At a recent job interview I was asked “what motivates you?” I hesitated for a bit because my brain went into this giant space of possible answers. I felt I could give so many examples they will simply think I was crazy (giggling). The lamp above my head went off and I basically said that I am either succeeding or leaving.
What motivation is and how do people get to feel this lifting and inspiring catalyst? Motivation is literally the desire to do things. I’ve studied business within my bachelor degree and, frankly, covered a large number of topics related to motivation, organisational behavior, incentives and so on and so forth. Thus I want to start with business and look into currently changing view on the motivation.
Carrots for Horses
Traditionally, we believe that reward can trigger a better performance and many businesses go with this theory. Don’t get me wrong, it is not just a speculation but a proven theory. Therefore I will not argue it. However, is a reward always a motivation? This is where I always say “depends”. I found this cool video on the topic of motivation and recommend you to watch it especially if you are as big of a fan of animation as myself.
Now, accordingly, monetary reward works well for these who are engaged in repetitive and and mechanic work. I am not just talking about actual mechanics, smash repairs and similar trades. Sales reps can also fall under this category together with accountants and fitness related people, lawyers and finance. In other words, if a job doesn’t require any cognitive and creative operations, people respond to rewards system very well.
Enough Carrots for the Winter
On other hand, they say all of us who are creative and passionate people just like myself, we are not motivated by large pays or giant bonuses but in fact often de-motivated. WHAT? Well, I am not implying that writers and analysts, for example, shouldn’t be paid well; however what I am saying is that if you drop a large sum of money on a creative person you might kill the creativity. Money IS a motivator though which means everyone must be paid ENOUGH to stay motivated and happy. Well, if it is not the money how to motivate all these creative people? They found out that Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose drives them happy.
I want to draw your attention to Mastery for a moment. The video explains well how many people in the world are keen to give their time and effort away in order to do something Fun and Challenging which masters their skills (whichever they are). I’ve been writing articles spending my time on researching, editing and finding things out for a number of publishers never asking for a pay. Although I of course would love to be rewarded I do get a giant satisfaction of my free work because I get to write which is my big passion, I get better at writing, I find out cool stuff and I get to network with awesome people.
I’ve been also engaging in consulting starting up businesses giving my time and knowledge away without any monetary reward because I find early stages of new businesses absolutely fascinating and happy to be a part of something new. Although I would absolutely love to work for a large corporate unit, which I am trying to get into now, I wouldn’t give my, as they say “hobbies”, up as long as I keep mastering my time & tasks management.
Now you see, organisation & responsibilities is another odd passion of mine! It is not odd to me but appears t be irrational for many. I believe I would have struggled with coming up with good ideas if I had to work for a bonus or commission. This is something I say to people when they start their own business “if you are triggered by money you have a higher chance of failing”. To be motivated to start your own corporation you need to have a passion and willingness to devote a lot of time and effort often for free (at earlier stages).
Are You Motivated?
It is easy to talk about motivation when you are motivated, I guess. However I know some unfortunate people who cannot get their motivation going. Most of them are either lay or unhappy. Sometimes its together. I believe that motivation comes naturally, so to say. I think that if someone isn’t motivated they are simply don’t need to be. For example, an overweight lady saying “I really need to stop eating too much cake but I don’t have motivation” really means “can you please do it for me?”. It doesn’t mean lazy in particular; however it does mean she is not ready to take weight loss job seriously. Staying motivated and inspired means to carry FEELING and WANTING to do what ever we are doing. I lost a great deal of motivation, for example, when I was limited in my professional resources and possibilities. For example, if you are a blogger just like myself and spend two hours putting together a well researched article on something you are probably expecting some results after the publication. Imagine that when you published your work the entire concept of whatever you were writing about just changed or ceased and your work became irrelevant. When it occurs once or twice it probably won’t affect any bloggers’ motivation to write more, but will rather re-direct the focus. However if it is a repetitive event you might eventually stop writing on the topic which is clearly no longer required to be covered focusing on something different. In my case, there was no different, there was the irrelevant piece of work I was ought to carry on with regardless the result or the lack of a bright future.
“If we want to do something and have reasons for doing it, but are still not acting, we have beliefs that are acting as barriers” is another interesting opinion I found about motivation. And I agree that sometimes wanting something bad enough is not enough! Accordingly, for example, these beliefs below can throw people out of motivation because other feelings like fear or hesitation can be simply stronger:
- Mistakes and failure are bad
- If I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected
- I’m not capable or competent
- What makes me good enough or important is having people think well of me
- What makes me good enough or important is doing things perfectly
- Nothing I do is good enough
This is why I often believe that it is almost impossible to motivate others. Motivation comes from inside! We do though can inspire! Inspiring other people can lead to their increased motivation. Enthusiasm, openness and often a friendly bubbly nature can motivate people to do better.
Your enthusiasm can be contagious making others want to act. However it can also be de-motivating if you make people stress.
- While some people love working under the pressure of deadlines, others get stuff done weeks before them. Working under pressure of time or anything else, really, is NOT an issue for most people if they think it is fair. I can get my job done a little quicker if I have to submit it in an hour and I might take it easy if it’s due tomorrow. Either way I will do my job my best. However, if I just got screamed at, someone changed the deadlines the last moment and everyone around is worried about their job security rather than tasks, I will most likely perform much worse. Motivating others works very similar to de-motivating them. Do what I say not what I do doesn’t work most of the time, especially not long term.
- Poor health is another reason for a professional de-motivation because of the priorities. I believe that people live according their main beliefs adjusting them slightly as they go. Priorities involve beliefs but they are a bit more flexible. I wake up in the morning and I make my decision to be up at 5am to exercise, get changed, have my coffee and walk into the office with a smile. I priorities exercising or work depending on the situation. If I can be a little late today I might take more time at the gym; however if I am sensing I am closer to deadlines I might cut my work out time. Same goes for everything! If a business owner decides to run his operation proper, transparent and in accordance with law, their business will be very different from a dodgy competitor. Health can simply become a higher priority and can de-motivate in many other areas of life. I assume we all understand that the degree of health issues will change the entire picture.
- The lack of purpose is a giant de-motivator. Not understanding the “meaning of life” is dangerous. Everyone has a some sort of sense of what they want from their lives. Who ever doesn’t is usually unhappy or in the process of searching and it can result in all sort of things. The purpose of life is highly objective, different for every single individual and can be modified depending on what life throws at you. Not having a purpose is like putting life on hold. It happens everyone at some stage in life; however better of being resolved eventually.
We can motivate others as much as we can kill their motivation. Just as Simon Sinek said in his TED video, inspirational people gather similar people around them. Not motivated people won’t stick around. However to become Steve Jobs or Wright Brothers or even Aristotle, you need to be driven by a purpose.
Now, as I mentioned earlier people driven by money do not succeed as much as people driven by passion. However if money becomes passion, it also drives the success. Just like Simon mentioned in his video, the desire to be rich and famous can motivate to finding unique ways of getting wealth and fame. Although many people giggled at the book (and later a video tutorial) “Secret”, it is no secret to anyone that believing in yourself can actually get you there. I am not saying it will be easy or quick and most likely adjusted, tore apart and put together on multiple occasions but feeling and knowing that you can do it can keep your motivation running till the end of your days.