Motivate Me.

Or how to get my attention.

One of my lecturers sat in our classroom one morning wearing a shirt with the unmistakable inscription "Motivate Me". We were all a bit confused, a little scared, as her choice of clothes followed a very intense work phase, which had demanded a lot from each of us. Granted, our performance had not really been Oscar-mature, but had we really been so bad? While in some of us - among others in me - uncertainty spread, the braver ones rushed forward and complimented how great the shirt would look like, "funny saying" and so on.


After the last seat was taken and a little more concentration had returned, we started as every morning with the work. In turn everyone was allowed to show, as every morning, what he had on it that day and how he felt that day, what he had learned the day before or not - just a normal day of training. Only that over all there was this shirt screaming at us.

And how could it be otherwise, after the first round of work, our lecturer jumped up, stood in the middle of the room, looked at us piercingly and called to us: "Do you see what is written on my shirt!?" Her fingers pointed to the words as if they were the arrows of a neon sign while her unbridled energy spread in the room and literally pushed us into the chairs. No one did a damn thing, but we nodded intimidated. "Do you know what that means?" We nodded again as a precaution. "Then PLEASE do so: Motivate Me!" After looking around stupidly, we took the challenge. Of course, we can do this! A group of reasonably well rested young people should be able to do it. So we did our best to motivate her. Everyone came up with some idea. One better than the other. Everyone wanted to surpass everyone and be the hero of the task. For motivation, of course. We were loud, quiet, crazy, rigid, lying on the floor, running across the room, leaping through the air, howling, screaming, laughing - the whole gamut of emotions we were about to engage in. Despite all our efforts, our lecturer did not show any kind of enthusiasm. Not a single trace of motivation. A not very auspicious "sit down" was the result. "What do you think, why I wear this shirt?" Stupid question. So we motivate you, of course. Just like your shirt says. "What should you motivate me for?" Yes, right, what for, actually? That was the sticking point. None of us knew the answer, so she gave it to us: "You should motivate me to react." Didn't we do so? Her bored face spoke volumes.

"I do not need any motivation from you to get up in the morning and be here with you. That's not what it is about. I like being with you. All I want from you is that you give me something that I can identify with. " From this side, none of us actually considered this sentence. Every one of us was very busy expressing something. A thought, an emotion. In order to hear a "yes, just like that". To fulfill the task. For yourself. For your own confirmation, to have done everything right and to be better than the other. For your own ego. But no one had even thought for a second what our lecturer actually wanted. And that should be the first thing that these cotton-printed letters wanted to teach us. Did you think about your opponent? What does it take? Can you give something of what the other person needs? Nobody had dealt with that. Our focus was only supposedly on her, in the belief that we could motivate her - to whatever. In fact, we were only concerned with ourselves.


That actually made us really bad. Our energy was there, we clearly expressed it through our sweeping emotions and actions. But it was anything but focused. Rather, it wallowed aimlessly, unable to pursue a clear goal. And that should be the second thing we learned that day: to be focused.

Knowing what you want is good, that's out of the question. But you should also consider what others want and focus on the other person. Don't get me wrong. I don't me in a self-exploiting way. It's rather stepping away from your ever circling thoughts which - let's be honest - are very likely to lead you nowhere but...right back to your own circling thoughts.

Only when I manage to address the other, may it be with words or feelings or words that are full of feelings, I have a chance to create an identification. Then you listen to me, then the interest is aroused. Because you can find yourself in it. You feel heard. You feel understood. Your feelings connect. YOU connect. This is what everyone of us is looking for.

And this is what our lecturer wanted to tell us - what could be better than rediscovering yourself in someone else's work?

So, motivate me just like I promise, I will try my best to motivate you.