by Henrylito D. Tacio
My first job was working for a non-governmental organization in southern Philippines. One favorite statement my former boss usually quoted – actually an old Chinese proverb – was this: “If your vision is good for a year, then plant wheat. If your vision is good for ten years, plant trees. But if your vision is good for a lifetime, plant people.”
If you have this kind of vision (just remember that people without vision, the Holy Bible
told us, perish!) then you better motivate someone to help you accomplish your goal(s). “Motivation is what gets you started,” explained Jim Ryun.
Whether you are a teacher, a manager, a director, or a coach, keep on motivating the person you have chosen. Sydney Harris reminds, “The motive for a deed is never the same before, during, and after its performance; for the very act itself changes the motive, unearthing deeper aspects we were unaware of.”
More often than not, people confused motivation with manipulation. In his book, Something to Smile About, Zig Ziglar gives us a thought-provoking comparison: “Motivation occurs when you persuade others to take an action in their own best interests. Things such as people
preparing their homework, accepting responsibility for their performance, and finishing their education are the results of motivation.”
On the other hand, “manipulation is persuading others to take an action that is primarily for your benefit,” Ziglar explains. “Things such as selling an inferior product at an inflated price and working people overtime with no extra pay are examples of manipulation.”
Leaders – in any of the following: government, business, schools, and church – are urged to motivate rather than manipulate their subordinates. Ziglar comments: “The value you place on people determines whether you are a motivator or a manipulator of people. Motivation is moving together for mutual advantage. Manipulation is persuading or even subtly coercing people to do something so that you win and they lose. With the motivator, everybody wins; with the manipulator, only the manipulator wins.”
II Corinthians chapter 10, verse 8 reminds: “The authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down.”
John D. Rockefeller is known for his amazing business success, but he had a greater reputation among those who knew him as being a man who motivated his people. He had a sincere appreciation for others and was willing to accept failure if an honest attempt had been made at success.
When one of his partners, Edward T. Bedford, failed in a business venture, which cost Rockefeller’s company a million dollars, Rockefeller responded with a statement that has become classic in business lore. He didn’t criticize Bedford because he knew he had done his best. He did, however, call Bedford to his office.
“I think it is honorable that you were able to salvage 60 percent of the money you invested in the South American venture,” Rockefeller told Bedford. “That’s not bad; in fact, it’s splendid. We don’t always do as well as that upstairs.”
That’s what higher officials should see. Looking at the brighter side – instead of pointing out the mistakes. Someone once said, “We must never overlook the untold benefits that can be derived from mistakes. A person should never hesitate to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday, because of his mistake.”
American inspirational speaker Norman Vincent Peale adds, “No matter what mistakes you may have made – no matter how you’ve messed things up – you still can make a new beginning. The person who fully realizes this suffers less from the shock and pain of failure and sooner gets off to a new beginning.”
These days, most teenagers, including my nephews and nieces, are looking for heroes, which they call as idols. This must be the reason why some of them dress and talk the way like their idols, mostly movie stars. But leaders can do that, too – as mentors.
In Standing Together, written by Howard Hendricks with Chip MacGregor, this story has been featured:
“In 1919, a man recovering from injuries suffered in the Great War in Europe rented a small apartment in Chicago. He chose the location for its proximity to the home of Sherwood Anderson, the famous author. Anderson had penned the widely praised novel ‘Winesburg, Ohio,’ and was known for his willing to help young writers.
“The two men became fast friends and spent nearly every day together for two years. They shared meals, took long walks, and discussed crafts of writing late into the night. The younger man often brought samples of his work to Anderson, and the veteran author responded by giving brutally honest critiques.
“Yet, the young man was never deterred. Each time, he would listen, take careful notes, and then return to his typewriter to improve his material. He didn’t try to defend himself, for, as he put it later, ‘I didn’t know how to write until I met Sherwood Anderson.’”
Do you know who the young man was? Well, it’s none other than Ernest Hemingway, whose first novel, published in 1926, was The Sun Also Rises, which gained critical acclaim.
The story didn’t end there. “After Hemingway left Chicago, Anderson moved to New Orleans. There he met another young wordsmith, a poet with an insatiable drive to improve his skills. Anderson put him through the same paces he had put Hemingway – writing, critiquing, discussing, encouraging – and always more writing.
“A year later, Anderson helped this young man publish his first novel, Soldier Pay. Three years later, this bright new talent, William Faulkner, produced The Sound and the Fury, and it quickly became an American masterpiece.”
Here’s more. “In California, Anderson spent several years working with playwright Thomas Wolfe and a young man named John Steinbeck, among others. All told, three of Anderson’s protégés earned Nobel Prize and four Pulitzer Prizes for literature.”
As a result of this, famous literary critic Malcolm Cowley called Anderson as “the only writer of his generation to leave his mark on the style and vision of the next generation.”
But why do you think Anderson generously gave his time and expertise to help budding writers? “One reason might be that he himself had sat under the influence of an older writer, the great Theodore Dreiser (the man behind An American Tragedy). He also spent considerable time with Carl Sandburg (an American poet and biographer).”
The bottom line is: Have you motivated someone lately? Or better still, have you been a mentor to a newcomer? — ###