Mastering Motivation and Drive

Mastering Motivation and Drive

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“Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.”
Donald Trump

What is your motivation? What drives you?

What gets you out of bed in the morning? Excitement and optimism for the day ahead? Or maybe there are days when you don’t even want to get out of bed…

Once you know how you can really motivate yourself and others and how to apply motivation in practice, you can use it to positive effect in every part of human life. Getting out of bed feeling consistently eager and driven, throughout your life, is key to achieving great things!

Discovering the keys to human motivation can impact everything from your marketing or staff development in business, to marriage and bringing up children in your personal life.

Some people are driven by extrinsic or external pleasures like other people’s praise, money, or fame; or through fear of being fined, losing money, or being reprimanded. Others are motivated by intrinsic factors or qualities like personal satisfaction, pride, sense of achievement; or from fear of feeling a failure, being disappointed with themselves, or losing face.

So people can be excited into action by either extrinsic or intrinsic motivators – and by either moving ‘towards pleasure’ or ‘away from pain’. Or any combination of both.

Evidence proves that intrinsic motivation towards a goal is more effective and productive in the long term – so if you can encourage this, you will really accelerate yourself, your business, your family and other people forward. Drive your life by harnessing your drive.

Many systems in business and in life are broken because they do not take into account higher levels of human motivation. If you appreciate that the world is largely built using a combination of the carrot and the stick, you will realise the wider impact that such a reward and punishment set-up has on society, such as increased dissatisfaction and depression.

Understanding that incentives or sanctions don’t often work offers abundant opportunities for transformative improvement. If law firms and accountants realised that the hourly rate destroys excellence and productivity; or the school system realised that it is reducing motivation through a rigid curriculum – a necessary step-change would have to occur. The application of disruptive technology is already creating change. If companies, individuals, families or virtually every societal model or system utilised the full potential of human motivation it would have a revolutionary effect: a massive impact on the world. It is a wonderfully simple task to start the revolution. Motivate people properly!

Businesses are blatantly ignoring what science has proven – by using motivators that hardly ever work! In the 70s, an experiment conducted by scientist Sam Glucksberg added incentives for one group to complete a task, offering them money to solve a problem quickly. For another group, he simply said he was going to time them. The incentivized group averaged three and a half minutes longer than the timed group. Despite the evidence that incentives don’t really work, the standard operating systems in business these days are still “built entirely around these extrinsic motivators, around carrots and sticks,” according to Daniel Pink in his book Drive.

For tasks requiring only mechanical skills, bonuses can still work. But experiments have shown that in anything asking for even a low level of cognitive skill, offering a larger reward led to poorer performance. Economists at the London School of Economics examined 51 studies of pay-for-performance plans and found that financial incentives actually negatively impact people’s overall performance.

This provides a mind blowing argument against performance-related pay!

Much routine, rule-based, left-brain work is largely being automated or outsourced in business these days, anyway and is disappearing rapidly. Whilst ‘carrot and stick’ may have been a good motivational tool during the industrial revolution, it certainly isn’t a good one during the information revolution. More right-brained, creative thinking is often required.

So how can you really motivate people?

How do you provide the basis for a revolutionary system for both business and life? Simply by using three things: encourage more autonomy, mastery and purpose as intrinsic motivators to supercharge performance.

● Autonomy is self-determination, and directing your own life.
● Mastery is getting better at something that’s important to you.
● Purpose is a passion for doing something that matters to you.

For jobs requiring any cognitive skills, intrinsic motivators that give employees autonomy, mastery and purpose will always beat extrinsic motivators. It’s not that money doesn’t matter at all. Companies should still pay people reasonably, but then give staff a good deal of autonomy alongside their remuneration.

Tap into passion! Take the examples of companies like Google’s 20% Time program, which provide their staff with days ‘free’ to experiment and work on whatever they wish during their working time. They have autonomy in deciding what to work on, enabling them to employ mastery, with a sense of purpose. These specific days produce remarkable new products, services and software fixes that would never have existed. About half of all new products developed each year for Google were created during this 20% Time, including Gmail and Google News.

People don’t have to be employed full-time in your building to achieve high performance. In fact many of the most productive staff are given freedom to telework or freedom to schedule their own achievement. Give someone a task, and let them do it. One example of this is the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) is a management strategy where employees are evaluated on performance and paid for results (output), not simply for their presence in the office or number of hours worked. Operating in several companies, ROWE means that people are not managed and do not have fixed schedules. They have autonomy, which again enables them to practice mastery and purpose. As long as they get their work done, how they do it is entirely up to them. Companies using ROWE have greater productivity, increased worker satisfaction and engagement, and decreased staff turnover.

The Open Source Movement is an awesome example of this philosophy in action. It allows sharing of software and encourages collaboration by enthusiasts and users in developing improvements and applications – through users’ own self-determination, developing mastery, and using passion and purpose. Anyone with a licence can make modifications and use the software, and this has allowed smaller businesses to participate in the global economy – having massive effects and benefits. Microsoft’s online encyclopedia Encarta employed well-paid managers and professionals to write and edit all articles – and failed. In contrast, Wikipedia doesn’t pay its contributors at all – they find it fun and rewarding to write for nothing, and it thrives. That is – they have those three magic ingredients again – autonomy, mastery and purpose!

It’s vital to recognise that motivation by carrots and sticks, or financial incentives, do not work for all tasks. What really works to push great performance are autonomy, mastery and purpose.

● How can you have more autonomy?
● How can other people have more autonomy?
● How will you develop your own mastery?
● How will you encourage those around you to develop mastery themselves?
● What is your purpose?
● How will you support others to identify and practise their own purpose?
● What really drives you?
● Do you know what drives those around you?

Moreover, how can you change your business practices and how you run all aspects of your life, to superdrive your drive, and other people’s?

If the above topic, or indeed any of my blogs are of interest to you, then contact me and let’s talk! Drop me an email at

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