You Are In Charge

I recently conducted a motivation workshop for some form four students (grade 10) at a prestigious girls’ school in Trinidad and began by asking the question: “Whom would you say is responsible for your motivation in life? Is it your family, your school, your teachers, your government, or God?”

Before I give you the response from these teenagers, what is your answer to the same question? I am waiting. Well, these responsible and intelligent young ladies answered impressively: “WE are accountable for our own motivation!” I was so pleasantly surprised and indeed very proud of them. I would have answered differently when I was their age (fourteen years).

These young women understood that we are accountable for motivating ourselves. Now let me add that I should be a bit easy on you, as at your tender age you will certainly need the support of your parents, school and teachers, government and ultimately ‘Uncle God.’ Even as adults, the support of these institutions also helps. But ultimately it is us who decide to make ourselves happy, peaceful and successful. As the future leaders, I thought you should know this right now.

I have worked in organizations where employees have put the responsibility of their motivation on their employers. Yes, I totally agree that companies owe their employees fair pay, fair treatment, meaningful work, and a pleasant work environment; as a human resource manager, I ensured all these and more were delivered. Yet, at the end of the day, regardless of how much we did for the employees (even exceeding expectations at times), they always focused on the company’s minor shortcomings and saw the glass as three-quarters empty!

What I realised over time is that you cannot motivate another person, you just simply cannot. You can create an atmosphere (both at home and work) that is positive and fosters the growth and success of others. But if the person is not committed to his/her own happiness and well being, then your efforts could go to waste. That’s why I think, ultimately, individuals have to take charge of their own happiness. At work I tried to do this for my employees because I cared so much for them, but it was one of my least intelligent ideas, though well-intended.

We sometimes love to blame external factors for our state of being. Look around. Citizens worldwide complain about their governments, yet they themselves are sometimes the causes of their problems. Recently in the news we saw massive flooding in Trinidad, brought about by the rains, and it was sad to see the destruction caused to homes and farming.

But when we look closer, we will find that some (not all) of the victims contributed to their own problems; they are the ones who played a role in the destruction of the environment by littering, burning, not properly disposing garbage, and even building houses on river banks. Shouldn’t they be held accountable? We become ill and blame God for our health situation. But it was we (at times) who ate badly, indulged in risky sexual practises, failed to exercise, took drugs, and overworked our bodies. I know sickness is a gloomy situation, but who is responsible?

We place our comfort and happiness in the hands of other people, circumstances and fate. But, Friend, no one, not even God, can make you happy. God gave you the tools; hence your joyfulness becomes strictly your job. You have to motivate yourself because only you know how best to. Sure, favourable external conditions will certainly make the journey easier, I do not doubt that. But they are not absolutely necessary. You dictate your level of bliss and contentment. Can you now see the power you possess? It’s amazing! Don’t give it away!

You are young and therefore need to draw upon the support and wisdom of those around you: family, friends, school, and me. But as you prepare for adulthood, you must keep in mind that you and God are in charge of your wonderful life and no one else has that privilege. Self-reliance and accountability makes a person. Passing the buck and holding others responsible for our lives keeps us stuck in baby-hood! Let us not only grow old; more importantly, let’s work on growing up!

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