What Motivates me to be a Leader and other Thoughts....

I have a few different thoughts on the first question; about what motivates me to be a leader. A few weeks ago, my easy answer would have been that nothing motivates me to be a leader and that I do not want to be one (leader). One thing I have learned is that whether I want to be a leader or not I am a leader. I am a mom... for a little while I will still be a wife... and I have a life and a spark and an energy that should be used and not squandered in confusion, misunderstanding and self pity. So what motivates me to be a leader...? Well, if I am going to be a leader (understanding that I will be a leader whether I 'want' to or not') I want to be the best leader that I can. I want to make change and help others and bring financial security to myself. I want to set up my life in a way that I am utilizing the little time I have on this planet to the best of my abilities at the time... and hope that as I try, my abilities will become honed and more able to tackle the difficulties that I will face in my future. There is a line in book six of the 'Harry Potter' series where Harry and Dumbledore are discussing the prophecy that has caused Lord Voldemort to chase Harry his whole life. In that paragraph, Dumbledore discusses the idea that Harry does have choices and he is not bound to follow the prophecy. At that time, Harry realizes that he has made a choice... and even though that choice was difficult and had large consequences attached to it, he smiles because while the situation hasn't changed... how Harry looks at it has. And as the character states : 'that makes all the difference in the world.' I feel in some ways that I am in a parallel situation... minus the mortal danger from Voldemort, that is. :) I can see myself as being forced into choices by other people... or I can see that they are making their choices and while those choices do affect me and my life, I can see how to make my own decisions. I can look at the situation less personally, more critically and see the blessings and positives that shine out of the gently woven tapestry of my life that seem s currently dark, drab, and limited. Even changing my mindset to look for the changes is a metaphoric golden thread that can help bring light and opportunities into my life.

I have several sources of motivation that I have been able to discover in my life. I think that a few might be more prescient right now and might even be motivations that everyone has because they are more instinct than motivation. I will have to let you be the judge. One thing that motivates me is my severe sensory issues. I do not always understand why I do some of the things that I do and why I do or do not like some things. Over the last few years as I have discovered that I do have sensory problems that that some of the things I do are considered truly 'normal' for someone with my condition who hasn't been treated, I have discovered that my body and mind instinctively react in ways that are not truly necessary or positive. However, rationally understanding this fact doesn't change the way my body/ mind react to a sensory assault. Some things such as smells I have worked really hard and have made progress on getting past the difficulties that they can give me. Some things such as water and noise, I have made little to no progress on and will probably need professional help to overcome. Along with the sensory problems is my gluten allergy- so severe that a small exposure can set me back 20 pounds in one week and take quite literally months to recover from. The motivation to stay safe from both sensory and food hazards is a huge motivator for me and I limit myself in many ways due to my concern and fear of pain, discomfort, and instinctive reactions that are not entirely under my control. (One reason I know that these two things are highly motivating is that I am willing to overcome a few other challenges to put them first in my mind. I try to hide in groups and be the same and blend in... but if confronted with something that challenges my sensory system or potential gluten exposure, I will stand up and stick out until I feel the situation is safe again or I have left. I am the person on the airplane that will make sure that nobody in several rows around me gets to eat a sandwich which doesn't make me very popular... but it keeps me safe and well. : D ) One other motivation is work- I truly like to be busy and I enjoy working towards goals or helping other people. Service is a big motivator for me and I really like how I feel afterwords.... like a little spark has been kindled in my heart and that I truly deserve a small break to enjoy the glow from the spark and a brief rest- I think that brief spark could be called joy. I m motivated to earn money and I am willing to do almost anything to earn it so that I feel secure. I think this motivation would be less strong if I did have more financial means and I wasn't always struggling to just hold my head about water. So I am a jack- of -all -trades and I work for the post office when they need me, teach CPR and first aid a few hours a week, take on freelance genealogy jobs, and I use websites to not only help me save money, but to earn a little bit as well. I am selling some of my belongings through Uncle Henry's and Ebay and I sometimes help people with some shopping for a little extra cash. On top of that add school and if I seem frazzled... well, I am! :O I am motivated by external concerns such as good grades, social status, what others say they think of me... and I am also motivated by a sense of satisfaction at a job well done. I feel inspired to help whenever anyone seems to need help … even if I am not sure what to do. I feel motivated sometimes in such a strong manner towards helping someone or working that I can often puss myself past my physical limit- in some ways my spirit is too willing... and my flesh too weak. ; )

