Motivating Others

How Can We Motivate Others?

As leaders in our businesses, communities, churches, and homes, it is often our responsibility to consider how we can motivate others.

Sometimes this proves to be very challenging.  People are of their own mind and we learn that we cannot control them.  But we CAN change our own behavior and attitude with the hope of encouraging others.

In my experiences of managing people and projects in the workplace, managing a household, and raising kids, motivating my children has proved to be – by far – the greatest challenge.  I think this is because we want SO MUCH for them to make good choices and we have such a strong emotional stake in their decisions.  But if we don’t give them choices and authority over as many situations as are appropriate for their age and maturity, we can handicap their future ability to make wise decisions.

We can start small by finding practical ways to help them grow in responsiblity like allowing them to do their own laundry, prepare their own lunches, or taking complete responsibility for a pet.  The most important and most difficult aspect of giving them responsibility is choosing to stand by and let them fail when the stakes are low.  We all have to learn at some point to be responsible for ourselves.  The kindest, gentlest way to teach this is when the consequences are small.  A smelly gym uniform, no clean underwear, an empty belly for an afternoon, or the pain of realizing you caused a beloved animal discomfort (if only for a few hours) is a small price to pay for a valuable lesson learned in responsibility.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts to encourage others, the people in our lives may not respond in a way that we would choose.  When that happens, we can pray for them, do everything in our power to live peaceably with them, and focus on how we respond.  That may mean setting some boundaries, but ultimately we are not responsible for other people’s decisions.

There are some very practical things we can do to encourage and motivate others:

1.  Lead by example.

This is perhaps the most effective tool in our kit.  We can prayerfully and humbly attempt to hold up God’s standard, seeking forgiveness when we go wrong.

2.  Be an effective coach.

Scripture exhorts us to return a gentle answer (Proverbs 15:1) and to use pleasant words (Proverbs 16:24).  We all want to be treated with respect.  Prayerfully considering our tone and timing goes a long way toward softening the hearts of others so that they might be receptive to what we have to say.  I once read that Godly speech is truthful, beneficial, timely, and kind.  That is a high bar but one to reach toward.

3.  Have the difficult conversation early.

This is so tough for me as someone who is conflict-averse.  It’s so much easier for me to write this than to actually live it because I dread difficult conversations.  But it’s best for everyone involved when we have the hard conversation early before there are serious repercussions.  The Bible says to not let the sun go down on our anger (Ephesians 4:26).  It is no coincidence that the previous verse tells us to speak the truth and the beginning of the same verse says to be angry and do not sin.  It is not sinful to be angry.  Anger is a sign that we need to address what is bothering us before bitterness and resentment has a chance to take root.

4.  Give away the control.

As I type this, “My Way” by Frank Sinatra is playing in my head.  I WANT to encourage others to grow in responsibility and be more accountable.  But I want it MY way.  For example, I grow weary just thinking about all of the shopping, decorating, wrapping, and cooking that will need to be done in the next 40 days before Christmas, but I am reluctant to allow others to do it because I want it done my way.  When I talked with my kids about how I’d like for them to take on some projects for Christmas preparation, my daughter actually volunteered to do ALL of the decorating. By herself.  Gulp.  Hold me accountable ladies.  I think I should let her do it.  Her way.

Do you think that we can encourage motivation in others?  How have you motivated other people in your life lately?  What one step could you take to give away control?  Leave a comment and I’ll let you know how the decorating goes!