Maintaining Motivation

Barrett loves what he does, but he does have days when he doesn't want to get out of bed and is deflated after work is done for the day. How does he keep his motivation going?

QUESTION: Barrett in Washington, D.C. is 27 and married with two kids. He loves what he does, but he does have days when he doesn’t want to get out of bed and is deflated after work is done for the day. How does he keep his motivation going? Dave explains how he keeps going.

ANSWER: The way I keep from internalizing my listeners’ problems is I got over my Messiah complex. I figure Jesus is Jesus’s job. I can’t fix everybody. I’ve got three minutes to help you with what little bit I do know, and I’ll help you with that or with a book or put you in one of our classes or some other way that I can help you, but past that, it’s not my job to fix your whole life. I’m just going to help you for the moment that we intersect. That’s God’s job. If I thought it was my job and I thought I was God, I would be completely overwhelmed by some of the pain and some of the craziness that I hear on this show. If I was responsible to fix all of it, I’d crawl in a hole somewhere, dude. I’m really glad it’s God’s job and not mine. When you do a lot of one-on-one counseling, it’s like walking through a spider web. Their crap gets all over you, and you don’t want to become dispassionate or psychotic about it where you don’t have feelings and you’re not wounded by hurting people, but on the other hand, you’ve got to learn to get that stuff off of you and take a shower. The way I do that, literally, is I decided it’s not up to me to fix all that. I can help a lot, and I do help a lot. But I don’t have to fix all of it.

I’m like everyone else. I get angry, and I get beat up. We get a great radio station in a great city and we have a lot of listenership and that kind of thing, and then the next day you lose one somewhere. A station decides to go Spanish-German hot talk or something. You never know what they’re going to do. There’s nothing I can control about that stuff, but it’s still deflating because you work your butt off and still get your teeth kicked in sometimes. That’s just anybody out there. Anytime you go to battle, you’re going to lose one every now and then. You’re going to take a wound every now and then.

How do you heal from those wounds? How do the wounds not become overwhelming? One is my faith. I do crawl in God’s lap and just whine sometimes. I think whining is a little-known form of prayer, by the way. I’m not afraid to do that. I’ve got a great wife and a place to vent and talk through stuff. If I whine too much, she doesn’t want that, either. These days, I’ve got a great team around me. The responsibility to lead them causes me to heal pretty quickly. I don’t know if that sounds right or not, but it’s just transparent. It’s just the truth. The truth is it’s messy. This success thing is not really always pretty.

People say, “I’d do anything to have a couple of New York Times best-selling books and a radio show in almost 500 cities. I’d do anything.” No, you probably wouldn’t. You probably wouldn’t go through all the crap I’ve gone through and work the hours I’ve worked. You probably wouldn’t fight it as hard as we’ve fought it. It’s been a 15-year fight, and now we’re an overnight success. It’s just not pretty. To get to be successful, there are days that suck, and when you are successful, there are days that suck. I think two or three days of despair a year is probably fair for any of us. I’m not sure I would’ve called it despair. I might have called it whining or I-just-don’t-feel-like-fighting-today. I got knocked down hard enough the wind’s knocked out of me, and I don’t want to get back up today. It doesn’t mean I’ve lost my passion for what I do. It just means I’ve got battle wounds. If that’s a passion thing, if you’re losing your passion, I don’t know exactly what to tell you about that. Is it people you work with causing that or is it battle wounds? If it’s battle wounds, then welcome to life. You’re going to fight some, and you’re going to get cut some and bruised some.