Why is that most of us like to motivate others to do something? Partners, organizations their employees, and so forth; all these happens because the motivator often has an agenda either personal or out of good will.
But it is not that easy to motivate another person. Why? Because not only do different people have different motivators, there is also the issue of timing, the timing has to be right, when it is needed and asked for. So, what can we do, and what will bring lasting results? We need to figure out what already motivates a person and tap into that. But often many parents or managers don’t do this.
I used to own a residential electrical services company and as part of promotion I sent out my flyers along with a 50w halogen light bulb thinking that everyone would love to have a free light bulb and because of my generosity they would certainly call me for their business, right?! Wrong! I forgot to ask people if they even want a light bulb.
One time I saw one of the homeowners I sent out the light bulbs to and asked him did you receive the light bulb? He said “Yes”, and then I asked did you see the flyer came with it? He said “No”, “I threw both out” he said. I asked how come? He said “because I didn’t need a halogen bulb nor had time to read a flyer from God knows where”. He further added: “money or redeemable coupon would have motivated me not a useless yet expensive bulb”. Those types of motivators are referred to as extrinsic motivators which are characterized as being short-lived, less potent, relatively easy to provide, and quick to motivate. On the other hand, there are intrinsic motivators that are more difficult to provide, more potent, have longer life span, and are gradually built e.g., praise (although one might argue that giving praise is easier than say giving pay raise, praise requires speaking to the heart of a person, needing to learn more about a person’s psyche, wants, needs, and desires and then target those spots to motivate that person). Moreover, there are positive versus negative motivators. Positive motivators are the one that are uplifting and energizing such as hope, positive self-talk, or having a positive outlook of self or things in life. Negative motivators, on the other hand, are things such as negative self-talk, negative attitude towards self and life, and fear (fear of failure, fear of no respect, the impostor syndrome, and the like), although fear is a motivator, it, however, doesn’t last long because people, in essence, are good and positive.
The main weakness of all these motivators is that they wear off and unfortunately people often use those motivators since they have been publicized the most in literature and media. To motivate someone the question is not, “How can one motivate an individual?” It is, “How one can create an environment that taps into the existing motivators within that individual?” the logic behind this is based on a simple yet challenging concept and that is people must live with what they have and not what they want/wish for. We can aim towards what we want/wish but we can’t live in a dream.
The fact of the matter is that true and lasting motivation takes place at an individual level and one person at a time. It must be tailored to meet the individual’s needs, culture, and trigger points. And once a motivator recognizes those trigger points then s/he can provide a supporting environment for them. Having said that, there are common stimuli among people, the ones that stick and make people wanting to take risks and change their behaviors (we are not talking about changing characters here). People commonly desire recognition, respect, success, financial stability, peace of mind, admiration and love/care. Therefore, we need to find out what drives people’s behavior, in short, we need to pay attention to What’s in it for me? And learning about that is the secret to motivation. To find out about “What’s in it for me?” we need to go through these strategies:
I. Paying attention and show genuine interest to what people talk about, what interests them, through this exercise we can learn what naturally motivates them.
II. Ask questions about what can you do to motivate them.
III. Find out what de-motivates someone and then stop doing it.
Jack London is an American novelist born in 1876. His biological mother was suffering from emotional and mental disorder and attempted suicide when she was pregnant. She shot herself after news of the pregnancy when William Chaney, her husband at the time, demanded that she have an abortion. She put Jack for adoption right after he was born. In 1897 Jack quit Berkley and moved to Klondike to live in the wilderness for a year because of his emotional problems concerning his biological father and how he treated Jack and his mother. When he came back he had committed to mastering the art of writing and decided to write at least 1,000 words per day regardless of the situation he is in. He believed that mastery would come only through this method, hence, worked from sunup until sundown, every single day without fail.
Yet, he faced rejection and failure after failure from the newspapers and magazines. No one was willing to publish his writing. However, by 1899, after the rise of lower-priced technologies for printing presses his first story was eventually published. In that year, he had earned a respectable $2,500 through his writing. However, London went through more than 50 separate rejections during a 5-month period of sending out his work and writing to various publishers. A few years later, in 1903, at the age of 27, London’s celebrated novel, The Call of the Wild was published that made him a famous author.
London, like many other self-made success stories, overcame the challenges life had thrown at him right from the beginning of his life, and did that just by believing in himself and recognizing his own motivators and strengths.
Author Bio: Dr. Harry G. Nejad
Research Scientist and Mental Health Counselor
Member of National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH). NGH ID: 40426