Tall Poppy Diaries

Observations and musings on life as a happy high-achiever (or what the Aussie's call a "Tall Poppy" ). "Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have." --Oprah Winfrey

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


  Tall Poppy Basics Lesson 5: Motivated

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Tall Poppy...
Is motivated by a desire to feel content and comfortable, NOT by recognition.

Sets her own goals and priorities instead of attempting to achieve someone else's.

Tries to live her life without regret.

Doesn't mistake want for need, but realizes that she requires some of both.

Understands that lack of motivation is a nudge toward change. Tall Poppy acts upon her need to change and grow before all of her "get up and go" is gone!

The beloved actress Helen Hayes once said, "My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that 'achievement' is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that's nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success."

Some believe that Tall Poppies are motivated by awards, recognition and success because Tall Poppies are often on the receiving end of such things. However, I believe that Tall Poppies achieve success and recognition because they do what they love. They follow their hearts rather than the desires of others or a larger paycheck. When you do what you love, the work is more enjoyable and one is destined to be more successful in it.

Tall Poppies are only happy if they are being true to themselves. If your only motivation in your work is to please someone else, you will eventually lose interest in it and wither. Yesterday, Susan and I went for our weekly "Lunch and a Movie" and saw Kinsey (which is REALLY good). I am struck by how different our world might be today if Kinsey had sought to please his brow-beating father and gone into the ministry rather than following his heart to study gall wasps (yawn...) and, later, human sexuality. Granted we might have been spared Britney and Madonna at the MTV's for another 20 years or so. But the lives of millions of people (particularly women) were changed for the better because Kinsey followed his OWN heart.

Kinsey became famous and received recognition beyond imagining. But when he set out to rework the science and language of human sexuality, was he seeking recognition? Or was he following a (dicey) career path that fascinated him and motivated him to do his best work? Most certainly, it was the latter. Tall Poppies do what they love, change course when their hearts lead them, and are recognized for their superior efforts. Weeds will bet their homes that Tall Poppy is "making a spectacle of herself" because she thrives on "attention". The truth is that Tall Poppy IS a spectacle. There is NOTHING more captivating than a man or woman in love--whether it be with their work, their children or their significant other. It's intoxicating.

Annie is a former corporate exec who left the big salary and perks behind to raise her children. Deep in her heart, she's a wife and mother. But she's also a writer. She has found a way to do all that she loves at the same time. Girl From Florida--the gorgeous goddess who also just happens to be a scientist--doesn't exactly fit the stereotype of "Scientist", which will ensure that she will always get LOTS of attention--both good AND bad. But she's following her heart... and will always stand out from the crowd as a result. Pink Sun Drops is a SAHMom who finds peace and joy in her work as a wife, mother and homemaker--but is balanced and self-aware, and finds time to nourish her OWN spirit rather than withering under the monotony that CAN BE the lot of a SAHM. Do you think that these women have neighbors, family and friends who are a bit envious of them? Yep. They get noticed, because they are HAPPY. And, heaven forbid, they are good at what they do, too! And they never lose THEMSELVES in their work. But they aren't seeking fame or a hefty paycheck. They are simply doing what they love, and doing it well.

A Tall Poppy's motives will always be questioned because they will always be "noticed". They're a little spunkier. A little happier. A little more willing to go the extra mile. The work of the heart is always more charismatic and meaningful than the work of the head or hand. Those who follow their hearts will always continue to grow, adapt and thrive.

Moments after skating an almost perfect performance, earning seven perfect 6.0's and her 8th US Ladies figure skating title in 2004, Michelle Kwan was asked, "So, what did you think about all of those 6.0's?" Michelle replied: "All of the 6.0's were just like the cherry on top of a sundae. All I really wanted to do was skate well."

It sounds trite and contrived, but for Tall Poppy it is the journey to self-fulfillment that is the most rewarding, not the unexpected prize at the end of the road. So what can we do in 2005 to find the motivation to be our personal best?
1). Be introspective. What makes you happy? If money were no object, what would you be doing differently in your career? At home? Write down your answers to all three questions.
2). Think outside the box. Incorporate each of your answers from #1 into a plan to adapt your work and home lives to suit your own desires. What would motivate you to be your best self? Is there a way to incorporate what your true desires into your current work? If not, is it time to consider a career change? Is there volunteer work that could benefit you in your career (added experience, client contacts, etc.) and give you the opportunity to do what you enjoy?
3. Don't wait for anyone to rescue you or sustain you. You have EVERYTHING you need to improve your life inside of you. You just have to figure out what you want, and go after it.
4). Be prepared and ready to grow. If the above changes would result in less income, loss of benefits, less time with family, etc. , what do you need to do now in order to prepare to make the changes that would enhance your quality of life--would increase your motivation to do your best work--would make you happy? Do you need additional education? Work experience? Do you need to work more hours now in order to have the money to be flexible later? Do you need to find someone to counsel you through a career change? If you are a SAHM, what would make your life more fulfilling? What do YOU need to do to make that happen? (don't think about what you need OTHERS to do, think about what YOU can do to find more joy in your life).
5). Be willing to act. Now. Write down three changes that you need to make in your life in the near future that will move you closer to your goal, bring you greater joy and re-kindle your motivation to move forward. Today's the day to start. DO IT!

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