Motivation - so you think you've got problems? - Business Works
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Motivation - so you think you've got problems?

Philipptines Paralympic team (c) Philippines Embassy
Ambassador to UK Enrique Manalo, Reynaldo Catapang,
Deputy Chief of Mission and other Embassy officials with the
Philippine Paralympic Team at the Athletes Village.
We have all woken in the morning with a bit of a headache or feeling a little de-motivated. The challenge we all have for ourselves and others with whom we work and interact is to keep our enthusiasm and motivation going so we achieve more of our true potential.

Many pundits have jumped on the Olympic bandwagon to proffer their words of advice and wisdom. We decided to ask some Olympians themselves about motivation, the challenges, the rewards and the transferable skills they have that might benefit us all - particularly leaders and managers.

I guess most of us watched at least some of the fantastic sports people during the Olympics and looked on in awe at how they achieve so much. Training for hours each day for the 'event' to be over in seconds - literally in some cases! Years of preparation, hard work, motivation, hard slog, guts and perseverance.

The Paralympics have just finished and the athletes taking part, if it is at all possible, are even more awe inspiring.

Paralymic logo - picture (c) J Prentis

Roger talked to Gerardo ('Ral') Rosario, Chef de Mission of the Philippines Paralympic squad, Carlos ('Butch') Weber, Head of the Philippine Delegation to the London Paralympic Games, Michael ('Mike') Barredo, President of IBSA (the International Blind Sport Association) and other team members. for their personal reflections and experiences.

The Philippines started its Paralymic involvement under President Ramos with the 'Sports for all' programme and we had our first team in the 2000 games. This year we have nine athletes taking part.

Of course, one of our biggest challenges is funding. Training any athletes costs a lot and for Paralympians the cost is even higher. Also, oddly, in the Philippines the law doesn't recognise disabled athletes in the same way as the able bodied. We are working on changing this situation, of course - an athlete is an athlete!

The response from the British public has been just fantastic and the crowds are wonderful. You expect the 'big things' to be good - the organisation, the venues, the facilities - but it is the 'small things' that make all the difference.

The crowd support has been truly magnificent. In past games, there has been a big opening ceremony and a lot of interest at the start, but as days go on, the numbers in the audience and the enthusiasm declines. Here it is the opposite. Every day we go to the venues, the crowds are bigger and more enthusiastic. The Games Makers - the wonderful volunteers that have made everyone so welcome - have been professional and helped make the Games such a success, along with the security and other officials.

The reaction of the British public has been extraordinary. People are so positive and we feel that attitudes towards disabled people have changed even in these few weeks.

Motivation is critical, like in every aspect of life. For the Paralympians, just waking up in the morning and doing the everyday things is a challenge. Olympians have many challenges - motivation, a rigorous training regime, finding funding in many cases and fitting their sports into a 'normal life' of work and family. You can imagine the extra challenges for the Paralympians.

Paralympic wheelchair basketball - picture (c) J Prentis

In an odd way, motivation for Paralympians is a little easier as they are used to the challenges of everyday life and having to overcome them. They are used to more pain and bigger problems and often just want more. Self-motivation is the answer. The coaches and trainers can all help with technique and other aspects, but if the person isn't motivated, then they will not achieve anything like their potential. In their training, they are not treated any differently from other athletes. There is no special consideration given to them - they train as hard, if not harder.

Support is a bigger issue in many cases. In terms of their training - many schools in the Philippines and in many countries do not have facilities for disabled people and, in some cases, probably discourage them from attending. Even those that have disabled students usually don't have the additional support and programmes to help them. This means that in education, the foundation of life and work, they are already at a disadvantage.

We need to continuously change attitudes in society, with politicians, with business leaders, with everyone. When Stephen Lillie, the UK Ambassador in Manila, saw us off, he said that we must continuously evoke changing attitudes.

Of course, the Paralympians have a very positive attitude and are hugely motivated, but getting others, whether able-bodied or not, into a similar frame of mind is a challenge. The media certainly have a big role to play in that. Showing things like the Olympics and Paralympics and what people are achieving gives everyone the vision to think they can do it too. Of course, for less-able people, that is a huge boost. To see people in wheelchairs, with sight problems or other issues achieving such wonderful things is fantastic. It also helps people with no disability overcome their fears and ignorance and shows them that these people are just differently-abled, rather than disabled.

It is also very important for parents of disabled children. There is a natural tendency to want to protect or over protect them. Some even want to hide them away. Watching the Paralympics being broadcast all over the world has a very positive effect. If it could be broadcast even more widely, it would be even better - of course, the cost of the broadcasting rights is huge, so that discourages more publicity. The more we broadcast it, the more we show people, the more we can help people change their attitudes.

In terms of transferable skills, whether to able-bodied athletes or to leaders or people in general, the dedication and hard work of the Paralympic athletes is an inspiration. For sure, they have to work a lot harder than others - probably twice as hard as others - and now we are seeing the gap between the abled and disabled closing, that just means that they are working three times as hard.

Of course, the stress and pressure on the Paralympians is therefore far greater, but we realise that we have a responsibility to our team, to our country and to all disabled people. A responsibility to work that extra 100%, to achieve, not to give up. All athletes are role models, but the Paralympians have that very special extra accountability to show everyone what can be done.

Pearly King Wenlock

The bottom line is that, if you want to achieve, if you want to succeed, you have to work hard, be dedicated and motivated. That applies to all athletes, to leaders and, of course, even more to disabled athletes.

As Lord Sebastian Coe said at the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, "We'll never think of sport in the same way. We'll never think of disability in the same way. The Paralympics have lifted the cloud of limitations."

"All this came about because of sport and sport is the greatest thing. It doesn't discriminate, if you work hard, you'll get something out of it," said Ade Adepitan, UK wheelchair basketball player, medal winner and TV commentator. "What it ultimately does is give you hope and hope gives you belief and when you have belief anything is possible."

"What's important is the legacy of attitude," concluded Clare Balding. "In the coming weeks, months, years this will only mean something if it has changed the way you think and the way you feel. We've seen what the human body is capable of. Now it's the turn of the human brain. The possibilities are infinite, this is not the end, this is just the beginning."

If that doesn't tell us something about motivation, then it is difficult to think of what might - let's all be motivated, give our best and find no excuses!

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