Great leaders and influencers understand the value of motivation.
They understand their effectiveness as a leader is directly proportional to their ability to inspire action amongst the people they work with.
Everyone from moms to business leaders needs to understand the importance of motivation
Most people go through life feeling stuck. They become overwhelmed and paralyzed by the actions they should be doing.
They spend their time chasing after the next thing they think will bring inspiration and energy instead of spending time simply starting to take action.
Motivation is important because it sets up a culture around us that will accomplish more than we ever could on our own.
And when we learn to tap into the inspirational power of true, internal motivation, we set others up for liberation and success that will propel generations forward.
What Is Motivation?
“As a man thinks, feels, and believes, so is the condition of his mind, body, and circumstances.” - Joseph Murphy
Motivation is simply the desire to do things. It’s a word used to describe the driving force behind our actions.
Every action in our life has an obstacle in front of it… motivation is the driving force that challenges us to push through the obstacle and accomplish a goal.
For example, when you need to mow the lawn the main obstacle between you and the mower is usually just laziness. Sometimes the obstacle is a lack of time. Maybe the obstacle is you simply forgot to refill the gas can again.
To push past that obstacle, you might be motivated by the 6 inches of grass that make your yard look like a jungle causing embarrassment. Or, you might be motivated by your spouse telling you to mow for 8th time.
Motivation is the internal reason you have for pushing past an obstacle and taking action.
Everything we do requires some form of motivation, something that creates a desire, for us to want to do something.
Our actions are a direct reflection of the thoughts and desires we have.
Many of us go through life thinking motivation is difficult to come by. We watch videos and clips of people saying gorgeous sentences, but we still suffer without taking action.
We’ve commoditized action. We’ve started to believe that to have action in our life, we have to pay for it with a burst of motivation. And that there is no way we can start a project unless we “feel like it” or are “energized enough”.
To find lasting and endless, distraction-free motivation, we must push beyond external bursts and discover the values that drive our actions.
Quick Tip: Rewards Don’t Work (Watch The TED Talk)
“Higher rewards led to poorer performance… This is one of the most robust findings in social science and also one of the most ignored” - Daniel Pink
I love this TED Talk. Daniel Pink talks about how workplaces still view motivation from an outdated perspective.
Most workplaces try to incentivize or motivate employees through a direct reward system. e.g. if you make more sales, you make more money
Research shows that rewards don’t work to motivate employees. In fact, rewards actually decrease productivity.
Rewards dull thinking and block productivity because they narrow the possibilities of performance.
So, when you’re looking to motivate yourself or other people, don’t start with a reward system.
To motivate yourself and others, you must understand the core desires that actually move people towards action.
Motivation shouldn’t have to be pumped into everyone to see a world full of motivated and inspired people.
Motivation is instilled in our core desires and values. The job of an influencer or leader is simply to tap into the desires that light people up and foster them.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
So, how do we find the values that drive and motivate us? Here’s a structured view of motivation…
In 1943, Abraham Maslow proposed a theory of motivation. He said that certain human needs take precedence over others. He said that for someone to be motivated, they need their needs to be met in a specific order.
For instance, Maslow proposed that for someone to be motivated in Love and Belonging, they would need to have their Safety and Security needs met first.
This was revolutionary at the time because Maslow proposed a structured way for influencers to motivate themselves and others.
See, you can’t expect someone to be creative and find purpose (Self-Actualization) if they don’t have their Self-Esteem needs met first.
Great influencers and leaders recognize how important it is to provide for the needs at the base level of Maslow’s hierarchy first. Then, they slowly work their way up, fulfilling more needs so they can partner with others in self-actualization.
Maslow’s Hierarchy allows us to examine the core behaviors and drives that make up motivation.
Through the hierarchy, we can see how a simple monetary reward wouldn’t be sufficient if someone was longing for friendship, family, and intimacy (Love and Belonging).
To motivate ourselves and others, we must understand the core values that ultimately end up shaping our actions.
It is important to study motivation so we can partner with others in the process of self-actualization.
The Two Types: External and Internal Motivation
Daniel Pink talks about two types of motivation: external and internal.
External motivation is the "carrot dangling from a stick" approach. It's all about rewards and hype and dramatic YouTube clips and eloquent phrases.
Internal motivation is the underlying values we carry that shape the decisions and actions we make every day.
Most influencers and leaders attempt to create an environment that runs on external motivation. The problem is that external motivation rarely works.
The rewards and punishment approach only causes a lack of creativity and stifles productivity.
