Something Bigger To Believe In

When I got to speak to the marine spouses at Camp LeJeune, I had the honor of staying at the Brigadier General's house. What an honor! And what an extreme hardship, trying to be on my best behavior for that long. (He told me the bow was not necessary.)

Later he and I were talking about me being a motivational speaker, and I asked him this question:

My husband and I have this ongoing discussion (argument) about whether people can be motivated. My husband believes in the old adage that you can't motivate people – you need to get the right people on the bus. While I understand that, I can't help but think that some people can be motivated. And I think the military proves this. I know people who went into the military one way, and came out another. Your people are definitely motivated. So which is it? Get the right people to begin with, or can they  be motivated? And if they can be motivated – how?

Here was the General's reply:

Yes, people can be motivated. It's not simple, and it doesn't happen in one step, but a series of strategic repeated steps. But they can be motivated. You just have to give them something to believe in bigger than themselves.


I don't think it's the military alone where this plays out. I think there are examples throughout our world and throughout history where people became motivated over a common goal or vision. So while some might not ever get motivated from an outside force, many can, and will be, if given something bigger to believe in.

And so I challenge you to look at your work and even your life as more than a job description or a line item on an application. I challenge you to rewrite that story to be much bigger than the job itself. Give yourself something bigger to believe in. Type it up and hang it where you can see it often and be reminded that you serve something bigger than the task at hand.

And who knows, you just might find yourself happier at work.



Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson - called one of North Carolina's funniest women by Our State Magazine. Kelly lifts the spirits of audiences from coast-to-coast using humor, storytelling, and lives of the characters from Prides Hollow - Kelly's make believe small town. This unique approach to motivational speaking allows Kelly to break through communications barriers and connect directly to the audience's imagination.
Her powerful stories and wacky wit will make you laugh, remind you that you matter, show you how to see beyond your obstacles, and teach you how to stand up and stick out in a crowded market.
To book motivational speaker Kelly Swanson:
Motivational speaker Kelly Swanson's website

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  1. What a great reminder! First of all – that professional motivational speakers are not the only ones who know a little about motivation! We should turn to the people who actually DO it day after day! GREAT article, Kelly! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Great perspective for the health and wellness topics I speak on Kelly!  The something bigger than themselves might be staying healthy for their family or a higher power perhaps. Keeping our bodies and minds clear allows us to receive positive messages, so to speak.  Awesome post!!

  3. Great challenge, Kelly, and I love the General's message — especially his words "series of strategic repeated steps". Both the belief and steps are a huge part of staying motivated which is why individuals like you, and other motivational speakers who provide both will continue to be relevant.

  4. Oh Kelly, I am totally with you on that "best behavior" challenge – well done!

    And I am in love with your idea to look for the Something Bigger in our work – this is a really big idea.    I feel that it is along the lines of "my why" and I am deep into that seach right now, and feeling stuck-ish.  You have now given me another way to look at this – Thank you!

  5. We were talking about this subject in a small meeting in my company the other day. It was with the CEO and a few employees who showed up to talk about things in general. It came up, "How do you motivate people to change the culture?" And we concluded that it's all about the training, about getting people in the room and talking to them and with them. And this CEO is amazing at it. He held a quarterly all-staff meeting last week and began with a passionate defense of the First Amendment rights as seen by Thomas Jefferson. It was inspiring to know that our boss is so inspired by what we do, working at a newspaper.

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