Monday Mornings with Madison

Motivation and Inspiration: Two Key Ingredients for Success

Part 1:  Getting Motivated

Much has been written about both motivation and inspiration.  People often use the words ‘motivated’ and ‘inspired’ interchangeably.  Yet, the two words are actually not synonymous.

Motivation is when an individual brings his/her own impetus to a job, task or action.  According to Websters, it is defined as “the force that drives an organism to act towards a desired goal and elicits, controls, and sustains goal-directed behaviors.”  Motivation is rooted in a basic impulse to optimize well-being, minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure.  For example, when a person is motivated to do a job well, there is an internal force compelling him/her to optimize their own well-being.  What triggers the motivation might be an internal value such as wanting to do a job well or desiring to overcome a challenge, or the trigger may be an external factor such as getting recognition, be promoted, get a raise or earn a bonus.  But regardless of whether the trigger comes from within or outside, the motivation to act is a personal force.

Inspiration, on the other hand, is not an internal, personal force. It is a stimulation from an outside source that spurs a person to special or unusual activity or creativity.  Inspiration can come from another person that acts like a muse or coach.  There is also divine inspiration; a spiritual push or rousing that compels or prompts a person to act.

Although they might lead to the same outcome, what differentiates them has to do with the source.  Motivation – even when linked to external forces – ultimately comes from within whereas inspiration comes from outside.  Motivation is a personal responsibility while inspiration is the responsibility of others.  Let’s start with our own behavior.  How does one motivate oneself?

Motivation:  Know Thyself

Few business topics derive more comment for fodder than motivation (except perhaps for sales), especially how to ‘get motivated.’  Google has nearly 76,000,000 pages that index for the keywords ‘get motivated.’  Clearly, people are desperate for ways to get motivated to do whatever it is they need to do.

The first step in being able to motivate oneself is to know one’s triggers.  For every person, it is different, which may explain – in part — why there are 76 million pages on the Web devoted to the topic.  A salesperson, for example, may be motivated to close the deal because of a desire to optimize his/her well being.  To achieve that, the trigger might be compensation.  Or the trigger might be competitiveness to be the best salesperson in the company.  On the other hand, an Operations Manager may be motivated by ambition and a desire for success.  The trigger might be to win recognition as Employee of the Month.  Or the trigger might be to earn a year-end bonus.  What is important is for each person to understand what triggers motivate them and then use those triggers as needed.

To help identify triggers and maximize the opportunity to feel motivated, here are four strategies to help tap into and maximize the effectiveness of one’s own personal triggers.

Prioritize and Focus

Clutter, distractions, interruptions, and disorganization are barriers to connecting with triggers.  If too much is going on at once, a sense of discouragement can set in in trying to figure out how to juggle it all and be all things to all people.  This in turn generates stress, which acts as a barrier to motivation.  To combat this, take a little time to organize the work area, cut out distractions and block interruptions.  Once priorities are set and the surrounding environment is primed for creativity, productivity and ingenuity, then it is possible to use strategies such as visualization, sharing, brainstorming, list-making, etc. to help triggers emerge.  For example, for some, it helps to visualize what it would be like to be successful; envisioning the benefits of a promotion or raise.  With that picture in mind, it becomes easier to let that energy be the driving force.

Set Goals

The more you think concretely about something, the better the chance it will become a reality.  Keep your goal at the forefront of your mind. If possible, post notes or pictures that help keep the goal in mind.  If the goal is to write a book, draw a book cover with the title (or working title) and put that up at your desk.  If the goal is to expand operations to another city, put a map of that city on the wall.   Make a plan to take a small step every day to move toward the goal. Small reminders and actions serve as fuel for motivation. Focus on the goal, not on the fact that the goal has not been met yet.

Seek Support

It can be hard to get motivated alone, especially when trying to change a habit.  That is why most programs to lose weight, stop smoking, and other habits include a component of group support.  Being surrounded by people who have had success doing the very thing you are working to achieve can help set off personal triggers of motivation.  A community of like-minded individuals can lend insight on ways to get and stay motivated to achieve the same goal.

Stay Positive

We are taught to be critical and judgmental.  Negative thinking puts out the fire of motivation.  Avoid thinking about obstacles.  When making a plan, find ways to overcome the obstacles and then keep moving.   It is best to focus on the goal, outcome and especially the benefits.  For someone job-hunting, for example, it is better to focus on the benefits of landing a specific job such as the financial stability, fringe benefits and career growth opportunities than to think about the repetitive application and interview process.  Directing energy to the desired goal is less draining and allows triggers to work effectively.

Next week, we’ll examine how to use inspiration, along with motivation, to achieve success.

Quote of the Week

“People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.” Andrew Carnegie


© 2013, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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