Motivation provides a reason to act in a certain way. It means to spring from within. It incites to action. It is unique to each individual.
The stereotypical “motivation” of coaches, bosses and sadly sometimes parents berating a person, is not motivation. It is external, fear inducing behavior management. True motivation exists when an individual has the ability to operate according to their specific design. A creative individual is motivated by opportunities to be innovative and inventive. Another person may be motivated by encouragement. Someone else thrives in an atmosphere where they can make a difference and impact lives.
It is important to know your own motivators. With a bit of reflection, they should be easy to identify. Think back to a project , experience or time where you knew you were doing something you fully and completely enjoyed. You may have been physically tired but you were very much alive to who you are. What type of activity were you doing? Who were you with? Where were you? As you relive those memories, notice the specifics. Was it a laid back environment or were you leading and driving to accomplish something? Was it more task related or people related? Was there laughter, compassion or quiet? Once you are equipped with your list of motivators you can intentionally incorporate them into each day.
The next step is to start observing the people around you and try to identify what motivates them. Pay attention to when their face lights up - what are they doing or talking about? Notice when they seem to lose track of time because they are engaged in what they are doing. Conversely, take note of when they seem to be dragging. As you sharpen this skill, you will be able to help (and love) those around you by encouraging them using their areas of motivation.
Tapping into motivation is powerful when it is coming from a place of authenticity. For example, parents taking the time to notice their children’s motivators can train and support their children in the language that makes the most sense to that child. One of our children is motivated by creativity and humor, so I use humor when teaching a life lesson and reinforce it with a creative activity. Another one thrives on encouragement, so I leave notes or small gifts to nurture in areas where there is obedience. Taking the time to know what motivates the people around us is a way for us to show that we authentically care about them as individuals.
Employers choosing to focus on the uniqueness of each employee could assign special projects, design recognition and reward programs and provide developmental opportunities based on individual motivations. I was running a corporate-wide recognition program with significant financial awards which required each team nominated to present in front of an audience. One of the groups had created a patented technology for healthcare and only one technologist was present. He was asked why the rest of the team wasn’t part of the “presentation” requirement of the program. His answer was priceless, “they would rather be hit with a baseball bat then stand in front of people and talk.” They were brilliant technologists who were not in the slightest way motivated by being on a stage - in fact they would have each walked away from thousands of dollars in bonuses if they had to be there. Their innovation, deep-thinking, seriousness, commitment to making a difference, etc. were their motivators. Thankfully, the CTO of this company fully understood that individuals need to know they are valued and they are motivated differently.
Do you know what motivates you? Whether for yourself or for those around you - motivation matters. Be intentional!!