If you casually search the web for information or insights on the value of motivating your staff, you will find no shortage of articles, opinions or strategies. One area, however, that is not discussed is the cycle of motivation. Why are there peaks and valleys to what motivates us? Can we sustain motivation throughout our careers? What blocks or prevents us from remaining motivated in our jobs? Most employees externalize the concept of motivation by asking the question “who can motivate me? This imposes a hurdle to motivation. If we want to truly feel engaged and rewarded for the work we do, we need to keep the following three basic criteria in mind:
- Know what goes on in your external environment. Motivation is often sparked by curiosity. If we tap into this natural human state we will connect to our creative unconsciousness which often benefits ideas and action. This often is rewarded by increased motivation and engagement of our team.
- Understanding “self” is key to knowing our motivation cycle. Our lives are often fuller and richer when we tap into this understanding. Emotional knowledge and the management of inner feelings such as anger, worry, inhibition, happiness, and so on are fundamentally important to keeping us motivated. If you are unaware of what your emotions are telling you, you may get the questions, but not the answers. This is why emotions fundamentally lead us towards action. This is only fulfilled by self-awareness. Self-awareness allows us to sift and sort all the information we deal with on a daily basis. If we recognize internal and external events and how important our action towards these events is, we can use our insights to enhance creative problem-solving. If we avoid the sometimes messy experience self-awareness may draw out in us, we become susceptible to direct control by other people. Your feelings are yours. Manage them.
- Manage the inner dialogue. Mark Twain once quipped, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened” That precious inner dialogue can be friend or foe. We choose which one. Motivation to action stems from this. The U.S. hockey coach Herb Brooks used a powerful technique when he wanted to rally his team to beat the Soviets in the gold medal finals of the 1980 Olympics. He said the following to his team; “Great moments are born from great opportunity, and that’s what you have here tonight, boys. That’s what you’ve earned here tonight. One game; if we played them ten times, they might win nine. But not this game, not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight we stay with them, and we shut them down because we can. The right spark, the right turn of phrase or motivational energy from our external environment can change our inner voice to a positive and often productive outcome. Listen to the wisdom of others to move us passed our own negative or damming perceptions of what may be.
So, in simple terms, we can do a few basic things to equip us to succeed in our daily lives.
First, we should know what our good work looks like and equip ourselves to communicate our success, but at the same time motivate ourselves to learn from our limitations.
Second, make work interesting. If we find an external value in what we do it will help us maintain momentum. Finally change your approach in life from “maybe” to “must”.