I have quite a few extrinsic motivations if I think about it and look at my former thoughts. I am motivated my money, winning over others, teaching (which can be a form of power), and social status in the form of positive 'carrots'- I need to have good grades, feel liked, get praise, etc... Those carrots are very important for my happiness and to minimize my chronic case of low self esteem. If I was to place these motivations into an order from the most motivating to the least, the list would look a bit like this:
1. Social Status
2. Monetary Compensation
3. Winning Over Others
4. Having Power
There are so many traps that I could find myself entangled in through these extrinsic motivations. I can see myself doing things for money which could violate my personal or religious code as well as the laws of my community. I can see myself being willing to do things to please others that do not please myself... simply to feel that I have made someone else happy or made their lives easier. I defer to people that I have a perception of having a higher social status- which can have its ironies considering my liberal and feminist bent. I defer to people that I see as more knowledgeable than myself, have titles such as Dr., Professor, etc... and I also defer to all men in priesthood roles in my church (this can be a bad thing and isn’t necessarily church doctrine... I think I learned that at home as a child and even my liberal feminist bent hasn't changed that pattern of thinking.) Some of the ways to avoid becoming trapped in these external cycles of motivation are easy to state, but not as easy to put into practice. Working on understanding myself and developing appropriate self esteem would help me to avoid the problems that I can develop from doing things that other's want that I am not sure are a good idea. Developing confidence and self esteem will make it more possible to say 'no' and feel comfortable with my decision no matter what the reaction it provokes. Sometimes I think I say 'yes' so that people do not get mad... or I am concerned that they will not like me... but sometimes the answer really should be 'no.' One important way to avoid getting lost in some of these external traps is to recognize where your weakness are. By understanding the difficulty I have in one area (such as saying 'no'), I can recognize situations easier that might be a problem for me. Understanding my weaknesses can help me to learn compensatory techniques and also ways to deal with my difficulties. It is impossible to work with and understand a weakness that a person doesn't actually understand or acknowledge that they have. That's my thoughts at any rate.

I seem to have a good mixing of intrinsic motivations as well. I feel excited and inspired to help others, I feel joy at a job well done, I want to be true to my beliefs, and I like to be surrounded with people that I care about and people who care about me. If I was to place these motivations into an order from the most motivating to the least, the list would look a lot like this:

1. Making a difference in the world
2. Being associated with people I care about and care about me
3. Helping others
4. Satisfaction in my work and private life
5. Being true to my beliefs

Looking at these lists side by side – I actually printed them out and lay the paper in front of me to study- I found a few interesting things. The first that seemed fairly obvious is that my external motivations are really almost at 'war' with my internal motivations. Social Status and monetary compensation when put first (as I have done) on the list doesn't really compute with the first two on my internal motivations list. The first list (extrinsic motivations) appears to be more of what I tend to follow when push comes to shove... and that is a shocking realization for me. In fact, that seems fairly shallow and self centered... and those words are not words I would ever have thought to use to describe myself. It appears to me that I need to take some time to look at both of these lists more fully and really look at the major motivator behind most of my extrinsic motivations- which appears to be fear. In the past I have recognized that I have some aspects of fear in some parts of my life, but I do not think I have recognized until now how much fear actually rules my life and my choices.

After chewing on the ideas that I mentioned above I thought of a few situations in my life where I have had trouble: i.e, I had conflicts between my external and internal motivations. Looking at those situations I seem to have found a pattern. If pushed too hard, the external motivations were given first shot and I rarely felt very satisfied with the outcome. In fact, I didn't feel satisfied or happy at all... and maybe that is the point. Maybe I need to get past my fear to stick up for myself and others and that will help me to find my joy and 'sweet spot.' I really think that the major reason that I do cave to people is fear and while the reasons for the fear maybe different in these situations... its effects are the same. I feel closed off, unhappy, confused, and certainly unsure and sometimes I feel too much pressure and I just want to run. I haven't run for years though... that's a good step!

