Simple leadership musings from the trenches: motivation
"Motivating" people is unsustainable, if not completely unrealistic for any period of time, or at any true depth. If the motivation comes from an extrinsic place, ie. "I'm going to motivate you" (oy) or "Please motivate me" (yikes), it won't stick. It may stick for a bit - enough to get the rush going, but it won't sustain, and next time around, you'll need to do it all over again - from the outside in. I've begun to think of external motivation like a drug (or maybe like that 5-hour energy drink stuff) - the more one gets, the more one needs, the more often one needs it, and the shorter the rush. One develops a tolerance to it. (Think exercise, healthy eating, smoking cessation, performance improvement for financial incentives, "getting along with someone", getting organized, etc. They all may work for a bit when pushed/pulled from the outside, but for how long? And how enjoyable will the process be? That's key.) Of course, sometimes we all need a "kick start" or to "fake it til we make it" and that's when that external motivation can help us "get to the other side", I'm talking long term sustainable joyful internal motivation - no one can take that way from you.
Solution: Help folks tap into their true core beliefs and purpose and what they truly want, and that will be intrinsic motivation enough. I find that if I have to motivate my clients, or help them motivate their teams, we're likely looking in the wrong area, we're missing something. Helping them unfold what's true and important for them turns into self propelling inspiration, which turns into renewable energy and sustainable fuel for intrinsic motivation - powerful! I'd assert that as leaders, our job is not to motivate people but rather to help them tap into their own intrinsic motivation systems and work and live from there. (Lots of ways to do that - if this interests you, ping me, and if there's enough interest, I'll write a future article or lead a call about it.)
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