Emotional Comptence 4: Motivation is More Complicated than you Might Think

Following on from the last article on emotional competence1, we now get to the last of the three areas of Personal Competence; Motivation.

Motivation is an interesting subject, it’s our “oomph” to get moving. Motivation can be either extrinsic (from the outside); “I want to do better than the other team; I want to do it to impress so-an-so”, etc.). Or it can be intrinsic (from the inside). Intrinsic motivation is by far the most powerful, after all, you want to do something because you want it for no other reason outside of yourself; “I want to do it for me”.

A classic example for extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation might be the person who wants to stop smoking.  If a person says they want to stop because ‘the Dr. has told them to’, or because ‘their partner wants them to’ – this is extrinsic, the reason is because of someone or something else. However, if they say they want to stop ‘because I want to be healthier/don’t want to die early’, or because they ‘want to feel more energised’, this is intrinsic motivation.

Motivation also has towards and away from aspects. Towards in the above example is the ‘want to be healthier’, it’s goal or pleasure oriented. Away from in the same example is the ‘don’t want to die’ bit. It’s avoiding some kind of pain or loss.

The danger from having just an away from motivation is that as soon as the pressure is off, you slow down and quit. If someone wants to get fit because their doctor said they’re in danger of having a heart attack, as soon as that danger is past and they’re no longer at risk, the motivation wanes and exercise and healthy habits will begin to slip. In this scenario, there’s the danger of falling into a cycle of being at risk, getting a bit better, then slipping back to being at risk again.

The danger of just a towards motivation can be that the person becomes so single minded on achieving the goal, that they ignore the effect it has on other areas of their life, e.g. they become so obsessed with fitness or exercise to the detriment of their relationships or work.

Ideally, there’s an optimal balance of both towards and away intrinsic motivation. When you think of the reality of combining different aspects of towards/away and intrinsic/extrinsic motivation and realise that each of these areas are on a kind of sliding scale, it shows the depth and complexity of what motivation actually is. From a Neuro-Semantic perspective, motivation also relates to meaning. A lack of meaning = lack of motivation. And meaning is on a sliding scale too! Meaning is your big Why; why is this so important? And meanings are mostly unconscious. In Self-Leadership training we go really deep on this and learn to access incredibly wonderful why’s that inspire and drive us – there’s never a lack of motivation if you’ve got a big enough why!

As a coach, I determine a person’s motivational structure guide them to the optimal state to create a powerful sense of determination and follow through to achieve the outstanding goals a client may have. If you want to achieve something outstanding, drop me a line, alan@optimum-mind.com and start your motivational journey towards your dreams.

  1. ‘Working With Emotional Intelligence’ – Daniel Goleman

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