A tool to maliciously cut someone in an act of violence and end their life. Or… a tool to cut out a malignant tumor and save someone’s life.
The same tool, the same act of cutting, but yielding drastically different results, beginning with drastically different motives.
A Story of Motivation(s)
Here’s a similar story, minus knives and blood, that left a lasting impression on me regarding motives. It goes like this:
For weeks on end, the villagers who lived at the base of a mountain heard strange noises coming from the other side. Everyone speculated what these unfamiliar noises might be. No one could agree and there were some who were growing more and more uneasy by the day.
A meeting of the elders was called to determine what to do. After much debate, the head elder volunteered his son to hike to the other side of the mountain and investigate the cause of the disturbing noises.
After a full day of hiking, the young man reached the top of the mountain and was able to see down into the valley below. From his perch, he could see men and women busy working on something. But what?
So he drew closer. As he came upon a group of workers, he noticed that each had a huge rock in front of them. He approached the first laborer and said, “Excuse me. May I ask what you are doing?”
“What?” grunted the man. “I’m just chiseling this rock, wasting time ‘til I’m allowed to go home.”
Puzzled, the young man continued on to the next person he saw, a woman. Again, he asked, “Hello there. What are you doing?”
“Working,” she responded. “I must work to earn a living for my family.”
Scratching his head, he continued to the next laborer. Again, he asked, “What are you doing?”
“Creating art. See this magnificent rock? It will soon be a beautiful statue.”
Turning to the next person, the young man continued to repeat his question.
“What am I doing? Well, can’t you see?” asked the broad shouldered man. “I’m building a cathedral.”
“Oh! I think I’m starting to understand!” exclaimed the young man. He continued on, asking a woman next, “What are you doing?”
“I’m building a cathedral to help the people of this town, which will in turn, help the future generations to come,” she replied.
“How wonderful,” said the young man. “And you, sir?” he called to the man standing next to her.
“I am helping to build this cathedral in order to serve all those who will use it — and to awaken myself in the process. I am seeking my salvation through service to others.”
Satisfied he had discovered the source of the noise, and through his queries, had learned a lot about human nature, he turned to go home. But he was quickly interrupted by the sight of one final laborer. A few yards away an old man was twirling and dancing as he worked. He had crescent-shaped eyes, the kind that smile all on their own.
“And what are you doing?” asked the young man, for a final time. “Me?” The old man’s smile broadened. “Do-oo-ing?” He could barely get the word out, he was overtaken with laughter. “This ego dissolved into God a long time ago. Simply put, there is no “I” left to “do” anything. God works through this body to guide and awaken all people and draw them to Him.”
What is Your Motivation?
Each person working on a stone. Each with a different motivation. And what of each person’s result? What did they gain — in terms of giving, receiving, self-esteem, spiritual growth?
How you approach a situation, how you ‘work your motive,’ is no different than how you work your muscles. With repeated use, your go-to motive will become stronger.
What is your go-to motive? Are you motivated by fear? By a desire to impress? To create? To build? To conquer? To give to others? To be loved? To feel safe? To, to, to….? The more often you choose a particular motive, the stronger it becomes.
What motive-muscle will you choose to exercise today?