, you'll be somewhere in X years -- is it going to be where you want to be or where you drift into?

                3. Energy comes from thinking through operationally, looking at our life bottom up, keeping track of all that's going on, and continuously taking a next step (action) towards our outcomes. We can relax knowing that with enough next steps, we will find our outcomes coming to fruition.

                A further tip about motivation: Earl Nightingale's audio program Lead The Field is a great complement to GTD. GTD really focuses on the bottom levels of life, the actions and projects we have. Lead the Field focuses on the upper levels: your goals and responsibilities. The first half in particular (especially side 5) is outstanding and very different in persepective from much of the other literature out there on goal setting. It is, I think, responsible for giving me the motivation to implement GTD in my life.

                Thanks,
                Phil Gomez

                Comment


                • #9
                  There are two objectives of being motivated which I have been trying, without much success, to reconcile.

                  First, there is a version of motivated which is described in emotional terms: fired up; juiced, energised and so on.

                  Then there is Mind-Like-Water, or Flow, or The Zone, with I associate with the serene and the calm.

                  Are they opposites, or are they compatible? Do you get to the end of an energized day feeling totally burnt out, and to the end of a flow day feeling as fresh as when you started?

                  Can you get fired up to be in flow? Is emotional motivation the tool you need to get your unfocussed cold-starting mind whizzing up to optimal performance levels?

                  I have spent quite a few mornings trying to work this out over a pre-work coffee. I ended up feeling as if I was trying to walk after growing an extra pairs of legs.


                  Dave

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Fire Like Water

                    Originally posted by Busydave
                    There are two objectives of being motivated which I have been trying, without much success, to reconcile.

                    First, there is a version of motivated which is described in emotional terms: fired up; juiced, energised and so on.

                    Then there is Mind-Like-Water, or Flow, or The Zone, with I associate with the serene and the calm.

                    Are they opposites, or are they compatible?....
                    Dave
                    Dave,

                    The way you have conceptualized them they are opposites, which is why you are having so much trouble. I think the problem is the way you are conceptualizing the second set of terms. Mind-Line-Water, Flow, and The Zone are not necessarily associated with states of serene calm. Many of the descriptions of flow-like states that I have read or heard were from athletes describing peak moments of competition and fighter pilots describing episodes of aerial combat. I think that these people were about as fired up and juiced as anyone can get.

                    Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, the creator of the term "Flow" describes three conditions that enable flow:
                    - clear goals
                    - immediate and unambigous feedback
                    - a match between challenges and skills
                    From this, it is easy to see how many people report being in flow while being in athletic competition or battle.

                    If you look at DA's definition of "Mind Like Water" in the GTD book, it has mainly to do with effortlessly deciding what to do and doing it, even when faced with a changing mix of hundreds of commitments.

                    If there is any serenity or calm in these states it is found in the absence of dithering, confusion, and second-guessing. You just know what to do, and you do it.

                    This is similar to the Japanese term "mushin" which means "no mind." To explain that, I would like to quote from an article on self defense by David Nerbovig (http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC04/Nerbovig.htm). In it, he provides an excellent description of this state of mind.

                    The most advanced state of mind is called Mushin or, "no mind." This is essentially hooking oneself into the world without the filter and domination (and wasted time) of conscious thought. In the hands of a master, this can become the Karate of spontaneous creation where the art is so well understood that techniques seem to create themselves to fit the situation. When this occurs, the master has become Karate personified, and the conscious mind ceases to exist as a separate entity. In a self-defense situation, the mind sees clearly and considers (Zanshin), focuses the powers (Isshin), and then gets out of the way (Mushin). These things do not lend themselves to easy explanation. The martial arts must be done to be understood.
                    Hope that is helpful.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, the creator of the term "Flow" describes three conditions that enable flow:
                      - clear goals
                      - immediate and unambigous feedback
                      - a match between challenges and skills
                      From this, it is easy to see how many people report being in flow while being in athletic competition or battle.
                      Actually, the perfect "match" between challenges and skills seems to be just a bit "over the top" for the particular person. I.e. the task is just a bit too difficult, but you know you can achieve it, if you strain your skills just a little.

