The cornerstone of a garbageman’s work is his route. Every day, as he drives his truck through streets and alleys, he learns the subtleties of his journey: where to make right turns, what times are better than others, how to nudge the truck through traffic. While he has a goal—get all the trash picked up by the end of the day—he also knows that the journey is just as important. In fact, the more he understands his route, the better are his chances that he’ll achieve his goal.

That leads to an interesting question. How can we find the fire in our belly day after day so we can stay on our own route? When we hit life’s inevitable roadblocks and it feels like everything is conspiring against us, how can we generate the motivation we need in order to pick up and move on? Every day, we come across very enticing opportunities: an idea, a beautiful man or woman across the room, a way to invest our money or our time. If we have no desire because our subconscious has pushed us on a non-productive side trip, that opportunity will look flat and gray and will definitely pass us by. The more workshops we teach and the more clients we coach, the more convinced we are that the key to limitless motivation is to act like a garbageman: Shift your focus from the goal to the route.

Every day that you live, you’re moving further along your route. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve mapped out a destination for yourself or you feel like you’re wandering aimlessly. If you look closely, you’re in a different place than you were yesterday. Today, you learned a little more, picked up more experience, increased your abilities, and inched your knowledge and maturity a little further forward. If you look at the route your life has taken in the past ten or twenty or thirty years, you may have picked up a spouse or a new profession or a devotion to a cause or a religion. Like the garbageman starting a new route, the beginning might have been a little rough. You made mistakes and ran inefficiently. However, as the landscape gradually became more familiar, your confidence grew and you found yourself honing and refining your route until it felt effortless and second nature to you.

What’s behind that “settling down” process? We believe that it’s throwing out the garbage thoughts, belief, and opinions (“TBOs”) that your subconscious hurls at you every day. Think about it. If the garbageman proclaimed that he was going to finish his route, but silently fed himself a steady diet of, “You’re a lousy driver,” do you think he’d improve his route? Of course not! Where’s the motivation? It’s totally normal to doubt ourselves when we start something new. Our fear of failure, combined ample evidence from past stumbles and mistakes, gives us lots of ways to beat ourselves up at the beginning of a new path. However, look through history at the extraordinary achievers and their secret to success is being aware of all that negative trash in their minds, making the choice not to listen to it, and then tossing it out of their way and plowing ahead in spite of their fear.

That leads us to the true source of motivation: the realization that you will make progress, regardless of what happens to you along the way. When you accept that potholes and flat tires are inevitable and that despite it all, you’re still further ahead than you were a day ago, you’ll start tapping into a limitless source of inspiration that can get you through the toughest times and the darkest of days. You create that acceptance by shutting down those negative thoughts, beliefs, and opinions that stream 24/7 from your subconscious. We’re not talking about “positive thinking.” This is far more powerful than that. It’s clearing out the negative trash that’s weighing down your mind; being absolutely intolerant of the negativity that our subconscious loves to dish out. Just like the garbageman who makes it through his route despite a blinding snowstorm or horrendous traffic, you’ll discover that you have the same strength and fortitude to make it through your own route. Give yourself a high five. It takes courage to toss that trash!

There’s a fun, old saying that goes something like this: “As you ramble on through life, my friend, whatever be your goal: Keep your eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole.” That’s great advice. Don’t succumb to the garbage that pulls you into the black hole of resignation. See it for what it is: trash that has no place in your life and in your organization. Be your own garbageman and throw that burden out. You don’t need it, you don’t deserve it, and you will be so much better off without it.

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