During a recent presentation I was asked the following question. Can somebody motivate another party to do something, or do we have to be self-motivated to succeed? It's difficult to answer but here are a few thoughts.
If I offered to lodge €1m every year into the bank account of a would-be non-smoker – on condition they'd never smoke again – there is a good chance I would motivate them to stop.
Here is another: I am sure we all subscribe to the fact that half of Ireland seems to have taken up physical exercise in recent years. So how has this wonderful contagion happened? Almost certainly, a huge percentage of recruits have been influenced by the actions of others – power walking groups or Operation Transformation spin-offs.
Surely in this context, people have been motivated to take up exercise because they see family, close friends or work colleagues out there having fun. I believe the answer is 'yes' – we can motivate others.
Consider the example of Castleblayney, Co Monaghan: as a result of a local GAA initiative, more than 700 locals (out of a population of 3,000) take part in a 5k each December. Even in year one, they had more than 300 do it.
Most were beginners who were inspired by the initiative and by people in their own local community. Next year it will have an even bigger take-up if the organisers have anything to do with it.
Leading by example is a great way to influence others. Isn't that how we learn as children? We see how adults do things and we imitate them.
I recall listening many years ago to a speaker talking about how he had completed an Ironman triathlon. As a result, I became hugely motivated and followed through on that motivation, by signing up and completing one.
My final words relate to an email I received in 2005, which told the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt from Boston, Massachusetts. A video attached to the email narrated their incredible tale of achieving – on the face of it – something impossible. Dick was completing an Ironman triathlon while pulling, carrying and pushing his son through the swim, cycle and run.
I can still feel my reaction to the video nine years later. It inspired and motivated me to pursue my personal goals to a much higher level than I was doing previously. That video altered the direction I was headed in my life and steered me on to a completely different and very exciting course.
A large part of me didn't even realise I was looking to be motivated.
As a result of it, I was injected with confidence to believe that I could achieve things that my old mindset might had considered impossible. I still use its inspiration and motivation to this day.
Perhaps the lesson to be learnt is: if we wish to help, motivate and inspire others, then we simply have to lead by example.
Gerry Duffy is a motivational speaker and endurance athlete. www.gerryduffyonline.com