Since our economic downturn began in in early 2009, I have been giving many workshops on the challenges of staying motivated and engaged when everything is changing around you. Bringing out the best in others (and in ourselves) has always been a favorite topic of mine but it has taken on more urgency in these tough times.
Motivation Isn’t That Complicated!
When people say “You can’t motivate someone else” I disagree. I think it’s actually quite easy. One just needs to understand a bit about human nature and what innately drives most of us. Pick up Daniel Pink’s book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” 2009. I think you will be pleasantly surprised that you do know what motivates us and it’s not just a crunchy carrot.
For years, business has used the “carrots and sticks” style of motivating others. Reward behavior you want and punish behavior you don’t want. These extrinsic motivators can work well for routine, non-creative work that just needs to be churned out. But our 21st century world now is far more complex and challenging. And we desperately need the best and the brightest ideas and solutions. Luckily, that’s what most of us also want. We yearn to be doing interesting, creative work that makes a difference.
So here’s the challenge. Look at your work schedule for this coming week. What responsibilities, projects and tasks are coming up for you? Now, think about what excites you, what gets your energy going, what do you think is well-worth your time. You are very likely most motivated when doing those activities because they satisfy our deeply human needs of autonomy, mastery and purpose. These intrinsic motivators are:
- To direct our own lives (autonomy)
- To learn & create new things (mastery)
- To do better by ourselves & our world (purpose)
Now ask yourself, “How could I bring more of what really motivates me into my work week?” Start by making small shifts. Keep up the momentum by acknowledging your progress each night. When you hop into bed ask yourself “Was I better today than yesterday?” Try it. It works!