Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation. How can I motivate others? (I can’t). Where does motivation develop? (Inside). Is there a difference between motivation and inspiration? (Yes, definitely). The strange thing about motivation is you must be motivated to get motivated.
Getting started is the most difficult part of motivation. Once you begin the journey, motivation grows with each step. The most important step is the first one. A person cannot move anywhere without taking that first step. But, that first step is the most risky. Motivation asks us to begin the journey without knowing where it will end. We must remember, however, that the journey is the ultimate success. Success arrives at many different points along the path – not just at the end.
These great moments of wisdom occurred during the stimulating brain activity that is Candy Crush. Yes, the game. I may have a bit of an addiction. A confusing addition, I admit. Why do I continue to play a game that regularly tells me I’ve failed to achieve the goal? As a leader and career coach, I understand this is not the usual method for encouraging a person. I’ve asked myself – what motivates me to try to reach the next level? There is no prize, no great gain. In fact, completing one level only leads to another, typically more difficult, level. Yet, I continue to try. Why?
My motivation for Candy Crush is derived from inside. A desire to prove I can accomplish the goal. Even though Candy Crush reminds me I’ve failed, I know the goal is achievable. I have the skills to be successful. The goal is just far enough out of reach to make me desire to try a little more.
This is motivation – the knowledge that I have the ability and skill to successfully accomplish the goal.
Motivation best occurs when the skill required is just a small stretch from what is already possessed by the individual. It is unlikely a pee wee baseball player would be highly motivated to play against a major league All Star – or vice versa. If a goal is too easy, a person becomes bored. Too difficult, they may stop trying.
Whether leading your team of professionals or leading your class of students, we cannot motivate individuals to accomplish any goal. Motivation comes from within. We can, however, provide inspiration, direction, and skills to allow others to be successful. Leaders support motivation by teaching the skills needed for success, by providing enough direction and inspiration to allow creativity to grow, and by giving clear indication of the goal to be achieved. At that point, motivation can grow inside each individual as they accept the challenge to begin this journey.
Leaders prepare the path and provide the direction for motivation. We must then step aside to allow others to make their way down that path – cheering on their successes and coaching through their failures. We offer encouragement, reinforcement, and support of all efforts and celebrate together at the end. This pattern paves the way and provides each individual motivation for the next journey.