Reluctantly, I showed up on Saturday to this “retreat.” It was an invitation from a friend and I’d been asked half a dozen times to participate over the years. In a moment of weakness I said yes. It was one of those where they take your watch and hide the clocks so you are all in and present.

It was awesome.

Throughout the weekend as I reflected on my life, family, business, health, finances, friends, and outlook on life, I came to a funny realization.

I had the wrong motives.

Motivation and incentives are powerful drivers in our lives. I’d been motivated by the American dream, what I thought were the expectations people had for me and I about myself. My incentives were pretty simple: money, stuff, power.

That’s seems crass as I write it yet that’s the unveiled truth. I had all sorts of bias around why I wanted those things. I used the platitudes that I wanted to provide for my family, build a lasting company, a legacy, and reach the goals I set. All that was true.

It was also true that I wasn’t treating myself, family, employees, and friends in a way that honored them because of the goals I’d set. I wasn’t a bad husband, leader, or friend. Our family was “happy”, our company was thriving, and we hung out with friends.

Yet, something was missing.

I realized my motives were out of wack.

That was six years ago.

All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.
Proverbs 16:2-3

Focusing on money, stuff, power created a leadership and living style that worked, but did not fulfill. The funny thing was that in order to get into alignment with what I wanted to value, I didn’t need to make a huge shift. I actually would keep a lot of who I was and what I was doing intact. It was  my why I was doing that shifted. Along with shifting my why came new behaviors that were just that, new, but not awkward.

The biggest things I started wrestling with were my treatment of people, patience, and this funny word called love. How to love with the right motives in the right way. Love includes care, discipline, prudence, stewardship vs. and ownership and entitlement mindset that was ingrained.

The world has no grace.

It was time for me to start learning how to be a part of the group that gave it.

As we head into the new year and resolution management season, ask yourself, what are my motives?

Dan Cooper
Post by Dan Cooper
January 10, 2020
Dan Cooper co-founded ej4, a video-based online training company, in 2003, and was its CEO until selling in 2012. During his time with ej4, he grew the company from a startup to a nationally-recognized firm, serving clients including Pepsi-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Honeywell, Monsanto and Syngenta. Channel partners included SAP and Oracle. As of the 2012, ej4 was serving 1,000+ customers, delivering millions of program views, was highly profitable and debt-free. Today, he is the CEO of Acumen, a mastermind community platform built for CEOs and Owners of strong and growing companies. He and his wife, Ali, have three children and attend Cure of Ars church in Leawood, KS. Dan enjoys running, all things soccer — coaching, playing and watching —and burning all types of meat on the backyard barbecue grill.