There’s No Higher Form of Motivation

Addicted to Praise

I used to say I was part Cocker Spaniel.  My Love and Confidant of 14 years and I had this in common: we both LOVED receiving kudos.  We spoke the language of praise.  All it took was a whisper of, “Who’s a good boy?”  or a simple pat on the head and Bailey would wiggle until you thought his little, stub-tail was going to pop right off, spiraling up, up, and away.  And I suspect, if I had a little, stub-tail, you could witness a similar up, up, and away action with me at the slightest hint of praise.

Who doesn’t like an at-a-boy?  For some, there’s no higher form of motivation.  Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, lists Words of Affirmation as one of the five preferences for what we find satisfying or motivating when it comes to expressing and receiving love.

What if you are like me?  Or like Bailey?  What if you, too, seek gestures or words of affirmation as your motivation… but the words never come?  What then?

In Search of Natural Motivation

I needed to find an example of a natural motivator, more to prove that such a thing existed than anything else.  Something that would show me it was possible to untangle myself from this need to receive a pat on the back, or at least, desire it less.  And who came to mind?  Bailey did.

If Bailey was my Love, tennis balls were his.  He was a PRO at snagging a tennis ball.  He was the dog you see in movies that could jump in the air, all four legs catching some major air, contort his body into the letter C, effortlessly nab the lime green ball, continue to glide smoothly in mid-air another foot or more, then land with a sharp twist, so as to position his body 180 degrees in the opposite direction — facing you, back legs already in motion to tear back, kicking up dust, then gingerly drop the ball squarely between your feet.  He’d back up two steps, eyes never leaving the ball, ready for another go.  And another.  And another.

And if you didn’t feel like throwing the ball for Bailey, it didn’t bother him.  He would stand, and eventually after around an hour sit, and stare at it.

The grace.  The determination.  The sheer nuttiness.  He had it all!  He could not be shaken.

There was the rare occasion however, that even the great tennis ball pro would miss his mark, mostly due to a lame throw on my part, but nevertheless, he would miss.

This is what I observed.  He didn’t beat himself up.  He didn’t look embarrassed.  He mostly shook his long, curly, floppy ears and was ready for more, a clear embodiment of the expression, “Shake it off.”  He had nothing to prove.  He loved the chase, the jump, the thrill of all of it.  It was the experience that made his heart sing, it didn’t matter whether he hit the mark or not.

And he wasn’t even receiving any praise.  The act alone was motivation enough.

What Is Your Tennis Ball?

What do you love doing so much that you will soar through the air, contort your body to catch, and land with a firm HELL YEAH on the ground, fist pumping, ready for more?  The thing you do regardless of the kudos you receive… not caring if you ever receive kudos for it?  You do it for the sheer love of the experience, because for reasons no one needs to dissect, this thing belongs to you.  That is your tennis ball.

Icing On the Cake:  Criticism

This entire post has been focused on praise, motivation, seizing your passion.  We’ve established that it’s not uncommon to like an at-a-boy, paying attention to the motivation behind it.  We’ve looked at a natural motivator, in an attempt to identify our own passion.  So why introduce criticism?  And what kind of cake could I possibly serve that you’d welcome an icing made of criticism?

Here’s the icing:  Find your tennis ball, DO THAT THING THAT ONLY YOU CAN DO, and no amount of criticism will ever faze you.  It won’t even register in your awareness.

Do you honestly think if I told Bailey he was ‘Bad’ after he had missed a ball, that he would’ve walked away with his tail tucked between his legs?  No!  He would have continued staring at the ball he had just placed between my feet, waiting for another go.  Completely unshaken.  Any gesture of ‘Bad’ offered from me would have fallen on deaf ears.

BUT, if I told him he was ‘Bad’ after being caught on my bed, where he wasn’t allowed, or after rummaging through the trash, he would definitely have walked away, tail-tucked.  He had no passion around those things — he simply did them because.  The bed and the trash probably smelled good to him (two TOTALLY different smells I must point out, both quite appealing to a dog!).  But the tennis ball was his thing.  It was what he lived for.  He was a pro at it.  And you can’t criticize a pro.  It simply doesn’t faze them.

So What?

So, what does all of this tell me?  The next time I feel my little stub-tail starting to wag, I’ll smile sweetly, acknowledging the praise, and smile deeply, in appreciation of the person offering the kind gesture, but I’ll know that it’s just my ego wanting to dance.  I will continue to offer words of hope, of love, and of Trust, because it makes my heart soar.  I will continue to explore these topics, sharing as best as I can, for the sheer love of the experience.

And then some days, I’ll mess up.  My ego will dance around wildly.  Or be bruised severely.  And I’ll remind myself of my tennis ball and start anew.



Two Cockers… which one is Bailey?



THREE Cockers… which one is Bailey?


What’s trapped on the other side of the door?


No, Bailey is not the star getting the 3-D glasses put on him. See the nut over on the far right, staring at something?? Follow his gaze….



Pure love.


