Pushing on the elliptical machine for over thirty minutes, I increased the resistance to simulate climbing stairs for the remainder of my workout. It was quiet until a trainer and his client (who is serious about losing weight) walked in. I had seen them at the gym for the last three months but never had a conversation with either one of them. We all get familiar with those voices that disregard the presence of anyone else around them, and talk as loudly as possible to make their presence known—this duo had that annoying loud pitched voice. Even with no intention to partake in their discussion, I was now forced to hear the conversation of the day.
“It has been three months and I am still struggling with my weight,” says the trainee. The physical trainer nods. “But I think your endurance has increased since you started,” he said in a positive tone. “But what about the weight?” asked the guy looking for hope to find a solution to his problem. “I have also changed my diet like you asked,” he added, as he breathed heavily and sped up on the treadmill. Questioning his weight loss program, the trainee said, “maybe I need more motivation.”
I wiped the machine I was working out on, picked up my keys, and walked out the exit door. Walking back, I realized that as human beings we are apt in blame storming; we rely on all the external sources that we so confidently assume will help us achieve our goals. Whether it is dropping the extra pounds, doing better in our relationship, performing better at work —always looking for some external force—that will help us make our mark. Motivation is that external stimulus that ignites the desire to achieve something more, but, it is not the sole ingredient that helps us accomplish that something.
The difference between those who accomplish their set goals and those who do not, is not the level of motivation. The primary reason why they are successful in accomplishing their goals, is the strategies they create to stay the course, and overcome all the challenges and roadblocks.
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In the summer of 2012 in New Delhi, the sun behind the smoggy clouds felt piercing through the window of the car straight onto my face causing it to burn. Sitting on the passenger side, I wished the window was tinted but because of the heightened rate of crimes in one of the most populated cities in the world, the law did not permit to have dark tinted windows anymore. Exhausted from just a short trip in the summer heat waiting for the stop light to turn green, I heard a tap on my side of the window. A young boy wearing an over-sized shirt placed a sun shade on my window blocking the sun from falling on my face. I felt the breeze coming from the air condition suddenly cooling me off. My dad pulled the window down from the driver side and I looked at the face of the child who hoped to make a deal. In a stern voice “How much,” my father asked. “Forty rupees for a set of two,” replied the boy. Even the boy knew his offer was high but he knew if a customer is interested, seldom do they walk away without making a counter offer. Sure enough he received a counter offer to sell a set of four for forty rupees. The boy looked away for a few seconds like he was doing the math to calculate where that would put him from his target goal. Very firmly, the boy replied, “If I accept your offer, I will have to give up my meal for two days,” and he walked away from the traffic as the light turned green.
There is an innate desire that every individual has, to do better in anything they do. Even a young boy on the streets of New Delhi who perhaps has no formal education in business or sales is not oblivious of what doing better means to him. Independent of his age there were certain goals, certain expectations that the boy wanted to meet and get a sense of gratification in the deal he makes. It has been over five years and I think of that event numerous times. I realized that an event that could be mundane in the lives of millions of other people was an exemplary stage performance for me to understand the meaning of being better or as I call it “Integrating Excellence.” As long as we are alive, we are constantly striving for excellence by setting and meeting goals in our relationships, our profession and the society. Every individual has a different way of executing their plan to become better. Each day in our personal relationships and our profession we make an effort to become better by setting goals for ourselves and we strive to achieve those goals. After all, life is all about continuous improvement and the creation of excellence.
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