New thinking

Tomorrow I will do better

Do you find it difficult to get motivated sometimes?
Are there days when even routine tasks are a struggle? 

For many of us, finding the motivation to do our jobs well, or even at all, has been harder than ever during the pandemic, especially for those people working in isolation.

Feeling demotivated can happen at any time, with varying degrees of intensity. Sometimes it can be debilitating.

So, how do we get back on track when our motivation wanes?

Paralympic gold medallist Naomi Riches MBE, says the first thing to understand for anyone having a bad day is that being demotivated is normal and it happens to us all sometimes. “It’s ok to be demotivated but it’s not ok to give yourself a hard time about it,” says the multiple gold medal-winning rower and successful motivational speaker.

Recognise self-worth

Naomi has been registered blind since she was a baby and suffered serious injuries in a road traffic accident in her early 20s, but she refuses to let her visual impairment and subsequent mental and physical setbacks stop her from achieving her dreams.

Bullied in school and largely ignored by teachers as the only disabled person in a mainstream school of 800, she was determined to demonstrate her worth. Naomi was always an active child but only started rowing in 2004, joining Great Britain’s Adaptive Rowing Team. But after competing in her first World Championship she suffered multiple skull fractures and broken ribs in a road accident and spent a week in an induced coma.

Through sheer willpower, she fought back to win multiple gold medals at World and Paralympic level, before setting a new Guinness World Record for rowing the 165-mile navigable Thames in under 48 hours. She is now helping other people achieve their goals, including  one of my clients,  Graeme Gordon, CEO of Praxity Global Alliance.

Understand your role

Naomi says, the first thing a person needs to understand, to help find the motivation to achieve a goal, be it a gold medal, a charity row, or getting out of bed to do an audit, is the same for everyone regardless of the scale of the challenge. “I think one of the key things that people need to do every day, whether you are an accountant, a plumber or a sales person, is to understand what the purpose of your role is. What is the reason for doing a job or task? Understanding this is motivation in itself,” she explains.

“It’s important to understand and accept your own strengths and limitations within our roles. We are not all able to do everything to the same high standard after all. Never be too proud to ask for support. Who has the skills that you might not be so good at? Work with them as you may be able to support them in return.”

Naomi works with individuals and teams in businesses to be more motivated to achieve their goals and she says a key aspect is feeling part of a team. She adds: “We are much more social animals than we realise, even those quieter people in the team or those who keep themselves to themselves. Just having people around – and the energy of people – is important. But it’s also important to understand that your boss or colleague might be motivated in a different way… so why not take the time to find out?”

Overcome dark moments

Commenting on the difficulties many people have had with staying motivated during the pandemic, she says: “Over the last 12 months, there have been some dark times for people, including myself. I was furloughed and then I got made redundant. You have to say to yourself, ‘even though I have not achieved anything much today, tomorrow I will make a plan, starting with the small, easier tasks. As long as you are meeting your deadlines, it doesn’t matter if you have a bad day. It’s ok.”

To get through the darkest days of the pandemic, Naomi says she decided to get rowing again, change career direction, and have a regular change of scenery, adding: “Going to the local park and being outside has kept me sane. For a lot of the lockdown, we were not allowed to actually meet with people but sitting under a tree and observing my surroundings, dog walkers, other families playing together was a joy.”

Having decided to focus on motivational speaking and personal development coaching, Naomi is now part of a team of specialist trainers and coaches helping Graeme Gordon prepare for his ‘Source to City’ charity challenge in June – a half marathon run, a 20-mile bike ride and then a 150-mile row along the River Thames from its source to the City of London, finishing under Tower Bridge.

Keep things simple

Commenting on how the team is helping Graeme ready himself for the challenge, she says: “It’s about trying to keep things simple, from the balance of the boat to the timing of the limbs. Graeme is very fit and healthy, so it’s making sure he can row without thinking. We are breaking the rowing stroke down into the simple elements so that it becomes second nature and having floats attached to the riggers on the boat means he won’t have to worry too much about balance.”

Graeme points out that this is essential in the tidal reaches of the Thames, with both pleasure and commercial craft passing. The team have thus developed a rowing training programme and they are also helping Graeme navigate challenging locks and other traffic on the river. Part of motivation is learning to enjoy the moment, and this is particular true for Graeme’s charity row. “Seeing the river from the water rather than the bank is just brilliant. There are so many things you do not notice normally that you see from the water. It can be stunning in the early morning mist.”

Motivation and collaboration

Graeme, who lives in the same town as Naomi, has undertaken the challenge to support various charities including Marlow RowAbility, a rowing initiative to redevelop the land outside Marlow Rowing Club. The inside of the club is state of the art, but outside has not been touched for years and needs to be safer and more accessible, this will allow rowers of all ages, abilities and disabilities to get out onto the Thames and enjoy their sport.

Commenting on her decision to lend her support, Naomi says: “It was partly because it’s an amazing challenge and partly because Graeme is giving us some help. Also, David Jackson, who is Graeme’s lead rowing coach, was project manager for my own Thames row so he fully understands what Graeme can expect from the challenge…blisters n’all.” It appears motivation is contagious, especially within Praxity, where collaboration is so important to success. “Graeme is so determined and so driven, and above anything else, that is why we wanted to support him; he has galvanised us into action. I have every confidence he is going to complete the challenge. It is going to be painful both mentally and physically at times, but he is prepared for that. Graeme has his charity reasons for completing this and that in itself is a huge motivating factor. He absolutely will get to that finish line.”

I originally wrote this article for Praxity Global Alliance, the world’s largest alliance of independent accounting and consulting firms. I have updated it for my website.