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By Grahak Cunningham.

Whether you are a manager, business owner or employee, everyone wants to have a good day at work. This article aims to look at some ways to motivate yourself and/or your staff and how to avoid the opposite.

Motivational Quote
Motivating staff means developing friendship and positivity at work. Photo by Prabhakar Street

What prevents us from having a great day

Most of us have a position of employment which involves being repetitive on some scale. Regular work place, regular work hours and regular repetition of the same tasks. Without the right mindset, it is a simple recipe for losing satisfaction, motivation and fulfillment in a workplace, either yourself or your staff. If you’ve noticed it, you might be looking for a change. If it’s your boss who has noticed, he or she might be looking for another staff member.

So what is a solution? Changing jobs will often put you in the same situation – just at a different desk – and if your boss doesn’t want to waste unnecessary recruitment and training fees, changing employees isn’t always the right solution either.

Motivation in Monotony

As far as monotony goes, I experienced a lot of it in the 3100 mile race. Let’s face it, running around the same New York city block for 18 hours a day for over 50 days isn’t conducive to variety. Still, I stayed happy, positive and focused. On on the odd occasion when I was down and depressed, time dragged by. I would watch the clock, praying for the day to end.

Sound familiar? I find myself doing the same thing in work situations I don’t enjoy. When it happened in the race, my speed slowed and self-pity overwhelmed me. Rather than being meaningless physical nuisances, my injuries became a source of immense frustration. I would wonder… Why did I enter this race? Why am I out here? What is the point of putting myself through this agony? Which in relation to a work environment equates to: What am I doing here? Today is going so slowly. I can’t get through all this work?

There is a well known story about a famous Indian writer called Rabindranath Tagore. A prolific poet and composer, in 1913 he became the first Asian to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. But even Tagore suffered from writer’s block. During a particularly dry spell, he departed his home and headed to the Himalayas for inspiration.

The majesty of the tall peaks and the snow-capped mountains failed to rouse the poet and his writer’s block continued. After many days he had a realisation: outer circumstances weren’t going to inspire him, creativity had to come from his own spontaneity. Tagore returned home to Calcutta and his muse soon returned.

You will find a lot of your own and your fellow workmates’ happiness and motivation comes from outlook, mindset and inspiration in the workplace. I have to say, when I am running long distances, for the overwhelming majority of the time I am really happy. If I can remain happy whilst physically pushing myself, it can’t be that hard to be happy in other situations!

Motivational Exercises

Below are some exercises you can try. Some you can do in a team environment, some on a personal level.

  • Get up on the right side of bed: kill any negative thinking about your workplace or going to work. Try and look forward to it.
  • See the positive side of yours and others’ positions: Are you serving people? Are you selling or producing something positive? Are you working to visit somewhere you have always wanted to travel or to purchase something you would really love? Find some small simple thing that your work does that is positive and focus on that.
  • Add some color to your life: improve your desk space or work place environment with renovations, uplifting pictures, and plant or floral displays.
  • Learn more about your workmates. Listen to them and communicate with them more. Try this: set people in groups of two facing each other. They can talk to each other for 3 minutes about anything. Then have them sit back to back. The questioner of the two is allowed to ask a mixture of questions about their appearance and what was discussed, for example: What is the color of my eyes? Am I wearing a watch? What was my birthday? This exercise improves motivation of staff, communication and team building.
  • Establish a work/life balance: Often goals we set outside of our jobs can help us stay motivated in our workplace and often enough our jobs finance them!
Avatar photo

Australian motivational speaker Grahak Cunningham is an ordinary Australian who dared to dream. Challenging himself to go beyond what he thought was possible, he knows we can accomplish anything and stay happy and positive even in the most trying of times.

He is a four-time finisher of the world's longest certified foot race and ultra marathon: the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race.

Founded in 1997 the 3100 Mile Race is held every year on a concrete footpath around an 883 metre block in Queens, New York.

Runners are given 18 hours a day, from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, for 51 days, to run a minimum of 60 miles a day (96km) to complete the distance. This involves circumnavigating the block 5649 times.

Over the duration of the race, runners wear out fifteen pairs of shoes, and their feet swell an extra two sizes. In a typical New York summer, temperatures can reach 40 degrees centigrade with 85% humidity. Competitors must contend with boredom, fatigue, torrential deluges, extreme pain, injuries and sleep deprivation—but most of all, they have to deal with themselves. Outwardly for their efforts they will receive a plastic trophy and a t-shirt but they make a lifetime of progress.

He works as a conference keynote speaker from his base of Perth and enjoys traveling (by plane not foot.)

For more information, please visit

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