“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” – Mark Twain

Self-motivation is an essential life-skill. Without it, it is impossible to accomplish anything. In the context of intelligent leadership, self-motivation stems from genuine interest and passion. It is the fuel that ignites most other leadership skills, lending the leader the urge to continuously improve, evolve, and embrace change.

How do you know if you are self-motivated? 

As I have pointed out in my leadership development books, motivation is an essential ingredient of commitment, or the passion and drive to execute. I have called this commitment the “will-do” component of a trinity that includes capability and alignment, thus defining the essence of stealth leadership.

Self-motivation is a tricky life skill to master. Deadlines, various work-related expectations, schedules, and emotional support all help us motivate ourselves. As many have found out during their pandemic-related, work-from-home stints, when these basic drivers of self-motivation are missing, we can quickly find ourselves in a less-than-ideal spot in this regard.

The problem is that success is often a solo journey. This is especially true for leaders, whose situations the saying “lonely at the top” often describes to perfection. Self-motivation is, therefore, an indispensable prerequisite for success at this level.

How do you know if you are self-motivated? 

If you have a genuine passion for something, you will find it easier to motivate yourself to go through various chores related to your passion. Mastery of something, be that a hobby or an enterprise that may earn you a living, allows you to get lost in your passion.

You are self-motivated when you love your life’s work. When you feel excited about something, you give yourself a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

When your self-motivation ebbs, your position as an effective leader weakens. The process of deterioration is a gradual one. You may not feel its adverse effects right away, but never underestimate its power to sideline you and turn you into a burnt-out shell of your former, motivated self.

How can you improve your self-motivation? 

Leadership development professionals understand self-motivation and what makes it tick. They know how it impacts various leadership skills and how leaders can boost it. A good leadership development program always grants special attention to self-motivation and discipline.

  • Keep good company. The moods and attitudes of the people with whom you associate are contagious. If you surround yourself with motivated, eager, optimistic people, you will find these attitudes rubbing off on you.

Moods and attitudes are contagious. 

  • Maintain focus. Define your goals clearly and visualize them in detail. Then draw up a plan that leads to those goals and visualize it in detail as well.
  • Strive for accountability. Set smaller, achievable targets that are tied to concrete deadlines. Stick to your deadlines and the available resources.
  • Be a person of good habits. Establish a series of positive routines, such as eating well, waking up at a set time each morning, reading motivational books, etc. Stick to these habits religiously.
  • Take time off and relax. When you are passionate about something, working on the object of your passion is hardly a chore. That said, you still need to get your mind off of work now and then, to make sure you do not grow sick of it and end up burnt out.
  • Focus on your physical fitness. Physical and mental fitness are interconnected in many obvious and subtle ways. By taking care of your physical health, you will boost your mental abilities and strength as well.

The self-motivated intelligent leader manages stress better, enjoys better personal productivity, is more confident, and secures more career advancement opportunities.

If you want to be such a leader, or if you want to learn more about your leadership skills in general, I invite you to check out my leadership coaching services.


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