Motivation: is your arse on fire?

I don't mean that headline literally - though you should probably check. I'm talking about motivation, and the concept that we only really act with our full power when we really have to - when our arse is on fire.

The phrase comes from a book by George Mumford called The Mindful Athlete ( - having taught mindfulness to multiple championship-winning NBA teams, Mumford knows plenty about performance under pressure.

I haven't won any NBA championships, and I grudgingly admit that maybe my chance to do so has passed, but I have experienced combustion of the derriere.

After five years in the Police, I came to a point where I realised my mental and emotional health was fast approaching breaking point. The working environment hadn't been great for a while, but I muddled along quietly getting on with it because, I told myself, it could be worse. Maybe it'll improve soon. I'll just keep my head down, moan about it, do what I can, I'm OK, know what I'm doing - I'm still fairly comfortable. No need to act too hastily. Sound familiar?

However, it soon became clear that I wasn't OK. Moreover, I finally understood from seeing others leave, and seeing what had happened to some who stayed, that the only way things were going to change was if I changed them. I had to take the action. Once I had made this fundamental change in mindset, it seemed so obvious that I only had one option - I handed in my resignation the next morning.

I'm not suggesting that the right decision is always to walk away from stressful situations - sometimes the action required might be fight rather than flight. I'm highlighting that we often wait for a stimulus so huge and clear that it makes the decision for us. This is usually because of fear of the unknown, fear of making a leap of faith. Making that leap requires you to accept that you are going to be unsure, you're going to be stepping outside your comfort zone and only you will be responsible for the consequences.

On the flip side, you also realise that in making such a leap, you control your fate and therefore your success, health, happiness. Think about the times you've learnt the most, grown the most, developed the most and ultimately achieved the most - I'm willing to bet that they came from the fire. So believe in yourself, and if you want something to change then create your own fire and make it happen!

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