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I had this nasty habit of getting a small pint of whole milk, around lunch time, and a snack-sized serving of Chips A’Hoy cookies.  I’m not quite sure what it was about that combination that set my world on fire, but rest assured — once I got my fix, it. was. on.  We’re talking about the type of diarrhea that shuffles your entire life around.  The kind that could stop an every day college kid and make him consider why bad things happen to good people.

Now, the timer on this leviathan was usually substantial enough to last me until I got home, where I could drop the pay load in the safety and comfort of my own toilet.  But the signs were all there; a storm was brewing and all I could do was batten down the hatches.  Looking back, it’s a miracle that I was able to contain such a fury for so long.  It took a special kind of will power that I don’t exert very often these days.

You see, I hate using public bathrooms.  I hate it more than most.  I don’t like the smell of them; I don’t like the lighting; I don’t like the idea that everyone has dropped everything but the kitchen sink and flushed it down the communal toilets; but most of all, I don’t like the idea of dirty toilet water splashing onto my posterior.  It grosses me out.  Not to mention the fact that people are walking in and out of the space, destroying the peace of mind and zen that should be a requisite of a good number two.

But on this particular day, which is the thesis of this glimpse into my past, the symptoms were stronger than usual.  I was sitting in class and, suddenly, I had the urge to fart.  Then, I got the brilliant idea that if I dropped my textbook and farted at the same time, nobody would hear it.  So I dropped my textbook, everyone looked at me, then I farted.  Loudly.

And just like that, the illusions were shattered.

My will to hold it was no more.  That day, I used the public stall; partially because the shame I had brought upon myself now outweighed the disgust I had for public bathrooms, but more because I had lost the motivation to continue holding it in.  Now, self motivation was the driving force – and my self wanted me to… Well, you know.

Most people can motivate themselves to do things simply by knowing that those things need to be done.  But not me.  For me, motivation is this horrible, scary game where I try to make myself do something while I actively avoid doing it, like the dump that I brought upon myself but refused to take.  If I win, I have to do something I don’t want to do.  And if I lose, I’m one step closer to ruining my entire life.  But I never know whether I’m going to win or lose until the last second.

Cause let’s face it, when you do what you fear most, then you can do anything.

I guess what I’m getting at is this: self motivation is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal — no matter how you go about getting to it.  Some people have to let the world burn down before they’ll get up and do something about it, while others simply need to recognize that there’s a problem.  But the key to being at your best is to be all in.  And that goes double when trying to get others behind your cause.  Motivating people is great, but there’s a timer on motivation, and eventually it will all go down the toilet.  You have to find out what makes individuals tick; get interested in their lives, their goals, and then relate it to yourself.  Because really, you’re not there to motivate them, but instead to get them to be self motivated.

Like Eisenhower said:

“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”

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