Motivation. Always look for answer on WHY?

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Last Updated on February 10, 2019 by Lucie Klabanová

Do you know the feeling when you really do not want to do something? Of course, you do! We all have it sometimes. In reality it is a protection of our organism, not to do something that is useless. The question is rather: how to cope with it?

Last night I had on my plan one really boring task that unfortunately was necessary to do. I started to come up with excuses. “I still have two weeks to do it.” “This will take me two hours to read all recommendations.” “I really do not feel like doing it know.” And so on.

I had to repeat to myself: Why I actually should do it? Why now?

I have all necessary information available and so if I do it immediately, I will not need to keep it in my mind and I will sooner be able to come back to something more creative what I like. And so, I got up and started…

Motivation are factors that guide our behavior and action to reach a certain target. (Used from Wikipedia.org.) So let’s start from the end – from targets. The most important thing is to always be aware of WHY we do something, what is the purpose. It is much more difficult to do things without knowing why.

Not mentioning the fact that if the purpose is not given, we might create our own, fictive one, that can easily be different to the real one, which is the one expected by e.g. our boss or family. The activity can turn to a different direction than wanted.

If we know our targets, we can remember the WHY to us when the reluctance come. If the driver is strong enough, we easier overcome the human laziness, drive away excuses and come to action. And then usually we finish the task earlier than we thought. The great feeling is our reward – feeling of happiness, satisfaction or excitement we made it.

What motivates us in the private life? Why we do our hobbies, things we like?

Most people claim: to be happy and satisfied.

For example, I do know quite exactly why I take dance classes. When I manage to perform the 30 seconds of choreography after a long, complicated training, I have a great feeling that I succeeded in something. You can consider it happiness.

Tim Ferriss in his book 4-hour work week finds happiness as vague word, which you can moreover “buy with a bottle of wine”. He speaks rather about excitement. OK, why not. If we do something with passion and we enjoy it, we certainly do feel the excitement.

The desire for excitement, or if you wish happiness, can be overall considered as motivation.

And how is it in the work life? Well, exactly the same!

Of course, the primary reason why we go to work is aour salary. But this reason disappears as soon as our salary is secured (of course until the job is at risk ;-)). What really motivates us to do our working tasks well, or even better? It might be more money, in form of extra bonus for example. From my perspective and experience though, money is very short term, from certain level quasi non-functioning motivator. Much more effective are personal motivators, that bring us the mentioned excitement, happiness, satisfaction.

Personal – because everyone of us has different ones. Someone needs his ego to be petted in front of others. Another one will endlessly appreciate to work only until four, so he can spend afternoon with his family. Someone else might need a slight permanent pressure because his satisfaction feeling is multiplied when target is achieved. There is million and one possibilities.

Get rid of wrong assumptions

Those are the main wrong assumptions that bosses often have about motivation:

  • EVERYONE IS LIKE ME. What motivates you will never work with someone else. And vice versa.
  • SOMEONE CANNOT BE MOTIVATED. Mistake. To motivate someone might be more difficult than someone else. You need to approach everyone individually.
  • IF MY SUBORDINATE LEAVES, IT IS MY FAILURE. It is not. It happens that sometimes the company and an employee do not fit together.
  • EVERYONE IS MOTIVATED BY CHALLENGING TASKS. The managers think that the higher the target the more motivated the team is. But to achieve something just for the sake of achieving it is not the base of motivation. The quality of life is more important – the satisfaction. That might or might not come out of challenge.
  • I TRIED IT AND IT IS NOT WORKING. Every change is complicated at the beginning. It is a standing out of a comfort zone. So, if you try something new, maybe first there will be displeasure and resistance. You need to be patient and consistent.
  • THIS TYPE OF MOTIVATION REQUIRES TOO MUCH TIME. Yes, the boss needs to dedicate lot of time to his people. Finding out who they are, what are their values. But he should do it because a well working team will take over most of his responsibilities and will save his time in the future.

If you want to read more about which mistakes you should avoid as a boss do not forget to download the free e-book 9 tips how to be great boss.  

The main enabler of motivation at work (and not only there) is communication.

If you do not speak to your boss or colleagues openly and enough, you will never understand each other. Most people do appreciate well expressed feedback, positive as well as negative, and are motivated by it for better results. And an open and honest praise can be also a type of  reward.  

So, do have a clear idea WHY, while working on each project or task.

If you do not, ask. And if no one knows the answer, just do not do it. Eliminate. But more about this next time ;-)

I am a mentor, leader and pioneer of business process improvement. I help companies and individuals to find effective ways to achieve their goals. More about me you can find here>>

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