Ask the Life Coach: Motivation – The Achilles Heel of Success

Ask The Life Coach: En Route to Happiness

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend doing it daily.” ─Zig Zigler

 I thought I found the perfect quote to inspire and engage summer students at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who attended my seminar about life coaching. To say their reaction was lukewarm would be an understatement. They did not laugh. They did not disagree.

 It occurred to me I must have hit a nerve as most of them admitted that motivation is their Achilles heel. They often lose focus and zeal to pursue their goals.

Shortly after my seminar, a reader posted a question for my column: “What do you do if your kids are not motivated and do not want to take their parents advice?”

And so, from parents to their kids and on to young adults we complete the circle where everyone is at a loss when it comes to dealing with motivation.

It is old news: we all suffer from lack of motivation from time to time, but the good news is that it is a skill that can be learned.

There is a saying, You give and you give them books and all they do is chew on the covers.”  

Motivation shapes our vision of the world. Motivation is an engine that drives change. Motivation will beat mere talent. We learn and perform to the degree we are motivated. Opportunities will present themselves in life and it’s crucial to recognize them and get motivated just in time.

In life coaching, motivation is an important tool. As a life coach, I engage with clients in an interview-style conversation and in the process, help them identify and create new possibilities and become increasingly motivated to achieve their goal.

Here is how it works.

The way to success starts with creating a possibility in life. It is not a mere step from A to B. Creating a possibility is creating a bigger picture. It is starting your journey from where you are NOT and working your way towards your goal.

For the sake of illustration let’s turn to history. The Pilgrims ran from religious prosecution. They created a possibility of a life on new continent. Christopher Columbus created a possibility of sailing across the ocean. In 1943 in Los Alamos, scientists created a possibility of designing a new weapon. None of them were certain about the outcome, but each established clear goals.

Now let’s apply it to your child.

First of all, you need to improve your communication to build a mutual trust. Then start the conversation about your children’s desires, dreams and personal values. Your empathy and engagement as well as acceptance are necessary in the process. Let the child express him or herself and let them hear themselves speak.

Direct their thoughts by asking the following questions: “Where would you like to see yourself in four years?” (It helps to set the time frame.) “What personal goals do you have and would like to achieve?” How will it change your life and the life those around you?”

Keep asking questions and mentally register the answers until your child sees a clear possibility for their future.

Then, distill why they want to pursue this particular goal. The “why” is their inner motivation and focus needs to stay on the “why.”

The Pilgrims seek the life on a new continent. WHY: because they seek religious freedom. Columbus sails the Atlantic. WHY: to discover new land and seek fame. Scientists in Los Alamos work on a new weapon. WHY: to help win a war. Did you notice how strong the “Why” is in every case?

When we know “Why” … the “How” will come, always.

“Why it is important to you to reach the goal? Why do you think it will change your life? Why do you want to do this specific project?” 

Here is a real life illustration. The 10-year-old son of my friend created the possibility of becoming a winner in the New Mexico State Piano Competition. He is highly motivated to practice the piano every day.

This seemingly simple technique is a very powerful tool for parents who want to teach their kids how to stay motivated. Kids will learn from their parents and, hopefully, by the time they are on their own, like the young adults at my seminar, motivation for them will become a well-trained muscle.

Good luck!

I invite the readers of the Los Alamos Daily Post to ask questions about what is holding them back, or difficulties finding the right path, or managing their time. Are you entangled in relationships or is your boss unbearable?

I will answer you questions using Life Coach Methods, meaning there will not be advice, there will be a guiding question and guidance. Ultimately you will do the thinking, and look for the right answer. I am a medical professional with 23 years of experience in the field of diagnostic radiology. My close relationships with patients inspired me to become a Life Coach.

Life Coach Yelena Gurvits offers private consultations and can be reached at 412-0295 or

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