Why Can’t I Do What I Should Do? Skill VS Will


A tricolour Basset Hound.

A tricolour Basset Hound. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all have tasks which we believe we “should” do if we desire to achieve some goal. If one knows what one “should” do and believes one “should” do it then why is it so hard for one to do it?

Does one know how to do it? Whenever one has a gap between actual and desired action or performance, a great place to begin is to ask oneself if one knows how to do the task. A great test to see if someone has the required knowledge and/or skill is to ask, “If someone offered a million dollars to compete this task, could I get it done somehow?” (Note: hiring someone else to do the task and pocketing the rest of the cash is not an option.) If one could complete the task given a significant incentive or coerced to complete the task to avoid a significant harm or punishment, then one knows what to do and how to do it.

GETTING ADDITIONAL TRAINING WILL TYPICALLY NOT BE HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL IN MOTIVATING ONE TO COMPLETE A TASK! Teaching someone how to do something better which they already know how to do but choose not to do, is usually not very effective in motivating someone to do what they don’t like to do. So what’s missing?

longhaired Basset Hound

longhaired Basset Hound (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does one have the will to do the task? Is there significant internal motivation to satisfy a need or desire to complete the task? We all are able to sometimes do things we really are not interested or hate doing. Why can we do these sometimes and other times we are unable to rise to the occasion? Denying a natural need or desire to go against one’s natural motivation and choosing to act in a way counter to one’s nature requires resilience and willpower and comes at an emotional cost. Studies have shown willpower requires significant energy and if one expends all of one’s highly limited willpower reserves, one is unable to overcome one’s natural resistance to self-denial of one’s internal motives or base desires.

Dr. Steven Reiss, PhD has studied human motivation extensively and has created a motivation theory which categorizes basic human motives or desires into 16 common motives. You can read more about Dr. Reiss’s theory at www.16desires.com. If one doesn’t fully understand and appreciate what drives one’s internal motivation/desires, then one is easily blocked and frustrated. When we don’t get our needs satisfied, we tend to get frustrated and this too is draining. Frustration and willpower are tough to power at the same time. Unfortunately, frustration outlasts willpower and we give up as we run out of mental steam.

In many situations one may wish to “fix” or “educate” someone who is not meeting one’s expectations in a personal or business relationship through teaching them the “error” of their ways or selling them on a new path to personal wellness. This will be successful in the long-term if the client or subject is internally motivated to use this new knowledge or skill in a way which satisfies a significant need/desire. It’s news one can use. If not, the behavioral change will at best be temporary and under stress, the client/subject will typically revert back to natural behavior based on personal need satisfaction.

Determining if a performance gap or failure to adapt to a change is a resulting from a lack of knowledge/skill or a lack of will is often the key to determining the lasting effectiveness of any performance improvement intervention. Too often we try to teach a sheep to sing and end up frustrating both the sheep and the teacher. There is an apt coaching admonition which says, “A coach cannot want a player to play better than the player wants to play.” It’s typically best to hire the best players one can find and afford and not try to teach sub-par, unmotivated team members to success through coaching and training. If someone simply does not have the will to do what s/he knows how to do, then until s/he finds an internal motive to do the task which is greater than the natural resistance, the odds of successful behavior until completion are small. We each chase our own hybrid of motivational carrots.

Why are you not achieving your full potential? What are you forcing yourself to regularly do things which fizzles you out even if you are good at doing them? Is frustration holding you back from peak performance? Are you chasing the right carrot for you?

A Reiss Motivation Profile® can be an excellent starting point on life’s motivational marathon. If you would like to discover what naturally motivates you, please send me an e-mail at andy@lifematchesbook.com and we will schedule your personal RMP consultation.

Basset Hound

Basset Hound (Photo credit: Philippe Guintoli)

Learning to use your strengths to satisfy your needs/desires is a surefire way to live Fired Up!

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Run Your Race


Horse Racing

Horse Racing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why has a Clydesdale never won the Kentucky Derby?

A Clydesdale is an amazingly beautiful, strong, large and powerful steed, but it was built to pull and not for speed. A Thoroughbred is born to run but would not be the best teammate to pull a beer wagon.

When one fights one’s natural motivation in a vain attempt to win the purse, one’s needs will outlast one’s willpower. When life is a drag, maybe you are pulling the wrong wagon? When someone pursues a career based on anything but one’s hard-wired needs, desires and personal strengths, one is horsing around like a Clydesdale seeking to win the Triple Crown. We chronically deny our natural needs at great risk to our well-being.

Do what you love. Passionately pursue your dreams. Develop and use your natural strengths. Minimize the impact of your natural weaknesses by managing around them. Know what you need to feel genuine satisfaction and develop healthy habits which consistently satisfy your needs.

If you do those things, you will be running your own race and are bound to win!

If you don’t really know what you need to feel satisfied, then complete a Reiss Motivation Profile. Send me an e-mail at andy@lifematchesbook to schedule a personal consultation and you can learn which of the sixteen human needs are most important to your sense of satisfaction. To learn more about living your strengths, buy a copy of my book, “Life Matches: Fire Up Your Life!” available from Amazon.com. Visit my site to download free exercises from my book at http://www.lifematchesbook.com.

Live the life you were uniquely born to live. When you do, you’ll be living Fired Up!

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