Retail Competency: Ability To Self-Motivate

Image Source: Beth Boyd
Image Source: Beth Boyd

#Retail Competency: Ability To Self-Motivate

I am pathologically self-motivated. I always have been. I graduated high-school one month after turning 16 because I was desperate to move on from traditional learning methods. I was hungry to see what was next. When first started in retail when I was 18 years old and was insanely motivated (and I worked with an amazing leadership team who saw how committed I was), I worked hard and crushed my job description and asked for additional responsibilities and within six months was promoted to a District Manager. Since then (over the course of many, many…many years) I have accomplished a lot in retail. I have learned a lot. I have continued to work on upskilling, learning, stretching to improve my professional growth. In those moments when I think I have conquered all there is to conquer I take on the next thing that scares me the most on my list and I work on that. (Case in point: starting a blog based on my work and passion of our retail industry).

It always (1) surprises and (2) concerns me when I hear employees say things like “What’s my motivation?” or “What’s in it for me?” – My answer is always the same “your future success”.

I subscribe to the philosophy that no one owes you anything …only you owe you something. You want to be great? YOU have to be dedicated, fierce, and fearless about your growth, your development, your future.

I love working with smart, passionate, driven individuals. They help to keep me focused and engaged. I am committed and eager to support the growth of those who are hungry for knowledge, experience, and expanding outside of their job description – that equals solid character and the ability to self-motivate. This also speaks to their work-ethic, integrity, and personal brand.

What characteristics best define a person who is self-motivated?

(1) They are open to making mistakes
(a) Trying new things means stumbling, making mistakes
(b) Nothing great was ever achieved by playing it safe…ever…
(c) Be able to take the best parts of a concept and reinvent the challenging areas
(d) They have a sense of humor about themselves

(2) They make it a habit to finish what they start
(a) Mediocre people give up when they don’t achieve results immediately
(b) Mediocre to poor performers make excuses for why they “can’t”!
(c) They are tenacious, flexible, and focused when they have a challenge or obstacle

(3) They are supportive coworkers
(a) They, frequently, will assist someone who is struggling
(b) They step in and help overcome business obstacles
(c) They share information/best practices openly
(d) They are transparent in their communication

(4) They are never bored
(a) They constantly busy working through challenges
(b) They are often focused on physical activity
(c) They have lots of interests and hobbies

(5) They LOVE a challenge
(a) They are strategic and innovative and will find a way to make the result great
(b) They build effective partnerships with their coworkers for support
(c) They dive into the task with enthusiasm

(6) They contribute
(a) On conference calls, they will speak to their business
(b) During meetings they will contribute valuable information
(c) They deliver positive, lively, supportive information to their peers and supervisors
(d) They are positive and developing great working relationships
(e) They help support a positive workplace culture

(7) They actively self-develop
(a) They can articulate what they don’t know
(b) They pursue knowledge in those areas by reading or partnering with people who are skilled in the area they are deficient
(c) They are determined to stretch themselves outside their job description

(8) They are positive
(a) They rise to every occasion, problem, challenge, and every momentary setback
(b) They are resilient and get back up and try again
(c) They can motivate others to strive for greatness

As I have said previously – retail is not an industry that is known for robust training plans and development plans for their employees. We, generally, are hired because we possess the experience and competencies to be able to meet the job description of the role. Most people step into a role hoping for growth, hoping for career opportunities – hopefully you work in a retail organization that supports vigorous career and competency growth and your executive team believes in investing in their team’s future – in that case, you are more likely to get an equal contribution of motivation from your employer.

But your growth and development will only be as effective as the level of motivation and enthusiasm you bring to it. You should never expect to give anything less than 100%.


If you work in a company that is chaotic and development is not a priority, you will need to bring your ability to self-motivate yourself – without support. You need to find the reasons that make your job have meaning, that make you stand-out, that support your career growth. You cannot rely on anyone else to meet you half-way, and depending on how little of a priority development is…even 25% of the way. Being able to self-motivate is the only way to ensure that you maximizing your development potential.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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