Superpowers: Motivation

I was in an airport and I needed coffee. I was with colleagues and I walked up to the coffee stand. In my mind I saw the Starbucks symbol and I was approaching. I never look at the menu I always get the same thing – medium (I don’t do the grande, tall stuff) room for cream. I see the same type of breakfast sandwiches in the cooler. I order. I ask, “Do you take this?” handing her my my Starbuck reward card. She said, “No we don’t take that.” So I am still thinking I am at a Starbucks, some airport or mall kiosks don’t take them. Then my friend says, “you really want this to be Starbucks.”  I didn’t really, I just had it in my mind that was where I was. It was my perception….
Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Lewis Carroll
What moves us in the right direction? It really springs from motivation. This impulse of movement, either in the physical action or the click of a thought, emanates from within our own being. Our inborn ability is the source of motivation. Many use the phrase that something was motivating, or that a speaker really motivated us. We tend to give away our own super powers.  Those external influences may have stimulated our thought process, but the real ability to start…to begin…to jump is internal. It is our raw ability in action.

Movere – to move

I was re-reading, Leadership Skills, by Emily Morrison. She presents that motivation isn’t an external thing at all. Motivation is an internal thing, it comes from within. The word derives from the Latin word, movere, to move. She posits that it is moving toward à a need. The interaction with others is more a stimulus to action or to incite some sense inner desire. Henry Thompson writes on stress and why smart leaders make dumb decisions (The Stress Effect). His work supports this idea “that motivation has an innate core” (p. 28).  This motivation is energy that helps one to move to action.

This make a lot of sense. How many of us find ANYTHING else to do when we have something looming over us. Have you ever been that person that had to write a paper, do homework, or finish your taxes and all of a sudden…the clutter on the top of the refrigerator was unbearable. Or the uncontrollable need to alphabetize the spices was so overwhelming it had to be completed first. We are not motivated to do the actual task. Why is there a line at the post office at 11:55 pm on tax day? Motivation is a powerful thing, and our understanding of how to harness and make it work for us would truly be a superpower.
“The product is what the consumer thinks it is, nothing more.”

This has been with me every day since taking Promotional Marketing in my undergraduate business major. These great words of my prof, and mentor, RC seem to constantly sneak into my conversations with others. “Perception is everything,” the complement to that phrase explains it a bit more. What more do we have to base our decisions and our actions that our perceptions? The situation is what we believe it to be.  A synonym for perception is awareness…the same thing applies to motivation. By understanding more about our thinking and how we interpret situations will help with the awareness of what we think is going on and how we are motivated to take actions.

f we are working with others, let’s say in a leadership role, understanding perception, awareness, and motivation would be helpful. When we reframe our leadership superpowers from the act of motivating others to an understanding what motivates them might help all of us. Taking the time to observe and understand the followers/leaders we engage shows respect and empathy. This switch in thinking changes the power differential as well.  By thinking that we have the ability to make someone move looks at leadership as a transaction. Understanding how others think and tend to their work so we can help to provoke or stimulate their awareness, perceptions, and motivations is more transformational. We are looking at the work we are doing as something for BOTH parties and inducing all to work for shared wants, needs, and aspirations.

Our motivational ability is from within. It is our relationship with our self. Our ability to understand what motivates others and how help them move toward their goals is a gift. How can you improve your interaction with others?
Here are some quotes I found on motivation…use them as you like.
People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents. Andrew Carnegie

You have to motivate yourself with challenges. That’s how you know you’re still alive. Jerry Seinfeld


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