All Motivation Is Self-Motivation


This past summer I taught a course at UCLA Extension on interpersonal communication. People sign up for various reasons, though the most common is a desire to overcome shyness. Kristina [name changed]was a “typical” shy student. She had a college degree, a good job, and wanted to work on her communication skills so as to improve her chances for advancement.

She seldom talked in class and frequently texted while I was speaking. She admitted she couldn’t imagine living without texting. She likes that it lets her keep people at a distance and she can easily get rid of them whenever she wants.

After the final class, people mingled about making plans for a reunion. Kristina, though, started sharing with me about her parents who came here from Latin America. While growing-up, they strictly raised her like back in their home country. She sounded angry as she described how they didn’t allow her to go to her high school prom and how culturally hard her life has been.

I was moved, but I also was tired and annoyed — why hadn’t she shared this in one of the cross-cultural discussions? All I wanted was to join the other participants and say good-bye, but Kristina didn’t get my subtle hints that it was time to wrap up the conversation. She was oblivious that I wanted to “get rid of” her!

I know I may be coming off as a jerk, BUT, I had offered everyone in the class an opportunity for a free coaching session. What Kristina was sharing with me would make excellent fodder for that phone chat.

So, here’s where life gets complicated. Kristina is shy and in class made minimal effort to practice steps to overcome her shyness. She clings to texting because it keeps people at a distance. She enjoys getting rid of people, but is clueless when I try to get rid of her! While she had taken the class to change her shy ways, I think she was too comfortable in her victim mentality to really be willing to change, i.e. stop texting and deal directly with people!

In almost every column I write that change is hard. It demands more than sitting in a classroom once a week for a couple of months. It means sitting down with your self and asking, “Do I want to change?”

If you want to change, you’ve got to be willing to do what you don’t like doing which most likely will be the opposite of what you’re doing now. It will mean finding a guide; it’ll mean asking for help and reaching out for feedback.

Business guru Tom Peters says: All motivation is SELF-motivation. Are you motivated?

Please send your communication questions to me at:

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