Question: When do I give up?


sisyfosNo, I am not quitting my job, I am not going to shut down my blog, and I am not ready to stop believing in the potential of humans. I meet a lot of people both at work and in other settings that are unmotivated and unhappy with their life/job situation. In my values I do believe that every single human being has the potential of greatness, at least to some degree. So it makes me sad to meet people I cannot help. So when do I give up? โ€“ I do not have the answer, and I hope you can help.

I am also wondering if this is my fault?
I am not able to motivate everybody, some people seems beyond salvation. Is there anything I can do differently? It hurts to give up on good people and I think I might just be wasting time one some. What should I look for in the beginning? Is it possible to motivate people that do not want to be motivated?

When I do give up
How should I proceed with my employee/client/friend to end the relationship in a good way? This is really haunting me as I have such a strong belief in human capacities.

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7 Comments on "Question: When do I give up?"

  1. Frode Heimen | October 29, 2009 at 5:38 pm |

    Hi Julie.
    What you are really saying is that I might have given them some tools to use later on? Maybe not with me, but in their next job, that might be more correct for them? I do believe that if you love your job, you will do a good job, or at least provide a good effort. So if this fails, it is an indicator of you having the wrong job?

    Hi Wally, I am happy to see you reading my blog, I do really enjoy yours. I do agree, I can not change lifes, but I can provide a good soil for good growth. But unlike plants that will grow, humans can chose to grow or not. It is like motivation. I can not motivate other people, I need to inspire them to see for themselves.

    To all: Thank you for all these comments, it is really helping! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I knew a speaker who had coffee cups inscribed on one side with “I am a professional speaker” and on the other with “I change lives.” That’s nonsense. If any changing gets done, it’s not us speakers and trainers and coaches and consultants who do it. We do not make it happen. We present analysis, resources and recommendations. We ask questions. But in the end it’s the person who has to decide to change and take action to change.

    We can work on doing a better job of analysis. We can develop the tools of presentation. What can’t do is motivate another person. That’s entirely up to them.

  3. Fode

    I agree with the previous comments about helping people move on positively and just wanted to add a couple more thoughts:

    Your strong faith in human potential and commitment to support the people around you is admirable and is likely to ensure you are providing the greatest opportunity for change.

    If you tie your own self worth or professional expertise to the results clients acheive you may suffer uneccessarily.

    Sometimes when people are not motivated we may just be doing enough to help them maintain the status quo. In other words they can take satisfaction in sharing their issues with us while not actually taking any action. It may be that the issue is not urgent or important enough yet or the timing not right but you may just have planted enough of a seed for the right time to arrive sooner.

    Thanks for your interesting post.

    Julie Kay

  4. Frode Heimen | October 28, 2009 at 8:58 pm |

    Hi Thank you for your comments.
    So the good thing would be to advice them to quit? And aid them in the hunt for a new job?

    @Joe: So deciding to drop a client or giving an employee an advice to find a new job is actually a step on the path to a happier life… Good.

    @Steve: Thank you for your advice.

    So actually just being honest and saying that this does not work, is the solution I am looking for? I for once do not like to disapoint or let someone down, but I might find it easier if I think of it as helping them to move on.

    Great! I am glad I asked ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you.


  5. Frode,

    These situations can be tough emotionally.

    I’m with Joe: You can only provide the atmosphere and standards–the other person is an adult who chooses to opt in or opt out (which sometimes means “just showing up”).

    When you reach the point that you’ve described, “help” really isn’t helpful unless it’s a candid discussion that things aren’t working out and that you are willing to “help” this person transition elsewhere as smoothly as possible.

  6. I don’t ever give up. Sometimes I determine that it is better for both, if we are free to explore other options. I am of the camp that does not feel that you can motivate anyone. You can only provide the atmosphere that allows them to motivate themselves.
    Remember that sometimes guiding them in a new direction is ultimately going to make them happier.

  7. I don’t think it is physically or emotionally possible to motivate people who do not want to be motivated. That is like trying to sell hamburger meat to a vegetarian. It forces you to push harder and try to force something into place…but it doesn’t fit.

    People who want motivation and are open to the message are going to use your information and you are going to be a better coach because you will be enthused by their passion. I always say…pick and choose your audience wisely. Choose people who appreciate what you offer

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