Motivation, like any resource, needs replenishment. If you manage a pharmacy you likely have some sort of inventory replenishment system. Without this, your stock would disappear and your whole business would come to a grinding halt. We all keep an eye on our gas tank. For me, anything below half a tank means a stop to refill at some point that day. I’ve run out of gas before, back when I was in high school, and the gauge was broken. It isn’t fun. Similarly anyone in any type of leadership role will find they need to replenish their motivation from time to time as well.
Why does motivation decline over time? I think there are many reasons. The pressures of workloads, deadlines, and intense meetings with high stakes can drain our motivation. People management can drain the very life out of you, as your try your best to help your team but sometimes people still disappoint us. A bad boss, an angry customer, a missed promotion, a bad outcome…and a hundred other things can drain the very life out of a leader. You’re beat. Any drop of energy you had has been sucked from your soul and you seriously contemplate throwing in the proverbial towel. We’re human. We get tired. And so, like any other commodity, motivation can be lost.
So what do you do? How do you stay motivated? Because let’s be honest…we all know that an unmotivated leader is an oxymoron. You need to be fully charged! You need to aim high. Keep you chin up! You have to elevate those around you to a higher vision, a noble cause, a greater purpose. People will quickly perceive if the pistons of your passion are no longer firing. And the team will lose heart too.
I’m not talking about some sort of fake, artificial motivation that pretends to be all excited about a job you really hate. That’s crazy. If you don’t like what you do, please, do the world a favor and move on. But the fact is that you can love your work, and have a great mission in life, and still lose motivation and the energy to face the challenges of the day. In fact, the higher your goals, the more motivation you need, and the more important it is to re-fuel regularly in order to get where you need to go.
For whatever it is worth, I’m going to share with you the things I do to stay motivated with the work I have been called to do. This list is far from comprehensive. Nor am I suggesting that this is the magic formula that will work for you. It works for me. And I’m happy to share it with others. So what do I do to stay motivate?
- I read. For me, reading is way to get my juices flowing, get my thoughts stirring, get my heart pumping. My library has over a hundred books on self-development, management and leadership. I appreciate that an author has put significant time into every chapter, every paragraph, every word. And while I may not necessarily agree with, or get great value, from every single page I read…I have never yet found a book that taught me nothing at all. Some of my favorite authors are men like John C. Maxwell, Zig Ziglar, Stephen Covey, Jim Collins, Peter Drucker, and so many of the articles posted on the Harvard Business Review. Reading motivates me.
- I listen. I listen to things like podcasts, TED talks, sermons, and YouTube. I use my commuting time to soak in soul-strengthening content. I like podcasts such as Coaching for Leaders, The Ken Coleman Show, Darren Daily, People Managing People, the Maxwell Leadership Podcast, Truth for Life, and Renewing Your Mind. I love a good TED talk, particularly if the speaker has a good sense of humor. I also listen to audio books, and have been an Audible.com monthly subscriber for more than 15 years. Listening to other share their stories, their ideas, their perspective really motivates me to adopt some of those things that have worked for others for myself.
- I network. I love to talk to others about pharmacy, management, business, and just about anything related to healthcare and health systems. I love LinkedIn for that reason. I frequently reach out to peers and check in to see how they are doing in their jobs. I love to coach younger pharmacists with a passion for healthcare management and leadership. Offering feedback to those who are new to the profession, as well as seeking advice from those who have done it longer than me, help motivate me to keep going and keep growing. Other people motivate me. I work right now with some incredibly motivating people.
- I teach. I try to deliberately budget time to help those who want to be taught or mentored in areas of leadership or management. That motivates me. I teach an APPE elective rotation in Pharmacy Leadership and Management for students in their final year of school. I open myself up to coach and mentor those who ask for my help, and rarely turn away someone who sincerely wants to talk about themes like career development, people management strategies, and how to run their pharmacy business more successfully. Teaching stirs up my soul, and makes me think through things more thoroughly than I might otherwise do. I also teach regularly at my church, and that pushes me to be faithful and humble and grateful.
- I rest. I really do. While I have been blessed with a constitution that doesn’t require tons of sleep, I do take time to step away from work and enjoy doing things with my wife, my family and my friends. I enjoy trying new restaurants. I love small craft breweries to just sit, sip a beer, and chill out. I have a kayak and like to just paddle around for a couple hours on a big lake when the weather is right. I take Sundays off, almost always. I think there is something very wise in the 4th commandment of the Bible which says “6 days shalt thou labor.” Six days is enough. Take a break. Rest. Worship. Fellowship with others. Recharge your batteries. It is a valuable rhythm that has served me well, and I highly recommend it to others. My wife and I really enjoy restful vacations too. We typically schedule very little for our vacation time. We just agree to lay low, refresh ourselves, take walks together, read for pleasure, and recharge our batteries. That motivates me.
So that is what I do to stay motivated. I won’t pretend it is always easy. I need as much help in this category as anyone else. But these are the things that work for me, and maybe some of them will be helpful to you.