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When it comes to motivation, we often wonder how to motivate others – at work it’s about employee motivation whereas at home it might be motivating our kids. The best place to get answers lies within ourselves. Literally.

What motivates you? If we are able to answer this and gain insights, we would probably better grasp the concept of motivation and start applying it not just to ourselves, but to others as well.

The first thing to understand about motivation is that there are external motivations and internal motivations. The quick bottom line to this is that internal motivations have been proven to be far more effective than external motivations and also a combination of internal and external motivations.

So, let’s focus on internal motivations. Every individual is unique – my internal motivation might be different from what motivates someone else. Often, the way we prefer to think and how we prefer to behave plays a part in determining what motivates or drives us. Here’s an example:

If I was someone who prefers expressing myself in a quiet way, then I might not enjoy attending networking sessions or meeting new people. However, if I also prefer thinking in an analytical way, then perhaps I can motivate myself by understanding the purpose of the networking session. If there is a good reason to go, I will probably be able to convince myself to meet all these new people.

But, understanding how we think leads us to another issue – is motivation really what drives us?

This article was an eye-opening read. In short, it says that for most of us, motivation isn’t the problem. It’s follow-through. The author, Peter Bregman, writes “Motivation is in the mind; follow-through is in the practice. Motivation is conceptual; follow-through is practical. In fact, the solution to a motivation problem is the exact opposite of the solution to a follow through problem. The mind is essential to motivation. But with follow through, it’s the mind that gets in the way.”

Absolutely brilliant insight!

With Emergenetics, we believe that each attribute or preference we have can yield both strengths and blind spots. Here’s an elaboration based on the above example:

If I had already convinced myself that there is a good purpose to attend the networking session, when the time comes to really attend it, my mind may also derive new reasons why the original motivation may not be a good one. I may ask “what’s the real value?” or perhaps “can my time be better spent doing something else?” In short, the same thinking preference that had motivated me may eventually also derail me when it is time to execute.

Bregman shares “Here’s the key: if you want to follow through on something, stop thinking.”

My take on this is that it is possible to stop thinking about it only if we are first aware of what we are thinking about, and what it is that gets in the way. Self-awareness is key! That said, there are some helpful suggestions in Bergman’s article and the one that immediately strikes me is about creating your environment to support your goals. It’s reminiscent of a blog post that my colleague wrote about optimising our decision-making processes. Read about it here!

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