Sunday, February 28, 2010

What Powers Your Internal Goal Engine? Is Positive Thinking Enough?

"If you will just believe it's true Then there is nothing you can't do. There's not a mountain that you can't climb. There's not a river you can't make it over. There's no tomorrow that you can't find-- if you try I know you're gonna make it... Nothing can stop you now!
Tillie the Little Engine: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!" from The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

In this classic children's book the main character is a little train engine built only for pulling a few cars on and off the switches, certainly not for large loads over rough terrain. As the story goes, a long line of cars with heavy cargo needs to get to the next station over a steep hill. The leader asks many of the large, powerful engines to pull them but they all decline because the job is too difficult. The little engine agrees, responding (and continually chanting) "I think I can..."

The theme of the story focuses on the power of positive thinking. While I am a big fan of thinking positively I believe it often requires more than an uplifted attitude to accomplish difficult tasks.

We are all driven by an internal engine. (This was recently pointed out in a marriage coaching class I'm taking...thanks Jeff Williams for the inspiration.) We have unique dreams, goals and desires. But what what fuels your engine? As you press forward making your way up the steep incline of obstacles and dream-killers, what keeps you going? Is positive thinking enough to continue the forward progress or do you rely on other factors?

My engine runs best on affirming words. When people I respect and care about tell me I'm doing well or that they appreciate my work, that's good for another few painful miles on my journey. Or when a stranger tells me I've touched them and made a difference in their life, I'm willing to suffer because I know I'm not doing it in vain. Momentum continues.

For some people necessity is the juice they need. Knowing that you won't have food or electricity can be hugely motivating to remain in a job you hate.

Here is a list of a few other power sources to fuel the internal engine:

Respect from others --Knowing that our effort brings respect from others makes a difference.

Respect for others --If we know we'll be letting a respected friend down, we may keep going a few miles further toward our destination.

Honoring God --When we believe our perseverance pleases God, it makes the way a little lighter.

Appreciation --A few words of genuine gratitude from a loved one can re-ignite our spark plugs.

Focusing on our final arrival --It sometimes helps to create a mental picture of what it will look like when we've reached out goal.

These energy sources may not be right to fuel your internal engine. It destroys a diesel engine to use gasoline. Double A batteries won't fit in a 9 volt slot. Each of us needs to discern the most effective and efficient fuel for our unique motor, then go about filling up. What keeps your engine running smoothly up hills and over bumpy roads?
Diane Markins


Joni Corby said...

I think this is a really good question to ask ourselves becuz we all have to keep on chuggin'. Seems like when I was younger, it didn't take much fuel to keep me going. Or the fuel that I did need seemed to last longer. These days it seems to take a variety of fuels to keep me going day after day. Sometimes I do just have to say to myself "You'll be fine", do the next thing and that works. Sometimes I need to "count my blessings, one by one" and thank my Heavenly Father for the breath that I have. Watching light bulbs come on overhead and seeing someone put into practice what they have learned thru the Word of God fuels my tank for those times when I am pounding my head against the computer as I study and prepare a Bible lesson and things just don't seem to be coming together and making sense. Today I am going to add the picture of the "Little Engine that Could" to my arsenal of ways to get up the hills in my life. Thanks for the great analogy!

Jeff and JIll Williams said...

Well said Diane. I appreciate you pointing out that we are each uniquely fueled/motivated according to design, passion, purpose, etc. While you said that I inspired you to think about and write this, I am learning and being challenged by your thoughts! Thank you for stewarding what God has put into you by amplifying that message in writing. by the way, when someone tells me that something I said/did made a difference in their life, that appreciation fuels my resolve to continue, so that you for doing that through your appreciation to me.

blessings, Jeff

Anonymous said...

Nicely put.
- Andy