Motivation really does matter.
Most of us can recognise the benefits of motivation in our lives – increased levels of confidence, satisfaction and achievement. You’ve probably also experienced what it’s like to have little or no motivation – it feels like being stuck in a quagmire – when everything is slow and tedious, and apathy reigns.
Life is definitely more rewarding and enjoyable when motivation is high.
Zig Ziglar stated this truth; ‘People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.’ Motivation is transient. It comes and goes. In my words – ‘Sometimes you’re hot and sometimes you’re not.’ It’s important then to understand motivation – what it is, where it comes from and how to maintain it.
Motivation is Fuel
Motivation begins in the heart but is most powerful when it provokes action and produces results. The word motivation comes from the Latin word ‘movere’ meaning ‘to MOVE’. Ps Phil Pringle says; ‘Being motivated is not just being inspired. Motivation goes to work. If motivation doesn’t result in action it is futile.’
A motivated person then is someone who exudes drive, enthusiasm and confidence. As petrol is to a car engine, motivation is the fuel in a person’s life. It provides the impetus to start, maintain and complete a goal.
Where Does Motivation Come From?
The word ‘motivation’ is derived from the word ‘motive’. The strongest source of motivation comes from a deep sense of purpose or conviction. When you set goals or embark on accomplishing something new it is not merely enough to know WHAT you want to achieve but also WHY. The ‘why’ is the core reason for starting and maintaining action. When times get tough and motivation wanes the ‘why’ is what will keep someone going.
A further source of motivation is passion. Passion has many facets. It can encompass positive emotions like vision, desire and excitement, but it can also include more ‘negative’ emotions such as fear, anger or injustice. Any of these passionate responses can provoke a person to action. Passions though, because they are emotional responses, have the problem of being fickle. So when our motivational tanks are running dry we need to be able to change gears and find energy from other sources.
When Motivation Fails, What Needs to Kick In?
Jim Rohn, says “Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.”
In the process of achieving a goal, motivation will fluctuate – there will be highs and lows. You will go through times when you feel like you could burst with excitement and energy, and other moments when everything inside of you feels dull or dead.
A number of years ago, we revived the interior of our family home. I love colour and the house we bought was a home built in the 70’s which had stained wood and white walls throughout. In my eyes it was very boring and lifeless. For a number of months I dreamt what my walls would look like with colour. I was so excited – vision was very much alive in my heart. I remember clearly the night before I commenced painting; I was so filled with passion that I could not even sleep. I was dreaming about colour…colour…colour on my walls. The next day I started to paint…then the next day…and the day after that…and the days rolled on. What started with great enthusiasm turned into a hard slog. But how delightful was the prize at the end of all the effort.
Many goals we set out to accomplish are like that. So what is it that will keep us going? I believe its three key character qualities; pure COMMITMENT, dogged DISCIPLINE and resolute DETERMINATION.
In 2005, God visited me one morning and put a message in my heart. He asked me to write a book that would inspire women to rise. The burden and sense of call I felt was profound. When God asks you to do something, it often leaves you with a strong sense of motivation…but it’s so much deeper than that. As Christians the highest motivation we can have in our lives is obedience to say ‘yes’ and do whatever God asks you…even when there is a personal cost.
So, I said ‘yes’ and began to write. It was a tumultuous journey. The first month or so, the words were bubbling out of me like a river. As the months went on I had to learn the DISICIPLINE and the HABIT of writing during times when inspiration and motivation were low. It took two and half years to write my book. Throughout that journey, I also had to live the message of my book which is to ‘Stand up and step out into a life of influence.’ Because of this, I went through some intense personal challenges and growth which demanded me to stand firm in the commitment I had made. There were other moments that were also particularly tough. After writing my first draft I had a number of people critique my work and to be quite honest some of their comments nearly ‘killed me’. But I kept going. Then came the editing stage…and this required ongoing tedious writing…rewriting…and even more writing. That’s when discipline, determination and commitment once again had to reign. Thankfully, I did finish writing and my book was published. (Women Rising)
Let me encourage you…that whatever you choose to do…whether it’s starting a business, planting a church, studying a course, renovating a home, getting fit, losing weight, getting counselling for a heart issue or practising an instrument or a creative skill…be COMMITTED, apply DISCIPLINE and keep PERSEVERING.
Principles of Motivation
Psychologists have devised many different theories on motivation. Within these theories there are some common key principles. Let’s look at two of them.
Difference Between Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation
This principle recognises the difference between motivation that comes from an external source, that is ‘outside’ a person, versus motivation that is birthed from within a person.
We’ll understand this by looking at a sporting example. An athlete training who is extrinsically motivated, will get their impetus for competing from their desire for recognition…the need for others approval… to become famous… to gain financial rewards …or to win the ultimate place and prize. For this individual their motivation and sense of fulfilment comes from demonstrating a higher ability in comparison to others. In most cases, it requires the person to defeat others and to WIN.
Whereas an athlete who is intrinsically motivated will find satisfaction in the personal benefits and enjoyment gained through training and competing. This could include being fit and healthy… the strengthening of personal qualities such as discipline and determination…or establishing and beating their own ‘personal bests’. When a person is internally motivated, winning is great, but it’s not everything. Motivation more comes from doing one’s best rather than being the best. It’s not about out-competing others, but rather the satisfaction found in personal growth and achieving goals.
At work, people can also be internally or externally motivated. Extrinsic factors that motivate people can be:
Bosses expectations and approval
Rewards and incentives
Whereas intrinsic motivators in the workplace can include:
A sense of personal pride at a job well done
Belonging and achieving in a team context
Mastering a goal by applying skills and knowledge
Setting and achieving KPI’s
If you are in a position where you manage people, or have close relationships with others (eg your husband or children) – it’s very worthwhile to understand what motivates them…and of course yourself. When you recognize key motivators in your own and others lives, you can both provide these motivators for them and more aptly encourage them.
Motivators of ‘Competence’ and ‘Autonomy’
The factors of competence and autonomy are two intrinsic factors which motivate people – both in their personal and professional lives. Competence involves a satisfied feeling of being able to do something really well. Most people find inspiration in being effective, proficient or even expert at something. The other motivator – autonomy – is a fundamental psychological need that people have to be able to control their own decisions and behaviour. In essence, autonomy is when individuals are able to exert their independence.
Research has found that individuals will seek and pursue activities that bring a sense of competence and autonomy. In the work place, these motivators are particularly important and reflect why employees are demotivated when they are micromanaged by their bosses. A feeling of lack of control and incompetence will generally result in low morale and poor performance.
The most effective tool then for managing staff is empowering delegation. This is when employees are given tasks or responsibilities that match or appropriately challenge their strengths and talents – thus enabling a person to achieve competency. Secondly, they are given sufficient authority to perform the task without undue supervision – thus satisfying their need for autonomy.
Andrew Carnegie, entrepreneur and philanthropist, said this; ‘People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.’ Motivation then really does matter. Casting our eyes to the past and then onwards into the future…it will be motivation that will drive great accomplishments, compel personal excellence and MOVE forward our lives and the world we live in.
Amanda Antcliff is a personal coach, mentor, pastor, trainer and speaker. She is also the author of the book ‘Women Rising’. www.amandaantcliff.com