Why do we do what we do? What moves us in such a way that makes us say “I have to do this”? Motivation comes in many forms. There are times when we accomplish tasks or do everyday things that are a part of our lives without thinking twice about what motivates us to do it. These things have an end point. It is motivation with a finite goal. Then there is the motivation that comes from life experiences that are bigger and more impactful. These influences can cause our path to immediately change and motivate us to do something entirely different.
Webster's Dictionary defines motivation as, “the force or influence that causes someone to do something”. It is the element that influences whether you get up early and go to the gym before work or hang out on a day off and read a book. It determines the level at which something is done; whether someone does just enough to do the job or whether they go the extra mile. It is the foundation for success; the crucial element in setting and attaining goals.
Motivation is the desire, drawn from deep within, to do something. It is what makes me get up at 4:30 in the morning and go running before work. One of my best friends is a runner. It comes easy for her. It is not so easy for me. I need a reason, something to motivate me. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, my first marathon, for my son and his comrades who were deployed in Iraq. It is what I did to show my support. Then I ran the Boston Marathon to show support for the first responders, hospital staff, the people who were injured, and for the families of those who lost their life after the bombings. What motivated me was the strength I felt deep within.
But they are events that happen and then they are gone. The goal was accomplished.
What motivates someone to take care of an injured person, a father, mother, son, or daughter? What motivates someone to educate a preadolescent to wear a helmet when they ride a bike when all of their friends do not? Or, to teach a teenager the dangers of texting and driving? There are many factors.
Some are a part of our fabric, a part of us that has been there since we were small children. For others it may have been an event that influenced how we want to live our lives. There is a prominent trauma surgeon who will say he became who he is today because as a high school student he witnessed a car accident. He saw a trauma victim lose his life at the scene and decided he was going to be someone who could help someone else in the future.
To make the decision to work in trauma, to care for those injured, to teach, to help others understand what is going on in a world of chest tubes, ventilators, damage control, and injury prevention, is to be someone who is the rock for a patient in a vulnerable position. Someone to help them cope, to know what the plan is and to know what to do to get them back to the place, if possible, they were before an injury, is so fulfilling. We all have our reasons.
What motivates one to run into danger? Do you run toward a motor vehicle collision to provide care to the driver or passengers? When you hear an explosion, do you move toward it, knowing that there will be people that need your help?
It is also what motivates someone to work hard to prevent an injury from happening—to put those who care for the injured out of business. There is something deep inside that motivates someone to belong to an organization or committee to ensure that the best possible program, educational curriculum, or trauma system is in place. A system that will ensure the physical and emotional needs of the injured are being met in the best possible way. Motivation in this form speaks to me. It is why I chose to do what I do. It is why I love my job. I am motivated to help others during the most traumatic time of their lives. The unexpected has happened, and I want to be there to help. I am drawn to this patient population and I really cannot see myself happier any place else. It is what motivates me daily and is why I continue to persevere on their behalf. It is part of my fabric. What motivates me may not motivate another. How do we learn what moves each of us and how do we inspire others to find that motivation within? How do we influence others and encourage them to do anything? We can start by leading by example.
Motivation is a very powerful force. What is yours?