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In search of Motivation

Motivation, like the word motivate, like the word motive, like the word locomotive, right?

All of these words.

The idea is there is a potential energy.

Think of a car – it needs an energy source. It needs a steering wheel.

It needs a direction, a road. It needs a competent driver. It needs many things.

But at the root of it, it's that spark plug. It's that gasoline. And without the spark plug and the gasoline, you can have the best engine in the world and nothing will happen.

So everyone's always trying to figure out this lightning in the bottle, right? What is the spark plug, the gasoline lighting mechanism that will work for this particular person at this particular time, motivate them to do what is necessary?

And you'll find, amazingly, there are some basic principles, as different as human beings are, there are some basic principles that can help us create motivation more regularly and more effectively in all kinds of people.

So on one axis you’ve got positive and negative.

And on the other side, you've got extrinsic and intrinsic. So you've got four labels, right? Positive, negative, extrinsic, and intrinsic.

Perhaps one thing we can do is just let's start with what is intrinsic versus extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation, just like it sounds, means the motivation or the drive, if you will, comes from within.

And so what might that, what might be an example of that? The simplest thing, let's say you're a child, okay? You're eating your vegetables. If you're eating your vegetables just because you like them or makes you feel good and you think it's nice, you enjoy it with no care about what others think or say about those vegetables. You're intrinsically motivated to eat your vegetables.

But if you're eating your vegetables because you want praise from your parents, you have extrinsic motivation.

Now this is where we get into the positive and the negative piece, right?

If you’re eating vegetables to avoid being scolded by your parents, that's extrinsically negative motivation.

So okay, we've established some terminology, but you might be wondering what can you possibly do with all of this information? Think about yourself. What makes you get up in the morning? What makes you say, all right, I've got things to do today and I'm going to get them done? Is it the paycheck?

Is it someone clapping for you? Is it the feeling of satisfaction of a job well done?

And to be quite frank, there's nothing wrong with working for monetary reward. We all need that to a certain point, but there are diminishing returns to it.

And the same is true for praise. So ultimately, in the end, the biggest motivation is your own personal contentment. Can you look yourself in the mirror? Can you look outside your window? Can you look at the life you've built for yourself and for the people you care about? And can you take a sense of satisfaction from it and say,

“I think we did okay. I think things turned out good. And while I might not be the best and I might not be the, you know, Forbes CEO of the year, for example, I have respect and I have people who appreciate me. And more importantly, I have achieved the goals I set out to achieve.”

Like I said earlier, in the end, your strongest motivation, but also your strongest demotivation comes from within.

Which is sure, there's external, you know, carrots and sticks, like you want to make more money, you want to avoid being scolded or, you know, laid off or anything like that.

But we are ourselves, you know, can be our cheerleaders or our biggest critics.

And for some people that are highly self, their locus of control is very strong within.

And so in the sense that they're only really competing with themselves and they're only really trying to prove something to themselves.

For those folks, it is very easy to fall into the sort of negative spiral.

And so it's worth thinking about how you would like to think of yourself, to set goals for yourself, to measure your own success, but also to encourage yourself.

Because in the end, all we have is our ability to motivate ourselves positively from within.


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