Personal Excellence: Whats Your Motivation? (Part 1 of 3)

I was in the gym, pushing my adolescent muscles to their limit. The other dudes where there too, getting their various degrees of "pump" on. And there he was, the one we called "Pec Man" This cat looked like all he did in life was work his chest. His twin peaks of manhood bulged and glistened before us as he paused every 5 seconds to admire his life's work. Awe and envy filled the space whenever we beheld his mountainous presence.

One day a fit, but flat middle aged man approached PM and asked him what seemed like a straightforward-and immensely valuable-question, "How did you get your pecs so large?"

The weight room became eerily silent. Pimply teens and sagging mid-lifers alike leaned in to drink the elixir of this magnificent man's experience and advice. Soon, we too would have straining mounds of machismo under our tightly fitting, but tastefully demure shirts. Our bosses and girlfriends will approve. Our enemies will shrink. We will join the pantheon of the mighty. We would be legends.

"I work," he quipped. Stunned by the simplicity of the answer, we all let out a collective nervous chuckle. Of course he worked. We all did. We knew there was more to it than that, so, we drew in our breaths for the big answer,

Our hero, Mr. Mid-Life asked again, "Of course sir, you work, and quite effectively I see." "I was wondering though, about what exercises you did in your work. What's your secret?"

Again, the air fairly thickened while we anticipated more muscle manna from this Olympian god. We would know what he knows. Soon, they would see our might and know we were men!

"I work hard," was his final answer as he returned to his incredibly intimidating lifting routine.

The first thought I had was one that remained with me for several years. "Jerk." "What a cop out." "That's no answer." "Everybody knows that hard work gets it done." At sixteen, I'd already become conditioned to the idea that there is a magic pill or instant elixir that makes it all good in our lives. The truth is, if Pec Man had gone into vivid detail about his chest routine most of us would have been just as disappointed. That's because essentially all accomplishment requires what we like to derisively call "hard work". Few it seems, understand that fact. Fewer, still, want to hear it. Quite rare in modern western society are those who'll embrace that fact.

Another part of me though, has come to realize that the Devil is indeed in the details. How we do a thing is as important as how hard we do it. Running north from Miami as hard as you can will never get you to Tokyo. So then, the answer to "getting it done" lies in the simple combination of doing the right work and doing it the right way. But why do it anyway? Why have massive muscles or a better job? Why try to understand others, or raise balanced children? The final key to getting it done is the reason you want to do it in the first place.

David L. Cole is a speaker, trainer, and writer who empowers people seeking personal excellence, professional distinction, and positive social change.

He earned a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership and spent 13 years as a higher education professional. Currently he is the founder of dlcMedia, a company that provides principle-based training through keynotes, workshops, and coaching. dlcMedia helps individuals, organizations, and communities enhance their roles as scholars, leaders and citizens.

You can find out more about his work at

You can reach David at [email protected]

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