Check Your Motive


For my friend’s fiftieth birthday, her husband organized a gigantic surprise party for her, complete with loads of guests, gifts, and catering. Fun galore. Who wouldn’t want that kind of bash thrown in their honor?

Well—one person, for sure: my friend.

As the last guest left that night, her husband basking in the glory of what he’d pulled off for his wife’s birthday celebration, he asked her, “So how did you like your party?” She said, “It was lovely, but you threw me the party you wanted for your fiftieth birthday, not the party I wanted for mine.

At first blush, her response might seem unappreciative given the level of effort he’d invested. But as you unpack it a bit further, we can all relate. Although he was well-intended on the surface, who was the husband really holding the party for? I certainly don’t know, but the story has made me check my motives as I plan family vacations, holiday celebrations, dinners out, and birthday parties for my wife (who hates them).

Check your motive. When you’re entering a meeting, starting a conversation with a colleague, or launching a campaign, ask yourself: What’s your role? What’s your agenda? What’s your win and what's theirs?

Leading a team requires a different skillset than working as an individual contributor. To succeed in the face of new challenges, first-level leaders need to shift how they think and act. Download our latest guide and develop your people into a high-performing team. 

About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a twenty-three-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as the executive vice president of thought leadership. Scott hosts multiple podcasts including FranklinCovey On Leadership and Great Life, Great Career. Additionally, Scott is a co-author of The Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Everyone Deserves A Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices For Leading A Team. He is also the author of the multiweek Amazon #1 New Release, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow. Scott writes a weekly leadership column for and is a frequent contributor to Thrive Global. Previously, Scott worked for the Disney Development Company and grew up in Central Florida. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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