What we can learn about motivation from kids

Myers Barnes big ideas motivationMorgan Marsh-McGlone is 7 years old. While she has spent some of her time during the pandemic doing what other kids do, the Madison, Wisconsin, elementary school student did something more. She created a virtual lemonade stand with the goal of raising $90 to help families who didn’t have enough to eat. So far, Morgan has raised almost $25,000, which will feed 600 families.

At just 11 years old, Garrett Lowry loves baseball. But when he lost both his grandfather and his cat to cancer, he turned some of his energy to doing something more with his time. The Denver boy learned to knit when he was 7 and decided to use his skill to knit hats for kids who had lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy. His goal was to knit 15 hats. So far, he has knitted more than 150 hats and donated them to hospitals in Colorado and California.

What can we learn about motivation from kids like these?

You can achieve—and exceed—amazing goals when you have powerful motivation. When you believe anything is possible and don’t fall under the weight of “what ifs”, you propel your mind into positive thinking, which then launches your action.

The right motivation is the spark. When you have committed to achieve a goal and your eye is laser-focused on the target, you will succeed. Conversely, when all you can see are obstacles, well, that’s all you will EVER see.

“Motivation is a fire from within,” says Stephen R. Covey. “If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.”

Why not?

A child will also ask you “why?” and “why not?” They are curious about the world around them as they learn to navigate it. A child sees opportunity, but their optimism is often washed away by adults who use their life experience and tainted perspective to pour water on the spark. A child sees a tree that’s just begging to be climbed. We tell them, “you might fall.” 

They come to a parent with an idea for a project that excites them, not for school but their own fascination. Do we encourage them to go for it or explain all the reasons it won’t work (“I don’t have time to help you”, “Focus on your schoolwork instead”, or “We don’t have all the supplies for that”). 

A child believes anything is possible, because they haven’t yet learned otherwise. In his book, “Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life”, author Alan Deutschman explains that people are not motivated to change by facts, force, or fear. What motivates people to change is hope.  

A child has hope, desire, belief, and imagination. Their minds are filled with exciting images that inspire them to act.

Covey also said, “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal—a commitment to excellence—that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”

Stop making excuses for missing your marks. Uncover your motivation. Understand the “why” behind what you want to achieve. Fear less. Seek more. 

Think like a child.


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