Miss you, Buddy. You taught me a lot. (Hidden as it may be, we still see it….)

Won’t you leave a comment below and share your tennis ball(s)?

Bet You Never Considered THIS Exercise Routine


A knife.

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.

c word

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.”

c word

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?

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Perspective is Everything, Even if You’re a Frog

A group of frogs set off on a long hike, traveling through the woods.  Two of them fell into a deep pit.  When the other frogs saw how deep the pit was, they told the two frogs that they were as good as dead.  The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up, out of the pit, with all their might.

The other frogs kept shouting at them to stop, repeating that they were as good as dead.  Finally, one of the frogs lost heart and gave into fear.  He believed what the other frogs were saying and gave up.

He fell down and died.

The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could.  Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die.  He jumped even harder and finally made it out!

When he got out, the other frogs said, “Did you not hear us?”

The frog explained to them that he was deaf.  He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

Lessons For the Giver of Words:

  • There is power of life and death in the tongue.  An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day.
  • A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill them.

Lessons For the Receiver of Words:

  • Be careful what you choose to believe.
  • Be mindful of who you choose to follow.
  • Whether you hear as well as Superman or as poorly as Beethoven, take heed to what serves you and your purpose.  Hear that.  Tune out all the rest.

Be careful of what you say.  Speak Life to those who cross your path.  The power of words… it is sometimes hard to understand that an encouraging word can go such a long way.

Anyone can speak words that rob another of the spirit to continue in difficult times.  Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another.

I hope you enjoyed today’s Friday-Short.  Fables are such great teaching tools.  I find their simplicity to be brilliant.  I love to read them, to contemplate them, and to share them.  Please consider sharing this fable with friends (just as a friend shared it with me — thank you, Susan).


Measures of Success (Me. Icing on the Cake. Orgasm.)

We’re all sexual beings, so get over the sub-title.  Stick with me for a bit…it will all come together, in a very PG sort of way.

When I first became serious about sharing a message around Trust Life Today, what that means to me, what I’d like to accomplish with it, etc., I had to stop and ask myself some very important questions.  I wanted to make sure my motives were “right” and I wasn’t operating from an egoistic standpoint.  I walked through several exercises to come out on the other end, happy with the outcome.**

Once I was clear on my motivation, then I switched gears and began to think about how I would measure success.  I’m hard wired to be results driven, so this made perfect sense to me.  And thus, my formula of “Me,  Icing on the Cake, and Orgasm” was born.  (If you’re turned off by the word orgasm, I mean no offense…please replace it with Home Run, Touchdown, or whatever word is more palatable.)

First Measure of Success: Me.

For each article I write for Trust Life Today, at its conclusion, I must feel personally satisfied, that I’ve given you my best.  I must know that I have shared a piece of me that I feel you will benefit from or grow.  It is my intent that this looks/feels like sharing love or insights that:

  • inspire
  • provide comfort
  • aid in personal growth
  • help us to live more authentically
  • broaden perspectives
  • or in this case, and in the case of the article on Surrender, allow me to be vulnerable and practice humility

A basic, but meaningful connection must be made on some level.  If, at the end of writing an article, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished one or a combination of these things, then I have not met my first Measure of Success.  I will either revise until I hit it, or I will delete.  Bottom line, if I don’t hit this mark, there’s no point in moving on to the next level; it dies here.

Second Measure of Success: Icing on the Cake.

Each time I receive confirmation from at least one person that I did, in fact, hit the mark above, the second Measure of Success is fulfilled.  Many of you have done this by sending me emails, contributing comments, or posting directly on Facebook.  How you choose to do it is irrelevant.  What I want you to know, is how deeply grateful I am with each word of encouragement and support.  This is a very sweet spot.  Thank you.

Third Measure of SuccessOrgasm.

This one is truly special.  This Measure of Success is hit when I receive the overwhelming email, especially when it’s from someone unexpected.  Let’s say I make the assumption that Person A would no more enjoy reading my blog than sit for hours working on their income tax.  Then, ‘out of the blue,’ I receive an email saying what a difference a specific article made in their life.  THAT, my friends, is the orgasm.  I didn’t expect it (remember, I didn’t even think they would be reading my blog).  But man, when I get an email like that, I can guarantee you that it brings tears to my eyes each and every time.  My heart is filled with joy and my cup runneth over like nothing I can put into words, hence my word choice.

The point of this article is to provide an example illustrating that Measures of Success come in all shapes and sizes.  I don’t believe there is one right way to measure success.  I do believe your happiness needs to appear at the core of your measurement of success, and with my three levels, my happiness escalates.  As my happiness escalates, I want to write and share more and more with you, spreading words that in some way, will expand the web of positivity.  And thus the cycle goes.  And thus the positivity grows.

So I encourage you, do what makes you happy!  Put some measures in place — to keep you true to your goals and on track, if nothing else.  

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” -Johann Wolfgang

**If you’re interested in the method I used, send me a message, I’ll be happy to share.