Group of hikers displaying productive leadership

Productive Leadership

Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

You may be asking, “What does finding your why have to do with being a productive leader?” Absolutely everything! When you don’t know your purpose, you live most of your life from a place of extrinsic motivation. This means that you are mostly motivated by things like money, the weather, peer recognition, the economy, the car you drive, your customer or driver not doing what they said they would do, your plans for the weekend, the phones not working and even what your family and friends say about you. While I even have to admit that I look forward to payday and my plans for the weekend, these things are not what ultimately control my mood and my productivity.

Whenever we allow things outside of us to dictate our value and mood, we then become susceptible to the effect of what happens when those things change. Just like Chicago’s weather, they change all the time and so does how we feel in the moment, for the day and sometimes for a lifetime. I’ve heard stories about people not talking to their own family members for months and even years just because of something stupid that was said. Guess what, this not only affects your personal life but it also affects your professional productivity. Have you ever had a driver or customer not do what they said they would do or get no after no from potential customers and that totally mess with your head and put you in a “bad” mood? Of course, you have and so have I.

On the opposite end of extrinsic motivation is intrinsic motivation. That said, let me be clear about extrinsic motivation. It’s not bad. In fact, much of what we do and our productivity is extrinsically motivated and we are all the better for it. Without intrinsic motivation, we can’t really know true joy and fulfillment in life. The net result is that when we are Intrinsically Motivated we live a more productive life.

Intrinsic motivation comes from within, while extrinsic motivation arises from outside. When you’re intrinsically motivated, you engage in an activity solely because you enjoy it and get personal satisfaction from it.

Some examples of intrinsic motivation are:

  • Participating in a sport because it’s fun and you enjoy it rather than doing it to win an award
  • Spending time with someone because you enjoy their company and not because they can further your social standing
  • Exercising because you enjoy physically challenging your body instead of doing it to lose weight or fit into an outfit
  • Volunteering because you feel content and fulfilled rather than needing it to meet a school or work requirement
  • Taking on more responsibility at work because you enjoy being challenged and feeling accomplished, rather than to get a raise or promotion

While we may already do these things, knowing our why will inspire us to contribute more and best of all amplify our overall experience of life. When you know your purpose, you are pulled in the direction of your best self and everyone around you will benefit from it.

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