We often at the new year make new resolutions which for many last about a week or two if we are lucky. My resolution has been to get fitter and so on a recent visit to the gym, I got into the rigorous exercises that my trainer put me through.
Up on the wall was a TV of a muscle bound man pushing colossal weights as I struggled with something much more modest. I wondered to myself “how can he do that? It looks so exhausting and painful”, the man’s face a picture of straining and grimacing under the load.
For him it was not so much a chore as a pleasure to push himself to the limit.
Conversely, a friend of mine has just started learning the piano. After only 8 lessons, the sounds of Beethoven and Mozart are wafting from the living room where the piano sits. How is this possible, that after such a short period, there is evidence of extraordinary progress?
Well in both of these cases, what has brought about the success in both bodybuilding and in producing music, has been what is called the ‘internalisation of motivation’ (Matthew Syed – Bounce). What this means that rather than hard work with a desired outcome being seen as a chore, a difficulty or irritation, the challenge and the goal of success has become the goal in itself. Where motivation is internalised, the effort to practice or apply oneself is not seen as gruelling but as fun. Tiger Woods, the brilliant golfer said: “my father never asked me to play golf. I asked him”. Serena Williams, the ladies tennis player, said: “It felt like a blessing to practice tennis because we had so much fun.” Look at her stats – Grand Slam Singles: 26 finals (21 titles, 5 runners-up); Women's doubles: 13 finals (13 titles); Mixed doubles: 4 finals (2 titles, 2 runners-up).
The internalisation of motivation is a powerful thing. What will our students achieve with the right motivation for success? Achieving not because teachers or parents say so, but because they have decided to make a difference to and for themselves. Because they desire it: pure and simple.
In this regard, it could be on the sports’ field, in musical ability, in academic success with IGCSEs just round the corner for our Year 11s, in developing spoken or written English ability, in charity and community service…the field does not matter. What matters is that we all might seek to internalise a deep seated motivation to excel in our chosen area with a goal in mind to better ourselves and to improve the lives of those around us.
I wish you a very happy and restful weekend.
Mr Mark Sayer - Principal of BVIS Hanoi