Understanding Motivation, Debunking the Motivation Myth

Motivation comes from the word ‘move’ and means ‘to move’. Motivation literally means; that which moves a person to a course of action. Motivation indicates a movement that is initiated by a reason or purpose. This is an important point to understand; having a reason and purpose will activate motivation. For example, it is hard to move towards something if you can’t see any reason or purpose. In other words you need a motif or good reason as to why you would put in the effort and to create some momentum and move from where you currently are. If you are keen to do something you are more likely to be motivated; you don’t have to try, you will just want do it. Remember also that you might have a reason and purpose to NOT be motivated; in that case you won’t to ‘move’.

Move away or towards?

At the core we humans are very simple creatures. We either move away from something or towards something courtesy of the brain. The brain is designed to move towards reward or pleasure and move away from pain. Like any other living creature we move away from pain and towards pleasure (survival). In order to be motivated (to move) you need to have a good reason; either a reward or benefit, or a move away from discomfort, dislike or danger.

To be or not to be motivated…that is the question

There are many questions about personal motivation – or lack of it – as well as motivation in others. People often wonder why they themselves or someone else is not motivated.

Managers often ask the question ‘How can I motivate my team?’ The problem is they look for a simple solution like a team building day, expecting it to work like magic. They think that somehow by waving a magic wand they will become motivated. Even if you get the world’s most respected motivational speaker, it’s unlikely to achieve anything more than a short term high. It generally does not result in the team being more motivated to work together. Why…because if there is not a clear reason, a motif for the individuals in that team, nothing much will move them. The same goes for personal motivation. Many people go searching for the magic motivation formula instead of just being clear about their purpose or reason. Jürgen höller powerdays

WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)

We generally are only motivated if the most fundamental questions are addressed: What is the point? Why should I be doing this? What’s in it for me? Why is this relevant to me?

In order to be motivated there needs to be something in it for you. Even if you are motivated to help others, it makes you feel good; it gives you satisfaction, a purpose. You need to create and have a good reason to put in continuous effort. Why else would you put in the effort and generally give up doing something else that you might otherwise enjoy?

Did you ever wonder why you had to do certain subjects at school that did not particularly interest you? The answer probably was ‘because it is part of the curriculum’. Did this motivate and inspire you to do well? While you probably complied – as not doing so probably had negative consequences – you certainly did not undertake the task feeling motivated, eager and excited.