Monday, May 28, 2007

Motivation - Where Does It Come From?

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A subscriber from the Netherlands recently sent me an email asking me where I get my motivation. I thought that was a good question but my first inclination was to say that "I was born with this inner desire to do great things."

But then the more I thought about it, the more I realized it could be traced back to my parents but not in the way you might think.

Before I go any further, I want you to know that my Dad is a faithful reader and subscriber of this blog. He is quite comfortable with the context of the story I am about to share with you because he tells complete strangers about it every chance he gets. Dad knows how he played a powerful hand in shaping me to become the person I am today, even though his methods might have been the opposite of what you would expect, given the success I currently enjoy.

When I became old enough to get a job during the mid-seventies, I wanted to work at the Sipperly Brothers gas station, a stone's throw from my house. One day, I excitedly told Dad of my intentions.

"Steve, they aren't going to hire you. You're deaf, remember?" He was trying to protect me from the rejection that would surely come at the heels of my job application.

Somehow I had the courage and went for it anyway, completely ignoring his advice. To everyone's surprise (including my own), I ended up getting hired on the spot. I couldn't wait to tell Dad the good news. Every night he would ask me how it was going to which I would reply, "GREAT!"

Unfortunately my stint in the world of work was rather short-lived. On more than one occasion, the owner's son and I were caught behind the gas station drinking coke, playing a game of marbles or otherwise bantering around without a care in the world. Thinking I was bad influence around his son, Mr. Sipperly ended up firing me, Donald Trump style.

Embarrassed over what happened, I pretended that I was going to work for one whole week after that. I didn't want to give my father ammunition to say, I told you so!

So how did I pull it off?

Would you believe I hid in the woods until it was time to go home for supper?

Mom and Dad never had a clue but I knew I couldn't keep up this charade much longer. It was only a matter of time before I would get caught. It was time to come clean.

My chance arrived one night at the supper table but it came sooner than I wanted.

"Hey, Steve, how's your job going at Sipperly's?" said Dad. He was smiling.

Caught off guard, I stopped chewing my food and stared at him. A single thread of spaghetti hung rather unattractively over my lower lip.

Snapping back to reality, I quickly slurped the macaroni between my two front teeth, gingerly set the fork down and subconsciously began rubbing my hands across the top of my summer shorts.

"Mom and Dad......"

Taking a deep breath, I continued, "Um, I got fired."

"Why, when, how?!?" They were tripping over each other like those actors on "MAD, MAD TV."

"A-a-a-a couple weeks ago. Uh, Kenny (the boss's son) and I were caught goofing off a couple of times. Yeah."

Bracing myself for the inevitable reprimand, I sat rigidly in my chair and waited for the explosion.

It never came.

Like a cool cat, Dad said, "And where were you all this time when you were supposedly at work?"

"In the woods," I replied sheepishly.

Mom and Dad exchanged amused looks, trying to suppress a laugh. They were thinking, "Aww, how cute!"

My father turned to me and said with a straight face, "Okay, after supper, I want you to go to your room and think about what just happened and don't come out until you've thought about it all the way through."

Hurriedly mopping off the last of remnants of supper with Mom's homemade bread, I made a beeline straight to my bedroom where I stayed the rest of the night.

A couple of weeks later, I decided to give myself another shot at getting a job someplace else. This time it was a busy pizza parlor at the local shopping mall.

Of course, I told Dad of my intentions, hoping to get his approval. Once again, he tried to discourage me but I could tell he seemed a little less resistant than before.

That was all I needed.

Encouraged and defiant, I went to the pizza parlor and got myself hired. It didn't matter that I was there to clean up instead of actually making the pizza. You never saw a more proud pimply teenage boy with shiny braces!

This ended up becoming a pattern throughout the rest of my teenage years. I went on to work at other fast food places, got myself a lawn mowing job at an elderly lady's house and worked for my aunt up at her place of business.

Over time, I gradually chipped away Dad's maternal need to "protect me." He was learning too. He saw that once I set my mind on achieving something, there wasn't much anyone could do about it. I was going for it, come high hell or water. This would later prepare me for years on Wall Street.

His reluctance to encourage me actually ended up being one of his greatest gifts. Think about this for a second. While we all need emotional support for the things we want to achieve in life, from a cosmic point of view, we also need people who try and stop us because they are the ones who help us build our character, give us more courage and strengthen our risk-taking muscles.

Bottom line? Dad's mission was to play the tough guy. By carrying it out flawlessly, he unwittingly helped me become an award-winning Wall Street stockbroker, motivational speaker, author and the first deaf pilot in the world to get an instrument rating. So, hats off to you Dad!

By the way, nowadays when I tell him about my future dreams including but not limited to being the first deaf pilot to fly a small jet, appear as a guest on Oprah, write a best-seller, speak all over the world, he now knows that it is a near certainty, given my track record!

Now, let's talk about my mother for a moment. Her role was similar yet different. I'll never forget how she handled herself one sunny morning during the school week. I was in third grade at the time.

Among the usual cluster of neighborhood kids waiting for the school bus was Patty, a tough little tyke with a rather sordid reputation. Twice my size, she walked around with a "don't mess with me" kind of attitude.

For some reason, I was made a target on that particular morning. She teased me relentlessly and tried to provoke me. Rather than fighting back, I ran back down the steep hill to my house, wailing at the top of my lungs. It was my first brush with a school bully who happened to be a girl.

Good God, what in the world......!

Arriving at the front door, I pounded against it with all my might, calling for my mother.

Seconds later she appeared from behind the screen door, wearing an apron and yellow gloves. She must have been baking a pie or something.

Concern was etched across her pretty movie star face, betraying her normal sense of calm. Perhaps her little boy had just gotten hit by a car or something.

Blubbering incoherently, I cried, "Patty's picking on me."

As soon as those words tumbled out of my mouth, I somehow knew the front door was not opening up anytime soon. Her eyes quickly changed from wide to narrow slits. Slowly folding her arms across her bosom, she said in the sternest voice she could muster, "Stephen, you get your ass back up there and go to school, RIGHT NOW!"

I had expected her to step outside, put her arms around me and sympathetically ask what in the world Patty was doing to her precious little boy.

"NOOOO," I pleaded with her. "Come with me and tell Patty to leave me alone!!"

My mother would have none of it. She stood there defiantly, with an outstretched arm like Hilter, pointing to the school bus stop up the hill.

I later learned that it was one of the hardest things she ever had to do. She desperately wanted kneel down and slobber kisses all over her little boy's face and march right up the hill to teach that young lady a lesson or two. But she knew better.

Realizing she meant business, I turned around and marched angrily back to the bus stop, muttering a string of ugly expletives.

Of course, I was too young to understand what she was trying to do. In fact, I thought she was the meanest mother on the planet that day. But you and I know differently - her gift to me was that she planted a powerful seed of independence. You were right on the mark that day, Mom! Hats off to you too!

So, there you have it. My motivation originally came from a wonderful Mom and Dad long before Mrs. Jordan, my fifth grade teacher, made a divine appearance on the stage of my life with three most famous words, "That's right, Stephen!"

Food for thought: Where do you think you get your motivation from? Whether you believe it or not, you have it in there somewhere. Go and tell!

Now, I have a surprise for you - see below:

I found a cute video that never fails to lift me up whenever I'm low on energy. Watch what happens while the mother Panda Bear happily chomps on dinner. You'll love it! Note: You may have to watch it a couple of times because "it happens" so quickly:

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