By now most people have accepted that personal motivation is intrinsically born from within the individual, and subsequently can’t be conveniently and externally manufactured by others.
At best, managers, teachers and mentors alike, who are charged with the responsibility of improving skills and performance, can only go as far as setting up an environment that is conducive to stimulate that motivation and bring it to the fore.
This environment acts as a pure catalyst to fuelling those internal drivers that together fuel individual performance and drive positive outcomes.
The only caveat, then, is that the correct motivation already needs to be there to begin with.
Understanding this, it becomes a critical success factor for every individual to understand their own motivators, as well as the practical steps they can take to better achieve their personal and professional objectives. The following simple steps can help to simplify this process:
Step 1: Identify your personal drivers
The first step is to examine your own personal drivers. Namely, those factors that stimulate desire in you to continually be interested and committed to behave or act in a certain way or to achieve a goal or desired outcome.
This can result from the interaction of both conscious and unconscious factors. It is reasonable to say that motivated people usually act in a way that goes beyond what a reasonable person would do, based on the available external factors being present.
The ability to identify your key motivations and to look for supporting behaviours that validate them is critical and requires a reasonable degree of self-awareness as a key foundation for all emotional intelligence skills.
So for you personally, what are your true, sustained and most powerful personal drivers? Is it achievement, recognition, competition, variation, winning or proving others wrong that fuels your desire?
Step 2: Identify the underlying goal for this motivation
Behind every motivational impulse lies a causative need.
For example, you may feel a great urge to not be noticed at larger business meetings and feel more comfortable in the background, simply observing and recording what is happening within the meeting. You continue to act this way despite the obvious advantages of speaking up at the right times and providing appropriate content during the meeting, and in so doing demonstrating to all your knowledge, insights and potential to grow.
So why are you reluctant in these situations when it is a genuine opportunity to position yourself in the eyes of key decision makers?
Do you, for example, have an underlying fear of not knowing what you need to know in your role? Or a fear of providing feedback that may be inaccurate? Or perhaps sharing an opinion that is unpopular and against the grain of what is considered conventional wisdom?
Step 3: Address the gaps between your current and ideal motivational mix
From the example above, let us assume that you do indeed fear answering a question and providing a wrong answer based on lack of product knowledge or other technical skill.
This new awareness is the basis for change, and will provide you with the insight to understand what changes you need to make to ensure that you have the requisite knowledge and answers in future meetings.
These gaps can occur for several reasons and over a lengthy period, but once the issue is identified and appropriate is action taken, the solution to bridging this gap can occur quickly and successfully.
Step 4: Identify the valued alternative outcomes that these missing motivators will bring you
By envisaging the alternative outcome that these behavioural changes will provide over time, and how these new outcomes will benefit and drive greater achievement and success for you, it becomes apparent that the processes being followed are the right ones to gain future success regardless of what they might be.
Positive contributions during a meeting could:
- Position you positively for a future role within a new area
- Provide proof of your expertise in this field
- Earn you recognition within your peer group
- Drive positive changes within your business
Step 5: Realign your new behaviour sets
Realign your new behaviour sets to these revised motivations, and focus on the value that those alternative outcomes will provide you over time.
Behavioural science has clearly demonstrated repeatedly that around three to four weeks of continuous focus on new behaviours leads to them becoming ingrained as new habits that delete and replace earlier, unwanted habits, be they professionally based or otherwise.
It is important to always remember that people are different and will have different types of motivation and to different degrees. There should be no judgement made here, as there is no right or wrong.
You can, however, make simple observations of those behaviours, and a logical analysis made of how well or otherwise they align to your stated goals.
From this, a proactive action plan that emphasises practical, tactical steps can be developed and implemented to make any necessary adjustments that will drive more productive and successful long-term outcomes.
Daniele Lima is the managing director of Road Scholars Training & Strategic Consultancy and the author of The Practical Guide to Selling with Emotional Intelligence.