31 March 2011
What motivates you? I ask because I had cause to think about what motivated me recently. When I was younger and still serving in the Army I used to get up at the crack of dawn to run 5 kilometres every day except Saturday and Sunday. Now I am far too lazy and opt to do Tai Chi and Qi Gong in the comfort of my home, rather than pound the pavements in the cold and wet dawn. I have another excuse too, in that I have twice been operated on my damaged right knee and so have been advised against such masochistic activities. Cycling is OK, but I don't fancy it in the rain.
What motivated me in those former times to get up out of a warm bed on a cold and frost morning? In the beginning the motivation was to pass the annual Battle fitness test and not to look a complete fool in front of the men I was required to lead. Later I discovered I was addicted to the adrenaline rush and other endorphins which I released by running strenuously regularly.
Psychologists tell us there are two types of motivation. Intrinsic which comes from within and extrinsic which needless to say is external. My Army running was done for intrinsic reasons, but it also acted as an extrinsic reason for my men, on the basis, "if that old bastard can do it so can I"!
So what motivated me recently to act as a volunteer at an international football match? I found myself giving out flyers and free magazines to some of the 35,000 fans that came to watch Germany lose to Australia in my home town on Tuesday. It was a more or less mindless task and I had to wear an Adidas sports uniform in black and yellow. It made me look more like a Borussia Dortmund fan, which since they are top of the league maybe no bad thing. Additionally of course I was there to help the visiting fans find their way around the stadium, not that many needed such help. However, by being friendly and enthusiastic we "volunteers" were to enhance the atmosphere of the occasion, which I have to say did work, at least I felt it did.
I volunteered last year to be part of the FIFA U20 Women's World Cup because I wanted to help visitors enjoy their visit to Germany and help show them that Germany is a friendly country and a nice place to live. I wouldn't be here were it otherwise. I felt a need to do this as I had been given warm and friendly receptions in all the Third World Countries I had travelled to. But by volunteering I discovered that there was also enjoyment in being part of a large event. The volunteers themselves were great people and came from all walks of life.
This then is why I found myself again standing around a football stadium in clothes I would not normally wish to wear. You get to watch football for free too. I'd like to have said a good international football game, but Germany did not play well. They played much like Borussia Mönchengladbach do at home. Lead 1:0 at half time then lose 1:2 at the close of play. Well the match was held in the Borussia stadium so what else could one expect. But it has not put me off volunteering, for my original motivation was never to see my team win, but to be part of something larger.