Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What Motivates?

"Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean that no one's out to get you."


We find our hero sitting at his desk, a deadline looming. The boss is away, the lab is quiet, and the course of action clear. Never has there been as perfect a time as this for finishing his manuscript and notching another milestone off the list.

But he waivers. He thinks. He is engulfed in an overwhelming, dark pool of apathy.

When the boss returns there will be hell to pay, and he knows this. The "action items" clearly outlined have seen less action than Rosie O'Donnell in a string bikini. Why?

Fear is a good motivator, but is it enough?
Passion is a good motivator, but is it enough?

Why do we get done the things we get done? Are we rewarded somehow? And if so, what is the reward?

George Erdman, the president of EREN Corp, says there are four main motivators:

==> Recognition
People who are motivated by "Recognition" are interested in
respect, admiration, regard, esteem, notoriety and

==> Influence
Those whose primary motivator is "Influence" find power,
control, competition, independence and order to be most

==> Internal
If you are motivated by "Internal" factors, then morals,
duty, intellect, creativity, philanthropy, and honor are
important to you.

==> Profit
"Profit" motivated people strive for success with money,
possessions, acquisitions, wealth, income and growth.

But is it really that simple? I hardly believe I am motivated SOLELY by internal factors, but internal factors are one of my main drivers. I know I love a little recognition, but it doesn't mean anything without feeling like I made a difference and earned it. So what is it that motivates people? Why is it that when the end is clearly in sight, and he knows that all he needs is one concerted, hard effort and he will be finished, he simply can not finish the task? Even the fear of facing the disappointed boss is not enough to stir him to action. Even knowing the weight of his actions. Why?

No, this is not a particular person, but examples from many people I know. It really could be any field, any job, any situation that involves having to seek out some greater power to will ourself into action.

In my search for answers I found this site has some interesting concepts not just involving motivation but some other interesting things as well.

I am motivated to graduate. I am motivated to earn enough money to retire early and have fun while I am still mobile. I am motivated to do good work because I can't stand the thought of being associated with anything less than wonderful and polished.
I am also extremely, extremely tired.

I know no one will comment, because no one reads this except Jan, but if you want I would love to know what motivates you to get through something that feels like there is no reason to do "it" other than just to have done "it".


the jan who always comments said...

Well, clearly, as explained in Office Space, "fear will only motivate you to do just enough so you don't get fired," and I think that about sums it up.

For me, it comes down to "I absolutely have to get this done in the next 5 minutes" and somehow believing it is actually true. Sometimes it is. Vanpool is very motivating. The bus is slightly less so. Completing it in time to go do something I want to do, for some reason, NOT very motivating.

Also motivating for me is permission to screw up, to not do a good job. "I will just write this out and even if it's terrible that's ok. I just have to put SOMETHING down." Oh yeah! It doesn't have to be perfect the first time. Sometimes, it's motivating to just do something terribly. Just for the sake of progress.

But I'm lazy, and I guess that's what motivates lazy people. :)

a lazy rod maker said...

what motivates me, is solving that darn problem of working the TV remote control with my left big toe, stretched just to its reaching limit -when the remote is five feet out into the living floor rug, yet still allowing me to remain comfortably on the couch.

Of course, the problem is almost always indirectly solved, because as I struggle to change the channel away from one mindless cable euphoria to another -the program always ends and so I no longer need to change the channel!

I have a good ten minutes of new programming to now be mindless in before I need to worry about changing any channel. It would, after all be too much work to just go pick up the remote.