The “Ins” and “Outs” of Motivation
What if we could still be like these two tiny terrors on the trampoline? Bouncing through life, motivated by the moment and by the possibility of what’s next. As adults, motivation works a little differently than it did when we were children.
Sources of Motivation
We all have two sources of motivation — internal (intrinsic) and external (extrinsic). Internal motivation, or self-motivation, is a part of our emotional intelligence. It is what drives us to excel, to meet and overcome challenges, to get up in the morning when things are less than rosy. It is part of the interpersonal continuum of EI: self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation. The good news about EI is that we can improve it. Low self-motivation can be strengthened.
Then we have external motivation. I will tell you that the two girls bouncing on the trampoline are motivated by cookies, Barbies, and playing outdoors. That’s what they value, what motivates them.
In adulthood, we have refined our values a bit. Wherever you are in your life, either just starting out, or at the end of your career, the things that motivate you most strongly are the result of your life’s experiences.
Our external motivators, our carrots and sticks if you will, are the things that drive all of our decisions — from the kind of car you drive, to who you choose as a significant other, to the music you listen to and the books you read. Generally speaking, we don’t change these at will. You can’t go to a self-help book and learn how to have different motivators.
What you can do, though, is understand what yours are. And you can learn what motivates the people you work with and live with. In doing that, you can speak to others in terms of what they value. You can even teach yourself not to roll your eyes when someone is talking about things that are total “de-motivators” for you.
Great managers have learned this. They know that motivation is unique to each individual employee. They understand that not everyone is motivated by the next raise.
When you look at your team, your family, your friends, do you understand what they value? What motivates them?