Self-motivation - An Interview With
Dr. Alan Zimmerman
by Jim Meisenheimer
Here are the seven questions, about self-motivation, I
asked Dr. Alan Zimmerman and his responses to them.
1. How did you become an expert on the subject
Even though I have a Bachelor’s, Master’s,
and Doctoral degree, my real education came outside the classroom. I soon learned
when I got into the world of business that too much of my “formal”
education was theoretical in nature, and too many of my professors had never
been employed in the “real” world. They were content with their
book knowledge, but I was passionate about discovering what works and doesn’t
work in the area of motivation.
So I began my own course of study. I attended dozens of
workshops and read every book on self-motivation I could find. Over time,
I got smart enough to know what information and which skills were solid gold
and which ones were pure garbage.
And even though I’ve spent 25 years teaching people
how to motivate themselves and motivate others, I still go to workshops and
I keep on reading to make sure I know the latest and best in my field.
2. How do you define self-motivation?
Self-motivation is the power to get yourself to do what
you need to do … even though you don’t want to do it. It involves
a combination of attitude, energy, and discipline … all of which can be
Unfortunately, too many people wait until they “feel”
like doing something before they take the actions that will result in their
success. And to make matters worse, they’ll even say, “I can’t
help the way I feel.”
I tell my audiences, “Yes, you can. You can take
control of your feelings, but it’s not always necessary.” After
all, self-motivation is all about motion, not emotion.
3. Based on your observations and experience what
% of the American workforce is really self-motivated?
About 25%. The other 75% wait until they’re told
what to do or a crisis gets them going.
But let me clarify. I don’t want to sound too harsh.
The 75% that are not self-motivated are not necessarily lazy, irresponsible,
or incompetent people. They’re simply ignorant or misinformed. Some of
them don’t know “how” to motivate themselves, and the other
ones think it’s someone else’s job to motivate them.
4. Is there some kind of litmus test that someone
could use to determine if he is a self-motivated person?
I would ask a person to think about his/her overall approach
to life and work. Is he/she more of an “actor” or a “reactor?”
If you’re an “actor” who decides what has to be done to be
successful in any given situation, if you then take charge and do those things,
you’re a self-motivated individual.
But if you’re a “reactor” who waits
for the pressures of life before you take any action, you’re not all that
self-motivated. You’ve got some learning to do.
5. How can you motivate someone to become self-motivated?
It all comes down to education.
First, I have to teach people that self-motivation is
Second, I have to show what they stand to gain if they
become self-motivated people.
And third, I have to show them “how” to do
it. In other words, I have to give them some quick and easy skills that bring
almost instant rewards.
6. What are some of the tips you can recommend
if people want to maintain a high level of self-motivation?
Well, we could spend an hour, three hours, or even a whole
day answering that question, and I do exactly that in my keynotes and seminars.
But to get your readers started, let me suggest the following.
A. Eliminate negative self-talk.
Stop telling yourself “I can’t do that …. I’ll never
amount to anything … or … I’m the victim of circumstances.”
Negative self-talk destroys self-motivation.
B. Tell yourself positive
affirmations. Start telling yourself “I like myself … I can do it
… I believe in myself … I’m a winner” and a hundred
other variations of those sentences. With enough repetition, you will become
what you tell yourself.
C. Use the “act-as-if”
principle. If you act as if you’re enthusiastic, you’ll soon find
yourself being enthusiastic.
D. Survey your strengths.
People who lack self-motivation tend to be keenly aware of their faults and
failures. And to some extent that’s okay. But if you want a lot more self-motivation,
list all your strengths, talents, gifts, and abilities. Write down 50, 100 or
200 of them. The more aware you are of your strengths, the more motivation you’ll
7. How do you work with businesses and organizations
to help their people to become more self-motivated?
Even though people tend to call me a “motivational
speaker,” I’m really more of an educator. To me, it’s not
good enough to get people excited for an hour or a day. I want people to know
exactly what they can do to get the results they want … on and off the
job … today, tomorrow, and for the rest of their future.
So businesses and organizations hire me to speak to their
leaders, their managers, and their employees through keynote speeches and educational
seminars. And then they often give their people copies of my books and audio
CDs to reinforce what they learned.
About Alan Zimmerman
I’m one of only 9 people in the world to hold a
Ph.D., the CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), and the CPAE (Speaker Hall
of Fame). In the last 25 years I’ve give more than 2000 programs in 48
states and 22 countries, maintaining a 92% repeat and referral business.
You see … with 6 different programs, all of which
get amazingly good results, I’m usually invited back to teach people more
of what they want to learn about attitudes, leadership, communication, and work
I'd like to invite people to go to my web site which is
find a lot more information about me and my programs as well as several free
resources, like my weekly Internet newsletter called “Dr. Zimmerman’s
Finally, Alan - how can people contact you?
There are two ways, Jim.
People can e-mail me (Alan@DrZimmerman.com)
call me (1-800-621-7881).
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