Rewards (i.e. external motivators) narrow our focus and limit our possibilities.
Internal motivation creates an environment that is open and free. It’s an environment that fosters creativity and connection and lasting energy that doesn’t fluctuate depending on how epic the background music is.
In your home, workplace, or relationships, start to identify internal motivation within yourself and others.
You’ll foster an environment centered around internal motivation when you choose to see the people around you as infinitely complex. Begin creating true relationships with people and understand the values that drive them.
As an influencer, it’s your job to foster the values that help actualize others. Not simply for your benefit, but because you cherish the people you’re with and their prosperity.
The 3 Elements Leaders Must Foster
To allow others to enter into self-actualization, Daniel Pink suggests 3 elements leaders must foster.
Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives
Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters
Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in something bigger than ourselves
In every aspect of your life, begin to evaluate these 3 elements.
How can you build and incorporate autonomy, mastery, and purpose in your workplace, home, and relationships?
Let’s take a coffee shop for example. We’ll walk through each element and see how we could motivate baristas and champion their self-actualization:
Autonomy: Baristas are usually creative people. Most of them are artists in some band and half of their music sounds terrible (or good? Maybe my music taste isn’t as refined). Instead of creating coffee recipes and forcing people to follow them, the coffee shop could create a rhythm when baristas get an hour each week to experiment with new drinks and recipes and presentations. Giving autonomy and ownership to others allows them to enter into their own liberation and become more motivated in the workplace.
Mastery: When I worked as a barista, my manager asked me, “what’s an area in coffee I can help you grow in?”. I was so taken back by that question. I thought it was so thoughtful that he was interested in my growth. From there, he helped me work on my latte art every time we worked together. He was a guide in my progress and because of that, I was motivated more and more to work better.
Purpose: Coffee is a great drink, but it’s really a cultural phenomenon that is largely about people. A coffee shop could motivate employees by exploring different ways the company could begin impacting community and culture through coffee. For example, my friend is currently pursuing his counseling degree while working in a coffee shop. He’s been exploring ways to incorporate meaningful conversations and relationships with coffee. Creating a space for purpose inside of work, or any environment, allows people to achieve self-actualization much quicker than simple rewards.
How To Become A Better Motivator
The importance of motivation is found in our direct ability as influencers to help other people enter into their own liberation and actualization.
We all have core values and drives that shape our actions and behaviors.
External motivation simply just stirs up the drives that have always been there. We will have endless energy and become powerful motivators when we can help others tap into the core values that exist within them.
Once you help others foster their inner motivation, you will see the extraordinary capability people have when they become self-actualized.
3 Steps You Can Take To Become A Better Motivator:
- Begin by listening and understanding the core values of the relationships around you.
- Reduce external motivation and start fostering internal motivation in other people.
- Explore and create environments of autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Motivation Isn’t About What You Say… It’s About What You Ask
“On the other hand, when you’re asking questions, you might feel less certain about whether you’re being useful, the conversation can feel slower and you might feel like you’ve somewhat lost control of the conversation (and indeed you have. That’s called “empowering”). Put like that, it doesn’t sound like that good an offer.” Michael Stanier
Wisdom is found is in the questions you ask rather than in the words you speak.
External motivation is all about talking at people. It’s about trying to convince them to take action. This rarely works well.
Internal motivation is about starting a dialogue. It’s about asking questions that help people realize their potential and the future they want to create.
Great influencers ask great questions. They ask questions that allow others to take responsibility for their own growth.
Understanding the importance of motivation requires you to become an active listener. One who is empathetic and understanding. One who truly desires to see others flourish and prosper.
Great influencers are interested in coaching others towards development, not simply coaching others towards performance.
Book Suggestions To Become A Better Motivator
Drive details the 3 elements of motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Pink covers exhaustive scientific detail about what truly motivates people and how we can create environments of influence and creativity.
1001 Solution Focused Questions explains the process of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. Essentially, it’s a form of motivational therapy that helps people understand where they’re at with goals and where they want to go. Even though it explains ideas in therapy, it includes great tools that will help you motivate others and help them stay on track with their goals.
The Coaching Habit will help you understand how to ask great questions that lead other people to success. The author identifies 7 essential questions that work great as outlines for helping others become more motivated and creative.
I exist to help people explore their identity and connect their unique story to culture. I’m an avid learner and am endlessly curious about the world around me (YouTube has taught me everything I know). When I’m not lost in a book, I’m usually brewing naturally-processed black coffee and picking up strange and unusual flavor notes.