So, how do we get really motivated to learn? Throughout my career, I’ve learned to appreciate two techniques that can help.
First, impress yourself. Don’t think of others’ expectations or demands. Instead, consider what could you achieve next year, in two years, or five years that would truly impress you personally. Consider Olympic athletes: many elite sports involve gravity-defying feats, but audiences don’t often see the hours of repetitive, grueling practice sessions. Studies have shown that the most successful athletes are often those who are not necessarily the most physically gifted but those with the most optimism and goal-orientation, which allows these sprinters and swimmers and runners to bounce back faster from setbacks. I remember first thinking, probably 15 years ago, that I might one day be Head of Asia at RGA, but also thought that goal was ridiculous; it wasn’t achievable. But it motivated me. Keep your career objectives in mind, even if you do not discuss them with anyone, and use these goals to motivate your progress.
Second, get to the root cause. When I face a difficult challenge, I don’t expect to learn how to resolve it until I have asked five or six questions that help me better understand all the nuances and the root cause of the problem. It can take courage and persistence to ask questions of anyone in authority. Interpersonal skills, as much as intelligence, are often necessary to maintain collaborative relationships.