I believe in two premises: (1) most people are good people, but can do better; and (2) most people already know what to do, so why aren’t they doing it?
What is the missing is the spark – motivation. Some self-help books adopt the approach of teaching what to do; we take a different approach. We ask, “Why don’t you do it?” If you ask people on the street what should be done, they will give you all the correct answers. But ask them whether they are doing it and the answer will be no. what is lacking is motivation. The greatest motivation comes from a person’s belief system. That means he needs to believe in what he does and accept responsibility. That is where motivation becomes important. When people accept responsibility for their behavior and actions, their attitude toward life becomes positive. They become more productive, personally and professionally. Their relationships improve both at home and at work. Life becomes more meaningful and fulfilled.
After a person’s basic physical needs are met, emotional needs become a bigger motivator. Every behavior comes out of the “pain and gain” principle. If the gain is greater than the pain, that is the motivator. If the pain is greater than the gain, then that is the deterrent.
Gains can be tangible, such as: monetary rewards, vacations, and gifts. They can be intangible, such as: recognition, appreciation, and sense of achievement, promotion, growth, responsibility, sense of fulfillment, self-worth, accomplishment, and belief.
What is the difference between inspiration and motivation?
Can we motivate others? The answer is no. people motivate themselves. What other people can do, however, is inspire them to motivate themselves. We can create a conducive environment which can be motivating. In order to inspire people to motivate themselves, we need to understand their needs and wants. There is a direct correlation between motivation and productivity. People who do just enough to get by so they don’t get fired will never be valuable to any organization. Inspiration is changing thinking; motivation is changing action.
Motivation is like fire – unless you keep adding fuel to it, it dies. Just like exercise and food don’t last long, neither does motivation. However, if the source of motivation is belief in inner values, it becomes long-lasting. What is the greatest motivator? Is it money? Recognition? Improvement in our quality of life? Acceptance by those we love? All these can be motivating force.
Experience has shown that people will do lot for money, more for a good leader, and do most for a belief. We see this happening every day all over the world. People will die for a belief. My objective is to share the fact that when we believe that we are responsible for our lives and our behavior, our outlook toward life changes for the better.
Let’s redefine motivation
The next logical question is what is motivation? Motivation is something that encourages action or feeling. To motivate means to encourage and inspire. Motivation can also mean to turn on or ignite the feeling or action. Motivation is powerful. It can persuade, convince, and propel you into action. In other words, motivation can be defined as motive for action. It is a force that can literally change your life.
Why do we need to get motivated? Motivation is driving force in our lives. It comes from a desire to succeed. Without success there is a little pride in life; no enjoyment or excitement at work and at home. Often life becomes like a lopsided wheel giving a bumpy ride.
The greatest enemy of motivation is complacence. Complacence leads to frustration, and when people are frustrated they give up because they cannot identify what is important.
Motivation – how does it work
Once you understand the principle that motivates the motivator, you can proceed to achieve your goal and can motivate others too. Your internal motivation is your drive and attitude. It is contagious. Attitude is the key to getting the response you want from others. How does a person stay motivated and focused? One important tool that has been used by athletes for a long time ago is called auto-suggestion. Auto-suggestions are positive statements made in the present tense and repeated regularly. In other words it is positive self-talk. Motivation is classified into two types: external and internal.
External motivation comes from outside, such as money, societal approval, fame or fear. Examples of external motivation are fear of getting spanked by parents and fear of getting fired at work.
A company wanted to set up a pension plan. In order for the plan to be installed, it needed 100% participation. Everyone signed up except John. The plan made sense and was in the best interest of everyone. John not signing was the only obstacle. John’s supervisor and other co-workers had tried to persuade him without success.
The owner of the company called John into his office and said, “John, here is a pen and these are the papers for you to sign to enroll into the pension plan. If you don’t enroll, you are fired this minute”. John signed right way. The owner asked John why he hadn’t signed earlier. John replied, “No one explained the plan quite as clearly as you did”.
Fear motivation – The advantages of fear motivation are:
- It get the job done quickly
- It is instantaneous
- It prevent loss, by meeting deadlines
- In the short run the person’s performance may improve.
Performance goes up – it is not uncommon to see the prey outsmarting the predator, because one is running for its food and the other for its life. We learn from history that the pyramids were built by slaves. They had to be constantly watched and reprimanded for nonperformance. The disadvantages of fear motivation are:
- It is external, which means the motivation is there while the motivator is there. When the motivator goes, the motivation also goes
- It causes stress
- Performance is limited to compliance
- In the long run, performance goes down
- It destroys creativity
- They get used to the stick and then need a bigger stick
A customer asked an employee, “When did you start working here?” He replied, “Ever since they threatened to fire me”.
Incentive motivation – External motivation can also take the form of incentives, bonuses, commission, recognition, etc. what are the advantages of incentive motivation? The major advantage is that it can work very well as long as the incentive is strong enough. Think of a donkey with a carrot dangling in front and with a cart behind. Incentive motivation will only work if the donkey is hungry enough, the carrot is sweet enough, and the load is light enough. From time to time, you have to let the donkey take a bite of the carrot; otherwise it is going to get discouraged. After the donkey takes a bite, its stomach is full, and you need to wit for the donkey to get hungry again before it will pull the cart. This is typically seen in our business environment. The salespeople meet their quota, they stop working. This is because their motivation is limited to meeting their quota. That is external, not internal.
We are all motivated – either positively or negatively
In Toronto, I heard a story of two brothers. One was a drug addict and drunk who frequently beat up his family. The other one was very successful businessman who was respected in society and had a very wonderful family. Some people wanted to find out why two brothers from the same parents, brought up in the same environment, could be so different.
The first one was asked, “How come you do what you do? You are a drug addict, a drunk and you beat your family. What motivates you?” He said, “My father”. They asked, “What about your father?” He reply was, “My father was a drug addict, a drunk and he beat his family. What do you expect me to be? That is what I am.”
They went to the brother who was doing everything right and asked him the same questions. “How come you are doing everything right? What is your source of motivation?” And guess what he said? “My father. When I was a little boy, I used to see my dad drunk and doing all the wrong things. I made up my mind that is not what I wanted to be”. Both were deriving their strength and motivation from the same source, but one was using it positively and the other negatively.
Negative motivation brings the desire to take the easier way which ends up being the tougher way.
A Little Black Pen