Motivation through Responsibility

Our Memorial Table
Our Memorial Table

  A couple of days ago, I posted some information about time management.  But today I’d like to talk about another factor in increasing personal productivity: motivation.  

  Last week, I married the love of my life (yes, it really is the best day of my life).  But before that, Kimi and I had a Chinese wedding tea ceremony.  At the tea ceremony, Kimi and I paid our respects to our elders and acknowledged the formal introduction of Kimi to our family.  My father’s older brother presented me with a gold ring that was passed down from my grandfather.  

  It’s a huge responsibility, and also an amazing motivator.

  I don’t know much about my grandfather, or my family history before his generation.  There are stories of the Japanese invasion, of a great-grandfather who ran a textile mill, of my grandfather’s attempted escape from China, and his subsequent imprisonment.  I never met my grandfather – he got sick in prison and never recovered.  My uncle was the eldest son, so he inherited the family ring after my grandfather passed.  And now the ring has been passed on to me.  The ring symbolizes the responsibility I have to the family, to all the previous generations and ancestors who held it before me.  Generations of ancestors who persevered through war, famine, drought, and revolutions are now depending on me to carry on.  

  To have so many people depend on you is kind of…freeing.  It’s like being in the military again – you are in service of something greater than yourself.  You are given a purpose, a reason for being.  Most importantly, you are given the highest expectations of performance.  Quitting isn’t an option.  To me, it feels like a hundred years of struggle, sacrifice, and hard work might finally pay off – but it’s all on me to carry on the legacy.  I missed this kind of pressure, I thrive under it.  

  So how can you tap into this source of motivation?  That depends on you.  If you have nowhere to start, here’s some thoughts on how to start looking:  

  • Start with service.  You could try volunteering to help a great social cause (poverty, civil rights, diversity, hunger) or attend a town hall meeting on a particular civil matter that could influence the lives of you and your neighbors.  Check Idealist.org for volunteer opportunities, or if you’re at Foster go do more C4C events.  
  • Join a team.  You could find a team sport that you really enjoy, and find that responsibility to your teammates.  By holding each other accountable and feeling that responsibility to your team, you might find that burning drive to succeed and improve.  I think the Foster team needs more for flag football!
  • Teach.  Try tutoring, or volunteering to teach a skill to disadvantaged youth.  Be a Big Brother or Sister.  When you take on a position like that, you’re living in a fishbowl.  The people you teach and mentor will look up to you and scrutinize what you do…same goes for when you are a supervisor/boss.  This might help you hold yourself to a higher standard, and strive to be your best self while you teach.  

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