                      Just my $0.02

                      ::: emp :::

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Scott

                        Thanks for the great response.

                        I really was barking up the wrong three; even though DA always refers to mind-like-water as a martial arts concept, and even though he gives and example (plus sound effects) on GTD Fast, I never really focussed on the dynamic aspect of it before. I suppose I was too distracted by the idea of being calm in the eye of the storm.

                        Your post reminded me of my days playing basketball – the best moments I remember were the moments when new scoring moves just came to me spontaneously.

                        We had a Catholic religious instruction teacher when I was about sixteen in school. We liked him, but categorised him as intellectual and uninterested in sports. But one day he referred to playing sport as “stepping into the eternal”.

                        I can see from your post that the key is to discard confusion and let one’s abilities act directly on the situation at hand. This has thrown a whole new light on GTD for me.

                        Scott, you have put up some excellent posts relating Eastern thought with Western concepts. I have read a lot of books on Zen in particular, but I was always expecting to see serenity on the other side – I never thought to look for action.

                        A lady was interviewed on BBC radio about an introduction to Buddhism that she had written. She described Buddhism as a “program for action”. Now I can see what she meant.

                        I have often read the Zen description of the mind as being a “mad monkey”. I had focussed on calming the mad monkey; it looks like I actually should have been trying to step around it to leave it behind.

                        Dave

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by emp
                          Actually, the perfect "match" between challenges and skills seems to be just a bit "over the top" for the particular person. I.e. the task is just a bit too difficult, but you know you can achieve it, if you strain your skills just a little.
                          ::: emp :::
                          Absolutely. When Csikszentmihalyi says match, he means that the challenge is at the edge of your "skills envelope." If it is well inside the envelope, you will become bored and apathetic. If it is outside of your envelope entirely, you will become frustrated and anxious. The key is that you are challenged sufficiently to engage and hold your full attention.

                          At this URL,

                          http://www.dis.unimelb.edu.au/staff/...%20seminar.pdf

                          there is a set of slides that I presume were done by Csikszentmihalyi. It contains a very nice chart that shows the kinds of emotional states that will arise from different combinations of challenge and skill.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Dave,

                            A couple things...

                            Originally posted by Busydave
                            I suppose I was too distracted by the idea of being calm in the eye of the storm.
                            When I was first learning about Eastern thought I had a devil of a time before I realized that non-action was not inaction. Similarly the calm of mind-like-water is not the calm of passivity. It is the calm of clarity.

                            Originally posted by Busydave
                            I can see from your post that the key is to discard confusion and let one’s abilities act directly on the situation at hand. This has thrown a whole new light on GTD for me.
                            Confusion cannot simply be discarded. If you are confused, you are confused. You must work through confusion to clarity. Mind-like-water visits the advanced practitioner after considerable discipline and practice.

                            I was listening to a sermon by Presbyterian pastor named Alistair Begg once. He related something about gaining clarity that stuck with me. Being a knowledge worker, it is often more useful to me than martial metaphors. It was something he learned in seminary. When approaching new material,
                            - Think yourself empty
                            - Read yourself full
                            - Write yourself clear

                            Originally posted by Busydave
                            I have often read the Zen description of the mind as being a “mad monkey”. I had focussed on calming the mad monkey; it looks like I actually should have been trying to step around it to leave it behind.
                            Another useful metaphor is that the mind is like a wild horse that needs to be tamed and bridled before it can be ridden. It is better to ride a well trained horse than to walk.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Scott_L_Lewis
                              When I was first learning about Eastern thought I had a devil of a time before I realized that non-action was not inaction. Similarly the calm of mind-like-water is not the calm of passivity. It is the calm of clarity.
                              Now I understand where the freed up energy comes from.

                              Originally posted by Scott_L_Lewis
                              Another useful metaphor is that the mind is like a wild horse that needs to be tamed and bridled before it can be ridden. It is better to ride a well trained horse than to walk.
                              That is a great application of the concept to knowledge work. All of the examples I ever read were based around physical labor: harvesting rice, sweeping, fetching water and so on. In those situations the mind can be an obstacle. However, when you actually have to use your mind as a tool, the tamed horse hits the target.

                              Dave

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