I then tried to take both lists and put them together in the 'true' order that I think they are actually formulated in my life- as I doubt we divide our thought and actions into separate lists very often. Here is what the finished product looked like. It actually changed quite a bit in the thought process. An asterisk shows an intrinsic motivation.
1. Having power (this moved to the top because I began to see power as a form of control... and if you are fearful you are more likely to control the things around you and have that need to control. And the more I thought about it, this placement made more sense.)
2. Monetary Compensation (as long as I feel poor and unable to even buy the medicines to keep me healthy I think this will always rank high... especially as I seem to have proven to myself that I am willing to work long hours for little compensation.)
3. Helping Others *
4. Being associated with people I care about and care about me*
5. Social Status
6. Making a difference in the world*
7. Winning over others
8. Satisfaction in my work and private life *
9. Being true to my beliefs *
I did wonder if because of the way I interpreted power if it should be both asterisk free and have an asterisk, but I did leave it asterisk free for now.

Unfortunately, I am not really sure that I am very impressed with the above list. Oh well... at least it was as honest as I could make it due to my thoughts and understanding. :) I think I have several capabilities and strengths. I am not afraid of work and I have a love of learning. I am fairly tolerant and very generous to others. I am great at bringing a smile to the face of other people and working to listen and help in the areas that people feel most needy. I am quite loyal and even when someone has caused me great difficulty and even rejected me and who I am , I find it easy to continue in some ways supporting them and doing the things they need. :) I think I am also pretty strong and can function and sustain a fairly large emotional and physical load for a long period of time which gives me more options and solutions of problems than some people have. I have a great deal of experience with dealing with people in crisis and with serious difficulties- such as substance abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, developmental disabilities and poverty.

But I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of my challenges and weaknesses. I do not have a lot of confidence in myself and I am very likely to place my trust in others even if I am not really comfortable with their conclusions. I find myself sometimes forgoing the care of myself to help someone else... which in the long run affects both me and the other individuals negatively. I have some difficulties with consistency and I do have a strong emotional base that I can find quite difficult to hide at times... especially in situations where I feel hurt, threatened or harmed.

So looking at my strengths and my listed motivations, here is a list I came up with for areas where the two groups seem to combine or can be blended.
1. I have a great need to help others out of poverty and to help myself out of poverty as well.
2. I have experience and a great love of helping people in difficult circumstances get out of those circumstances.
3. I am strong and can help someone with difficulties for a long time so that they can have help consistently for a better and more positive outcome over the long term.

It seems to me that there are a few situations where I would be quite successful and find some joy and peace in my decisions.
1. I could work towards becoming a foster parent for developmental disabled children and even a long term adoptive parent.
2. I could finish my degree and get work as a social worker in areas that I have strengths in such as children, substance abuse, child protective services, and mental illness.
3. I could start a not for profit for helping children and adults with disabilities in my area have the resources that they need to be more successful, more healthy, and to be more productive members of society.

There are probably other things that I could do, but these were the few that not only first came to mind, but have been popping into my head over the last few weeks as ideas for my future that seem reasonable and I also find fairly exciting and energetic about. All three would take a huge amount of time, energy, and also would require that I expend a bit of time, energy and focus on continued building of my strengths and capabilities. All three would require learning and development in areas that I do have strengths but not necessarily the knowledge that is needed. I would also need to work with people who do not necessarily think like me and have strengths and difficulties in different areas of their lives which can help me to grow in understanding, generosity, and joy. This list helps me to feel hopeful and also seems to be helping me to discover a new direction in my life which sounds difficult and challenging, but worthwhile, exciting and downright fun and rewarding. I have already started to make priority lists for all three to ponder and really think about to see where my energy and time should best be focused. Some parts of the future look quite exciting now. :)

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