Motivation: Not a Dirty Word

Have you ever felt misunderstood? Have you ever had a fierce argument and then wondered what it was all about? Have you ever felt good about how you handled a situation and then later learned that someone didn't like what you said or did? If you answered “yes” to any one of these questions, you will benefit from understanding motivation.

Motivation is the reason “why” people do the things they do. It is actually impossible to motivate anyone else because all true motivation is self-motivation. It's like a lady going to her doctor saying, “My husband makes me sick.” The doctor said, “I don't want to hear you talk like that. Your husband can make you sick - only you can make you sick.” The woman thought about that and said, “Well, if that's true, I make myself sick a lot more when he's around then when he isn't.”

We can't motivate others but the good news is that all people are already motivated. People are motivated by two types of drives: needs and values. Our most basic needs are physical. To ensure our survival, we need food, shelter, sleep, liquid, and oxygen. But once or physical needs have been satisfied, the need for safety emerges. When people are safe from harm, injury, or loss, then a third level of need for love, affection or belonging emerges. When these needs are satisfied then the need for esteem arises, which includes the desire for mastery, independence and respect for others.

Abraham Maslow and subsequent researchers found that needs could be divided into three basic categories: (1) existence level needs such as survival and security, (2)  relationship level needs such as belonging, affection and love, and (3) growth level needs such as achievement and fulfillment. Self-fulfillment means the motivation of people to grow in a direction that allows them to use their potential according to their goals, expectations, or purpose in life.

Values are the standards that guide our lives. People use these guideposts to make life choices in all areas of their lives - choices such as what clothes to buy and wear, what kind of car to drive, where to live, whom to marry, what church to attend, etc. A values system is an individual's organized way of thinking which is shaped by his or her standards. These organized points-of-view make up the range of each person's beliefs and disbelieves.

The level of motivation is the state of energy which directs an individual's behavior. All people are driven by positive or negative energy. The type of motivation refers to the use of people's energy. Remember, motivation is “why people do the things they do.” When people can identify the reasons they do things, they then can motivate themselves toward more productive and satisfying lives. And when an individual can identify the reasons others do what they do, that individual can help create an environment in which those others are more likely to be productively self-motivated. Stop for a minute and consider what this means to you. If you are a parent and you understand your son's motivation, you can create an environment where he is more likely to be productively self-motivated. Does that mean that you may be able to get him to motivate yourself to clean his room? The answer is yes! Or, if you're a manager who clearly understands an employee's motivations, you can help provide a working environment where she can motivate herself. Does that mean that you may be able to get her to motivate herself in a way that can further improve her job performance? The answer is yes! The basic principles that govern all behaviors are:                                                                                                                    *People have natural ways of behaving which can be predicted.                      *People use different behaviors to get their needs met.                                      *People are naturally motivated to get their needs met.                                      *When you understand someone, you can then better predict their behavior.

The principle I mentioned at the beginning of this article: People are motivated for their reasons, not yours! So, the best way to get what you want is to help someone else get what they want. Try it - it works.

But wait, there’s more: THE SCOTTISH RITE CREED (thanks to Dr. Bob Nelson)  Human progress is our cause, liberty of thought our supreme wish, freedom of conscience our mission, and the guarantee of equal rights to all people everywhere our ultimate goal.

t the la     © Dick Caldwell 2012