Episode Transcript

Hello, everybody. I’m Steven Nathenson, CEO, and Founder of Strive For More. And today I want to talk about motivation. What is it? What does it consist of? And how does it help us? And how can we harness? Those four things we’re going to get into? So, let’s dig right in and just define, well, what is motivation? And motivation simply put, is the drive to create a specific outcome that we’re looking for. Whether it’s running, whether it’s learning something new, whether it’s meeting somebody, whether it’s getting a new job, motivation is the driver that causes us to take action to reach that specific outcome that we’re looking for. And it comes in many different forms. It can come in something that’s internal to us or intrinsic, or it could come from something that’s external to us, also known as extrinsic motivation. So, internal or intrinsic motivation and external or extrinsic motivation.

There’s varying degrees of extrinsic, and we’re going to get into that into a moment, but let’s talk about internal for a first. Internal motivation is the strongest form of motivation. We’re doing something because of the pure joy of it. The love of it. I love running, I really do. And I know some people are listening like, “It’s not for me.” And it wasn’t, actually, at one point in my life had no desire to run, but I’ve really come to enjoy it. And so, I do it for the pure joy of it. It’s the same thing with my triathlons and the races that I do. I truly love competing against myself and getting better. And that drives me because of that pure joy, that pure love for that sport and everything that goes into it. That is the strongest form of motivation. And that is something for us to strive for, especially for say, bosses talking about employees, how do we get them to be intrinsically motivated? That’s for later down the road.

Today, we’re just going to talk about the basics of it. When we talk about external motivation, that isn’t as strong as internal motivation. Now, we can get close with that, but we can also get very far away from that because we haven’t talked about another critical aspect of motivation yet, and that is amotivation, meaning not motivated. De-motivating something, excuse me, having the complete opposite effect and impact that we want. So, you really go from amotivation, completely no motivation or being de-motivated, no way that’s going to happen to, I absolutely love this and I’m purely motivated for that love and enjoyment of doing this. And then sandwiched in between is a range of external motivation, and that can be very short-lived like a consequence. You don’t do this, you’re going to get fired. But that stuff typically only lasts a short time.

Then on the closer end of the spectrum of the external motivation to being intrinsically motivated or internally motivated is giving, say an employee, something to do that aligns with who they are. They see the true value in it. There’s a wide range of how we can motivate other people. Now, with that foundation, there’s still that question of, well, how do I actually do that? All right. I understand I can either motivate somebody for a short time or I can motivate them for a much longer time and be very close to them, purely enjoying it, but how do we do that? Couple of things for that, the first of which is, what do we typically chalk up as motivation for us as human beings? How can we maybe easily chunk this up to understand what does motivate us?

And the answer to that is five typical buckets. Consequences, I can be motivated to avoid a consequence like getting fired. That could be a motivator. Similar to that, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, I could be motivated to achieve a reward. “Hey, I want to get the president’s award from my company for say the top salesperson in this organization.” That reward can motivate me. I can also be motivated by a goal. Take my running, for instance, I have a goal of getting faster in the specific times that I’m trying to hit. That goal can motivate me to work hard towards it. And then the other two things that round this out is equity. So, fighting, for say, equality and fairness, that’s another bucket. And then the last one is needs. What do we need as human beings?

There’s a lot of different theories out there on needs. The one I like is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It breaks it down in a very nice order and essentially talks about what do we need as basic human needs as human beings to fulfill like food, water, shelter, air to breathe, those kind of things. And then it ramps all the way up to self-actualization needs, things like being very challenged, intellectually stimulated. There’s a wide variety of needs in there that he presents that give us insights into what can drive our motivation as human beings is I need to fulfill that.

So, typically, if we talking about jobs for a second, because that’s been a theme today is we’re motivated to have financial security to support ourselves, to be able to live, and that motivates me to show up to work. Now, as we said, that can wane because that’s maybe externally motivated is that person provides me financial security, but maybe I hate my job, I hate what I do. That can start shifting and falling by the wayside, which is why that we actually change jobs. We leave, we go somewhere else because it starts to get shipped away. It doesn’t last as long as I’m doing this job purely because I absolutely love it. So, equity, rewards, consequences, goals, and needs are five typical buckets that we can chunk up into what motivates us as human beings.

