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The Debate Over Motivation

In the 19 years I’ve been leading people, it has become clear to me that the people who consistently surprise, delight, and excel are the people who know the “why” behind the “what” they do.  These people know how to deliver.  I hesitate to use the term succeed because success is a loaded word, filled with all kinds of normative bullshit and societal expectations about how to measure the worth of another human being. So, I won’t use success and will instead focus on something I think is a far easier and less subjective measure: enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is hard to fake and easy to detect. You can literally see it. Enthusiasm, the real kind, is a close companion of joy. The combination of the two, over time, is what allows people to surprise, delight, and excel. It’s evident in the energy they infuse in a room, the twinkle in their eyes, and the smile that stretches coast to coast across their face. Sustained over time, it is impossible to fake.

The fuel for all the energy it takes to keep that level of engagement in life going is purpose. Ultimately, an individual connected to their own internal sense of purpose is a powerful force. Purpose is also a loaded word, though, because it has gained a good deal of popularity in contemporary corporate lingo. In the corporate world, the major error that’s made is the assumption that the organization can provide the sense of purpose. The truth is, it cannot. Don’t expect your employer to hand you a purpose-driven existence. They can’t do it. Purpose bubbles up from somewhere deep inside. An organization can connect an individual with the means to fulfill purpose, but discerning purpose is the sole responsibility of the individual. That means it’s up to you to figure shit out for yourself.

And so attention turns to the study of motivation. Internal motivation, once popularly referred to as intrinsic motivation, is connected to purpose. Internal motivation trumps all and is the reason that externally-focused motivators such as compensation ultimately fail to satisfy our strong drive for a feeling of satisfaction from all that we do. There’s a place for external sources of motivation, but their effectiveness is almost always short-term. Internal motivation rules the day.

Luckily, you don’t have to take my word for it. Read on…

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/opinion/sunday/the-secret-of-effective-motivation.html

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