August 18

Pep Talk vs. Prep Talk

In one of my all-time favoriteSaturday Night Livesketches, Chris Farley plays the role of motivational speaker Matt Foley. Some well-meaning parents have brought him into their home to motivate their children to take school more seriously, and Farley spends his time with the children yelling at them, trying to amp them up, and warning them that if they don’t get serious, they’ll end up living in “a van down by the river” like him.

I’ve spent a lot of time speaking to organizations, and I have to con- fess that at times, I empathize with the Matt Foley character. Managers will often tell me that they are bringing me in to “motivate” their team members, but I always warn them ahead of time that that’s not what I do.

Instead of a pep talk, most professionals actually need a prep talk. They need to be prepared tobringmotivation to their work instead of waiting for the work to motivate them. Once they understand the subtle forces that drive their best, most engaged moments, they understand that it’s not the tasks they do that motivate them or even some pithy slogan but how their unique motivation interacts with those tasks that is critical.

As you consider moments of peak engagement from your past, what is the common thread? Why were those moments so motivating and gratifying? And how can you craft more of those kinds of moments in your work today?

Stop waiting for your work to motivate you. Bring motivation to your work.


What are the common themes within your moments of deep engagement in life and work? is it that you felt challenged? Worked with others? Taught something? How can you craft more of those moments today?

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