So, if that can give us a little insight into how other people are motivated and have conversations with them, or look back on our experiences with them, they really kind of see where do they fall? Where do I fall? And I’ll ask you, where do you fall? Do you even know what motivates you? Can you see similarities in what does drive you to take action in any of these areas? Goals, for instance, needs, financial security, fighting for what’s right in this country and in this world that is unfortunately right now at a disparity and is not equal. There’s a lot of real-world examples going on right now to illustrate these buckets for us.

So, what does motivate you? Do you even know? Does this help start characterizing it for you? One last thing that I’ll mention on motivation is to be motivated, to strive for that self-actualization. That motivation for the pure joy it. There’s three human needs that are these precursors, these things that support us in that pursuit. There are autonomy competence and relatedness. Now, autonomy, it’s very similar to what we typically think of, but there’s an added thing in there. It’s not just, “Oh, I’m capable of say working on my own and not needing a supervisor.” In this autonomy, it’s, “I really have control of my own destiny. I have the freedom of choice to choose what I do and how I do it.” That’s autonomy, choice over my own actions. Competence, that’s the confidence into being able to do what I want to achieve and knowing it’s going to have the impact that I want.

And relatedness is really about connection. Not only do I feel like I’m connected and a part of something, I’m cared for, I’m wanted, as example. But I also reciprocated, I do things out of the kindness of my own heart for others. When I feel like I’m related, I’m connected, in other words, to people around me. I’m competent and I have that freedom of choice, I’m autonomous. It’s much easier for me to be purely motivated. I’ll share my running as an example here, just to illustrate these needs. I have the absolute freedom of choice for me to train in the way that I wanted. I’ve hired a coach that gives me a plan, but in there, there’s enough trust between us that I have the freedom to flex if I need to.

Yes, I want some workouts to stick to what they’ve prescribed to me, and I do want to do those workouts, but a very real-world thing I’m going through right now is I have something going on with my ankle. And I know, for me, based on what it felt like when it started tweaking itself, I should stay off of it. And I have that freedom and autonomy, that freedom of choice to choose how I’m going to do that. I don’t feel micromanaged by my coach and that freedom’s completely gone. Yes, they give me guidelines, but I have that freedom of choice and I have that autonomy to really go about it in a way that’s going to be best for me. Now, competence, I’ve got a lot of experience as a runner. I know what I’m capable of. I know what I’ve done in races. I know what I’m even capable of getting to when I apply myself, hence why I’ve actually gotten a coach to help me overcome some hurdles and challenges and to have more accountability in there, but I am very competent in my capabilities of bringing about those goals.

And I feel very connected to my coach, to the team, to the people around me in my community that are runners, and I would go out of my way for them. That connection is very important, especially when we’re talking about being in work, when we’re isolated, do we feel like we’re connected? Well, maybe not right now with the pandemic and everyone being remote. It’s a really real question because when I don’t feel connected or related, I am very less likely to maybe put as much effort into something as I would have otherwise, because I may not feel like I’m actually valued or cared for. It can definitely wane our motivation.

So, for me, as an individual competing in triathlons and marathons, I do have autonomy, competence, and relatedness in addition to being purely in love with going flat out and run and bike or swim and just going. That’s what I really enjoy. And it’s important to also see that I have that connection, the competence, and the autonomy, because even if I really loved running, if I didn’t feel like I was perhaps capable of getting better, those negative thoughts, those non-serving thoughts could creep in, start chipping away at, do you really want to go and do that run today because there may not be a point in it.

So, they really are some critical underlying needs that we have to have met to be purely motivated and driven to achieve what we want. So, I hope you enjoyed today, you got something out of it. I hope this crafted a little bit more context around what motivation is, what we can typically chunk it up into in terms of these five buckets, what we need inherently as human beings to really reach and strive for that strongest sense of motivation. The self-actualization one, the intrinsic motivation, going for the pure joy of it. And then also, as someone trying to motivate others, there’s a wide range. Rewards and consequences can often be very short-lived, but if I can align what someone’s going to do with who they truly are and what they value, now we’re starting to hit home. So, until the next time, be the movement in your life.


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