Secret Weapons: Inside One Young Professional’s Arsenal Of Motivation


Motivation comes in many forms. What is it deep within our biology and chemistry that propels us to become so focused and driven? The body is a vessel, the mind at the controls, and influences are everywhere. Those who need a little push from time-to-time use visual cues in convenient and sometimes unexpected places in order to keep things moving. One of those places for yours truly is at the back of an eye-level office shelf, comprised of yellow post-it notes that have traveled with me since the beginning of my young professional career. Each serves a particular purpose and originates from a different place on the map, but one thing remains constant: the direction is forward. Here’s what they have to say.

“Stay positive and love your life.” – 311

For those who listen to the band, this quote is no surprise. One of my first CDs was 311’s self-titled blue album back in 1997 and their music has been a part of my life ever since. The messages of positivity and unity are present through each tour and studio release, year after year. Stay positive and love your life is not just a mantra, but a reminder of where this journey essentially began. It’s a simple boost during those occasional down times.

“Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?” – Pink Floyd

It was 2008, my senior year of college at the University of Delaware. On the final night of summer before class began, I sat reminiscing with two friends. That transition was hitting us for the last time, like seeing first light at the end of a long tunnel. Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” came on and this particular lyric, speaking of their lost band-mate Syd Barrett, reminds me of how difficult but necessary sacrifice can be. I’d heard the song dozens of times before, but at this moment it knocked me into attention and still serves as a subtle reminder that risk is an essential part of a successful story.

“Hard work. Dedication”. – Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

I can’t pinpoint when the admiration for Floyd Mayweather began. It was probably about 10 wins ago when fights with De La Hoya and Hatton loomed on the horizon. What I take away from his lavish lifestyle and boisterous attitude is an unwavering ability to stick with what proves successful and always persevere. The hard work and dedication to his craft has paid off big time. If I’m ever feeling lazy or uninspired, these three words usually flip that feeling on its head.

“The patterns of your life today are the person you will become.”
“Progress comes from the intelligent use of experience.”

These quotes came at a time when my discipline had taken a hit and bad habits were building quickly. Financial, social, romantic, dietary, emotional – you name it; I needed a wake-up call and these were it. The simplicity and straightforwardness is what really caught my eye. I said to myself, “Hey man, you can keep doing all of these things and hope for the best or start taking some real action, making something, building something.” It’s important to remember daily that bad habits snowball, often without notice. It’s the productive ones that keep us afloat and move us forward.

“Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but, great minds rise above it.” – Washington Irving

The struggle is real. We’ve all been there, somewhere, in the midst of chaos with no pause button in sight. It’s easy to call life unfair when things don’t go as planned or tragedy befalls you, but what are you going to do about it? Everything still happens for a reason and hard times are designed to make us stronger. That strength starts upstairs. Don’t be tamed, don’t be subdued, and rise above. While difficult to reach, it’s much clearer up there.

Stop complaining and do your job well.

Life within any professional arena is difficult at times. There are too many personalities present for this not to be the case. The urge to complain and vent frustrations appears often and leaves us with a choice: do we take the high road with a smile or succumb to the temptation? While it may be extremely difficult, the smart approach is to remain calm and focus on the work at hand. I’ve needed this reminder more often than I care to admit.

“To make work meaningful, you need to align it with your true nature. Work is holy, sacred and uplifting when it springs from who we are, when it bears a relationship to our unfolding journey.” – Charles Smith

We hired Charlie straight out of college to learn our trade and mold him into a part of the team. Monday morning meetings are held every few weeks to look at the work ahead. E-mails recapping important points fly soon after its conclusion, and I thank Charlie for including this quote with one that once reached my inbox. Simply put, it speaks wonders. I never asked him where it came from because in my eyes, it came from him. We bestowed our knowledge onto his freshly graduated brain, and his returning the favor did not go unnoticed. Thank you, Charlie.

“Your dreams should be so big that they’re uncomfortable to discuss with small-minded people.”

We read thousands of motivational and inspirational quotes each year. Coming across one like this has the ability to accelerate an entire process. This is not a dig at any “small-minded” individuals, but rather an acknowledgement as to what might make those with lofty goals uncomfortable. Aspirations should see no limit. The disbelievers are telling you exactly what you need to hear. Keep going.

What has the power to motivate you? The daily, weekly, monthly, yearly grind is just that, a grind. Tangible reminders of where we want to be and how we want to act have the ability to make a real impact. The more you see them, the more you take ownership for what they represent.