The Avenue

To Whom Are You Connected, Financially and Otherwise?

Even the fastest race car, or biggest, baddest monster truck isn’t able to move forward without fuel. On what fuel are you running your life? Is it regular, mediocre, decaffeinated or premium fuel?

Just like our vehicles must have fuel to run, the same is true for our minds, bodies and spirits. Perhaps you don’t give this much thought, but the quality and duration of your life will depend on: one, the choices and values you hold dearest today and tomorrow; and, two, the actions you take to achieve or surpass your goals.

I’ve observed there are three ways to get to know someone. Simply put: how do they spend their (1) money, (2) time and (3) praise. That’s right, praise, which like the first two commodities has both a positive (as measured in joy) and a negative (as measured in criticism and anger) expression. By learning how a person spends and manages their money, time and praise, we learn much about whose, and who, they really are (that is, beneath the surface). This observation applies to getting to know anyone in most cultures and societies.

What, then, is the fuel, or force, which motivates you? Is it the need for more money, time or praise? Or is it the need to give others money, time and praise?

Knowing what motivates us is a key in learning who we really are, beneath superficial norms, manners or customs. If we do not know our “real self,” it is sometimes because of subconscious forces or blockages that hinder us from being, in a Rogerian sense, authentic, genuine and congruent. Or it may be because of behavioral or attitudinal upbringing that we received in our formative years. This may be why the Old Testament teaches that “to spare the rod (of discipline) is to spoil the child;” or “Bring up a child in the way they are to go (honestly, firmly, trustingly and lovingly) and when they are old they will not depart from it” (the way of honor, hope, faith and love). Either way, it is also why the ancient lore of the Old Testament and other divine texts teaches the wise or the willing the Cardinal Truth for all human learning, motivation and education: “The (reverential) fear (or honor) of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (and motivation).” Differences aside, keep in mind that long before there were established religions there was truth, or the need for wisdom. Knowing what motivates us, then, is a key to truth, wisdom and knowing both whose and who we are at best (and at worst). As President Harry Truman said so well: “The only things worth learning in life are the things (or lessons) we learn after (we think) we know it all . . . (or after we are teenagers).” (Comments in parentheses are mine).

In the same way, none of us can move forward in life to accomplish our God-inspired purpose without moving beyond our fears and doubts, using the divine faith and hope within us. How do we move beyond our greatest fears and doubts? With Jesus by our side and with the right people behind us, accepting, helping and loving us for whose and who we are. How do we assess the level of human motivation at which we are living? Check your motives (why you do what you do, honestly), your values, choices, goals and the actions you’ve taken in recent years with the money, time and praise you’ve spent. Then ask three or four best friends or family members who know you best to see if they agree with your findings. If not, you’re out of alignment with your self-image.

Another more objective way is to hire a board-certified medical psychotherapist, logotherapist or Master Life Coach to meet with you in several sessions to assess your MLP (Master Life Priorities) Values, Choices and Goals to determine the variance which exists in your perceived self versus actual MLP scores. Without getting too technical, this process requires the completion of personality and/or lifestyle values assessments to see how well you know yourself and with whom you are most and least compatible. (Be sure whoever helps you with this process holds at least an earned doctorate in psychology, medicine or human behavior and is using assessments which are valid, reliable and effective).

There are four types of higher motivations that exist. I will address each (fear, economic, achievement and love motivation) in my next article. Together, they reveal why it is essential to practice honesty, trust and reciprocity in our workplaces. Simply put: without honesty, there is little trust; without trust there is little achievement and no love; and without love there is nothing great or worthwhile. In the highest level of motivation, the person does not do things primarily for their own selfish purpose, but for the altruistic good of serving or helping others. The best example I know of such motivation is that exhibited by a committed mother. Quintessentially, in the highest type of motivation we are taught (as was Peter) that the “greatest of us must be servants of all.”

For further information on the importance of psychological, spiritual and physical health in our lives, workplace and families, check out my book, HONOR The Z FORCE for Health, Intimacy & Meaning in Your Life: A Model for Spiritual, Psychological & Emotional Health. Have a safe, healthy, productive and blessed summer in H.I.M. who makes the stars shine and the summer breeze to flow.

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About the Author

Dr. Jonathan Z+ is a psychotherapist, poet and author, the CEO and Health, Education and Wellness Medicine commissioner with the American Council on Excellence, and the founder of the American College of Wellness Doctors.

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