What Motivates You?

Associated Handouts Action Items
Leader’s Guide
(Gold and Platinum)
Workshop Survey

External Motivators — Outside Stimulation

To motivate means to provide with, or affect as, a motive or motives; to incite or impel. Supposedly, if we have the right motives and know how to take the appropriate actions, we will be motivated. Outside sources like motivational speakers, audio­tapes, videotapes, and books are all jam-packed with outstanding and powerful life changing ideas. We may instantly feel that we can do it all with re­newed enthusiasm and optimism about our lives. But in a few days, we go right back to the same attitudes, behavioral patterns, and results.

Fear Motivators

When you consider the word motivation, it is the combination of two words, motive, and action. If the motive to take action comes from a personal fear, it can make us move in a certain direction. If there is a big enough threat to the quality of our life, we will take immediate action to avoid loss. Unfortunately, nature has an easy come, easy go balance sheet. Fear motivation may work for a while, but we humans are very adaptable creatures. We can adjust to the worst of circumstances. Besides being stressful, at best, fear motivation is temporary. After all, people can adjust to being terminally ill. If we can adjust to certain death, how much fear motivation can be permanent? Once we adjust mentally to the potential loss, we no longer take action to avoid it. The motives for the action stop, so the action itself stops. Ultimately progress ceases to move forward.

Incentive Motivators

With incentive motivation, it’s the carrot on the end of a stick in front of a donkey pulling a cart. This works if the carrot is big enough, the stick is short enough, the cart is light enough, and the donkey is hungry enough. Change any of these vari­ables, however, and incentive motivation stops. When it does work, the donkey must eventually get the carrot. Then a bigger carrot, a shorter stick, or a lighter cart may be necessary before the process works again. As a motivational technique, incentive motivation is both tricky and temporary.

Breakdown of Motivation and Training

Many times, when I am working with a new group, I ask a series of questions to help differentiate between motivation, training, and em­powerment. “How many would appreciate being able to improve the quality of their lives?” All raise their hands. “How many believe that if you exercise, you will improve the quality of your health and, ultimately, the quality of your life?” Again, they all raise their hands. “It is obvious we all have the motives to exercise.  How many of you could design yourself a safe and effective exercise program, without having to learn one more thing about exercise?” Almost everyone in the room raises his or her hands. They all have the information on how to exercise. “How many are satisfied with your current level of exercise in your life right now?” Usually only a small fraction of the group raises their hands. Which proves that just because we have the motivation and the information, we need to achieve the level of success we are aspiring to, we can still lack the know-how of following through on any consistent action until we realize the results we’re looking to achieve. Most people will admit that they believe in and know more about exercise than their behavior currently indicates. Another hour of the whys and how’s would unlikely make any kind of permanent differ­ence.

How about other behaviors that improve the quality of our lives? What about time management techniques? Many of us believe in and know more about per­sonal time management than our behavior cur­rently indicates. Communica­tion skills? Goal setting? Raising positive children? Having a quality marriage? Often people attend training to hear ideas they already know how to do but just haven’t managed to imple­ment. Only taking the appropriate action is going to create results. The key is becoming the person who is empowered to take action, transforming attitudes and habits to complement the actions necessary to attain goals and objectives. Per­sonal change is already taking place in all our lives. The answer is to drive change, not just adjust to it. So, the bottom line is: motivation is inspiration; training is information; and empower­ment is transformation.

Comfort Zones – The Internal Motivation

We need to tap into our natural reserves of talents and abilities. Those abilities that make things happen come from all our life training and experiences. We possess a lot more knowledge than we use on a day-to-day basis. We have more time than we use effectively on an hour-to-hour basis. We have a vast imagination and plenty of energy for all the things we really want to create and accomplish. We can concentrate and follow through more effectively on the things that are most important to us. Unfortunately, we only need to use what our mind says we need according to the level of quality we believe is necessary to keep us happy.

To tap those wonderful abilities, we need to heighten our awareness of what really makes us happy, and not except the standard that we’ve grown accustomed to.  This is done by becoming consciously aware of our true self-concept and personal life design. Know what it clearly looks like when you are experiencing life at a level that complements what you are about as a person, and what your true intentions are in that specific area of your life. That is the design part. Feeling like doing what you need to do to make it happen is your attitude part. Consistently doing the activities that are most likely going to get you there is the habit part.