by Philip Palmer

Motivation is one of those words which conjures up a variety of meanings for people.

In the world of personal development, motivation is deemed to be the one major characteristic which is needed in order to succeed.  In spiritual development, motivation is a clear technique to achieving a successful outcome.

What can be missing though, is a direction, a journey.

Let me backtrack.

To move forward, you need a destination – of sorts

The prime drive to achieving what Maslow would call self-actualisation, was the need to PLAN; to set a direction, plan the journey and have an outcome in mind.  There are still schools of thought which maintain that this is the only way to achieve.

My own ‘school of thought’ often took me to think about how I could be flexible to amend my plans based on feedback, successes or re-thinks, re-assessing whether what I thought I wanted was what I really wanted and to even ask myself if I really wanted ‘it’ or whether my goal was driven by others.

The analogy I used was getting to the top of the ladder only to realize that I was on the top of the wrong ladder!

I didn’t lack the motivation and often didn’t get the outcome I was looking for.

Motivation for me is what I call The Driver.  The analogy is a car going at 60 mph on a 3 lane highway with no one steering.  Having lots of motivation but either no clear journey or outcome is wasting the engine!


What ’causes’ motivation?

So, what ‘causes’ motivation then?  I don’t believe it is something that can be trained; I DO believe that it’s something that can be nurtured and grown.  I believe all of us have inbuilt motivation.

What can be missing is the link between motivation and WIIFM [What’s In It For Me, at its crudest level].

In order to engage someone into an activity, it is necessary to help that individual see a clear and direct link between the effort they will need to expend and the result they can [at least] expect.

The approach that may be needed will depend on the person’s Learning Style [as identified by Honey and Mumford] as well as their preferences/attractions in terms of different profiling systems – I use Birkman which has 11 different components that highlight individual preferences in relation to how people spend their time.

Another of the methods I have used in the past asks three questions:

  • Given you could do ANYTHING, what would it be?
  • Given you have all the resources you would ever need, what would you do?
  • Given a clean sheet and total control what would bring you most joy?

The answers to these questions will provide lots of discussion material as they directly link to the individual’s sense of effort and sense of achievement.

In a coaching environment, answers to these questions can often help the individual to identify for themselves where they are stuck, what needs to happen next; what needs to be their next steps and what they need others to do.

We also need to recognize that for some people, motivation comes from a challenge being set.

For many people, research also shows that if they had known what they had to go through in order to achieve the ‘goal’ they may never have started the journey!!

Think about what your own motivators are; what draws you and what repels you?

Answers to this question and the above three questions will help you to better understand yourself and the way in which you make progress in the world.