Tuesday, February 17, 2009

If You Are In A Rut...

...hop out!

You may have heard the story. It goes something like this... Two frogs were playing in a muddy road. Their gleeful hopping gradually took them deeper and deeper into a rut. One of the frogs tired of the game and decided he was ready to move along so he hopped out of the rut. The other frog looked at him wearily.

"Hop out!" cried the first frog. "If you don't get home, you'll miss supper." The little fellow in the mud was getting hungry, but he was also weary. He had begun to ponder just taking a nice, long nap here in the rut. "I can't. I'm too tired," the second frog moaned as he sat his little chin on the ground. "Besides, it's cool and comfy down here. I just don't have the energy to hop out of this deep rut."

The first frog croaked his pleas over and over again. The second frog lifted his chin once or twice and even made a half-hearted attempt to hop that high but, alas, he felt it was just too much for him. He couldn't do it.

Until both frogs heard a sound. A low rumble floated in the air to them and quickly grew louder. It escalated until the earth seemed to shake with it. They looked down the road a short distance and a large truck was racing toward them. One front wheel was in the very rut where the little frog was stuck! The frog up on top screamed and squeezed his eyes shut as the trucked thundered by!

Then, as it grew quiet once again, a tear started dripping down his cheek. He slipped up to the edge of the rut and peered over. No one was there! Had his friend been buried in the mud? As he shook from fear and sorrow, he heard a sound behind him.

On the side of the road sat his friend, croaking happily. "How did you get there?" "I took one big hop and landed here," the friend replied.

"But," said the first frog, "you said you couldn't get out. What changed?"


I tell that story because, a few years ago, I was that frog in the mud. I felt weary and unable to get out of my rut. My motivation came in the form of a seminar taught by author/speaker John Maxwell. The subject was leadership and no one else can hold me in such rapt attention for long stretches of time.

When I left for that Southern California conference with several co-workers, what I really wanted to do was put my chin down in the mud and sleep for a while. I seriously considered whether I might have a case of burn-out.

By the time I returned home, I was not only out of my rut, but I had purchased -- at my own expense -- a veritable library of resources I could use to continue my study. My motivation was strong enough to permanently change some of my time management. It started me on a learning quest that continues today, some ten years later.

My "big truck" was actually the discovery of something I wanted more than the safe confines of my rut. I wanted to grow as a leader. And I knew it wouldn't happen without diligent, elongated effort. I discovered that it's amazing how far you can hop -- if you have the proper motivation.

So, my friend...what motivates you?

p.s. My "Old Friend" -- the one I wrote about yesterday. He sent me an email that arrived as I was leaving for the office in the morning. Contact!


Heather said...

Hmmm....I found this a very interesting question. I don't know. Motivation has been something I struggle to find and as a result often end up doing things in a mad scramble at the last minute. This is not something that I am by any means conquering on a daily basis yet and it serves as a constant source of frustration and often shame on my part. But I suppose that there have been times of immense change in my life, like your conference where things have shifted en masse and I've come away looking at life differently and so found I didn't need as much motivation as before...things just got done without the struggle.

So I would suppose at the risk of sounding corny, I would say that God is my motivation. In that He always seems to be able to find the thing required to propel me to the next stage. I must keep Him on His toes, because it's never the same thing twice. But how wonderful it is that He never gives up but keeps sending those trucks my way!

Dina said...

Sam, that is an awesome story. I'd never heard it before. When I feel like I'm in a rut or dangerously close to getting stuck, the first trick is to recognize the rut. Thankfully, I'm getting better at recognition of the problem sooner - before I've sunk to deep in the mud. And, I have to agree with Heather. I find motivation from God through prayer. Also, ever since I started running a year ago, I also find that running inspires me to keep moving towards other goals. Of course, finding the motivation to run is sometimes the first challenge. ;)

Sandra said...

Sam -- My motivations have definitely changed since we retired over two years ago. I think my main motivation now is sort of an anti-motivation ... I'm trying to NOT be the couch potato stereotype that so many predicted was the lot of all retirees! The picture of becoming that person has inspired me to keep moving both physically and mentally. Hubby and I belong to a gym and play golf (and the Wii!), and I have lots of new hobbies, including blogging. The blessings of time and good health are wonderful pluses in retirement.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I'm motivated by the thought of new experiences (hence the travel), and I'm motivated by the idea of making a difference in the world (hence academia... I hope!). But when my motivation falters, it really does...

Liz said...

Sam- just wanted to let you know that I've given you an award. Pop over to my Eternal Lizdom blog if you'd like to pick it up! Or just read the nice things I said about your blog...

Sam said...

Thanks to you all. And (obviously) I don't think motivation from God is corny at all. More tomorrow.