There are primarily two motivating factors in our lives and they are pain and pleasure. I know this may sound a bit risque but it’s true. We will always gravitate to either pain or pleasure depending on the circumstances.
I know you are asking yourself, “where is he going with this??”. Pain and pleasure are the most motivating factors in a persons life. We are motivated by each of them every day. It’s important to understand that both can be shrouded or disguised in a myriad of ways but the bottom line is that pain and pleasure pervade in our lives numerous times each day.
Webster defines motivation as:
“The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.“
I am certain that I don’t have to define pain or pleasure but it’s not what you’re thinking. Being motivated by pleasure is a pretty easy concept to grasp. We are motivated to go to an amusement park because we know it will be a great time. We are motivated to be with our children because of the essence of time and often enjoy the goofiness that a child offers and inspires. We are motivated to pack for the trip you have coming up because we are excited for the new experiences that are soon to come. Pleasure is an excellent motivator and often prevails over pain. Innately, we gravitate towards pleasure as a first instinct and fall back on pain only if absolutely necessary.
With that said, pain is a very strong motivator and is the result of spending too much focus on pleasure. An example of the imbalance of pain and pleasure would be, snoozing the alarm clock until you realize that you have a meeting in 30 minutes and you will undoubtedly be late, now that pain of being late becomes the chief motivator and far outweighs the pleasure of lying in a warm comfortable bed. Another example for the golfers out there, it’s too painful to write that executive summary or blog post because it’s more pleasurable to be on the golf course. Now you are on the 18th hole and you realize that that report is due in the morning, you must now race back to the office and begin typing like a crazy person – motivated by the pain of not getting your project completed in time and suffering the consequences.
Although pleasure is magnetic and powerful it is somewhat ephemeral if not balanced with the thought of the pain. Notice I typed “the thought of pain” and not the actual pain. In a combat situation there is a phrase and it’s Left of Bang. If we consider that there is a time line in front of you and at the center of the timeline we have a large red circle. Let’s call that circle “Bang”, anything to the right of bang is very bad and not a place we want to be. It means that we are now in crisis mode, the threat and danger is now. You are now in a situation where you are implementing damage control and trying to create order from chaos. You can no longer be proactive, you can only be reactive. Let’s face it, nobody wants to be right of bang. Right of bang is pain.
The alternative to being right of bang is obviously left of bang. This is where we all want to live and operate. It is a far more peaceful, manageable place to be that allows for far more fluidity. There is a very important tactic that you must possess while left of bang, you must be aware and watchful. The closer you get to bang the more you must be aware that the balance is off as you can very quickly enter into that unpredictable and chaotic stage of right of bang. When you see that big red circle coming your way, pump the brakes a bit and refocus your attention on those things that will keep you on the left side of that circle.
Have you ever played that game Labyrinth? It is a square box with a maze in the middle and you can control the equilibrium gently moving a small ball towards your desired destination. Well pain and pleasure, left and right of bang, and Labyrinth all follow a similar strategy. Labyrinth is not that difficult and can really be completed by anyone. All they need to do is go slow, pay attention and be watchful of what’s ahead of you.
Being motivated by pain is not where you want to find yourself on a regular basis and that’s why being mindful of what’s ahead of you is important. We can create a balance between pain and pleasure and it’s that balance that creates efficiency and high productivity!
Be sure to be alert and watchful, make sure you are looking for the holes in your maze and take the necessary time to navigate each day being mindful of the pinnacle between pain and pleasure. Thats the big red circle I call bang. Each day we consume ourselves with countless tasks and projects quickly finding ourselves in the big red circle. Watch, listen and slow down. Your days will be much more productive.