Day 22: Getting Motivated
If you try to motivate people by lighting a fire under them, all you will get is burnt butts. A much more enlightened way to motivate people is to find the fire within them and fan it.
What motivates you to do what you do? Are you motivated to avoid pain or to pursue pleasure?
There are 4 motivations: – political, economic, emotional and spiritual. We will look at these 4 motivations from the perspective of wearing a face mask in the midst of the pandemic.
Often we do what we do because we are compelled by external forces to engage in that behavior. I call this a “political motivation.” Underlying this political motivation is fear; we do what we do because we are afraid of a bad consequence for not doing what is demanded of us. Eventually, resentment and outward hostility will be manifested toward the source of the fear. If we are kept afraid for too long, the fear will crystallize as hate directed toward that which is frightening us. Fear-based motivation only results in further fear-based behavior from those affected – ourselves and others.
Because of the potential for great discrepancy between our internal values and our outward behavior, politically-motivated or fear-based behavior will guarantee hypocrisy, burnout, cynicism, hate, and overall poor, unsustainable performance.
Example: We may decide to physically isolate and wear a face mask because we want to avoid trouble with the authorities. It’s simply not worth the effort to “fight city hall.” In reality we are not motivated to actually care for ourselves or others; rather, we are motivated to avoid a bad outcome such as a fine. Within our society we can see that being compelled to wear face masks is resulting in considerable defiance and hostility.
When motivated from an economic perspective we apply a cost-benefit analysis to the behavior in question. We will engage in the behavior if we can see that the benefits outweigh the costs. We are not simply avoiding a potentially bad thing, such as punishment, because there is a positive advantage to us in doing the behavior.
Example: We may wear a face mask because some stores now require it, or some workplaces may require it and there is a benefit to going to the store or to our workplace. We are no longer solely motivated by fear of a bad consequence such as punishment, but that there is some reward from complying with face mask requirements.
We do what we do because we find joy or emotional satisfaction from the activity. Doing the behavior is personally pleasurable and has some intrinsic reward. We do what we do because we love doing it.
Example: We feel good about wearing a face mask because we are caring for others, a behavior that is consistent with our value of caring. We may also engage in making face masks and wear a mask that has a creative design, and we enjoy seeing other people in their masks.
Spirituality is about being aware of being connected to something greater than ourselves and that which is the Source of our Life. Spiritually-motivated behavior flows from the depths of our being that is one with this Source of Life. The word “enthusiasm” means to “be in God” (from the Greek en- “in” + theos “god”) and spiritually-motivated actions often have a profound quality of enthusiasm. We do what we do because it is who we are, we cannot not do it. Spiritually-motivated behaviors result in “flow state” or being “in the zone.” The behavior flows from the depths of our being in a way that leads to a humble, rather than arrogant, satisfaction and joy.
Spiritually-motivated activity seems effortless, energizing, and creative. While potentially physically tiring, at the end of the day, you may sleep with a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that you will awake refreshed and inspired to do it all over again. You love what you are doing and when you are in your zone you are aware that you have a greater love not only for yourself and the people you work with but for all of humanity.
Note that spiritual motivation is very different from religious motivation. “God” motivated behavior is often political – fear based motivation, especially when “God” is threatening you with eternal damnation. That is not a spiritual motivation according to this taxonomy of motivations.
Spiritual motivation generally requires some kind of transformational experience. Enlightenment, being “born again,” and awakening are all expressions that relate to the transformational experiences that result in spiritual motivation. It is in these experiences that we discover the timeless or eternal nature of things like love and peace, and while we may have loved and been loved by someone in a temporal context, the essential nature of love is eternal and will never end.
Example: At some point during the pandemic you may have realized that you are not alone in this experience. All of humanity is vulnerable, and if I am to survive humanity must survive. We need each other for we are one. Wearing a face mask is no longer about caring for me, or caring for you, but caring for all of humanity for we are all in this together.
These four motivations can be applied to any particular behavior and are worth considering as we contemplate returning to our daily lives beyond the pandemic. Easter living, is about being internally motivated (emotional or spiritual) rather than motivated by external forces (political or economic). Externally motivated behaviors will ease the moment the external motivation is removed.
When we think of our careers we need to discover that place inside of us where we “cannot not do what we do.” It is the place of intrinsic spiritual motivation. It will be life-giving rather than soul destroying toil. There will be somethings in our lives that we will need to do, those times when we need to “render to Caesar what is Caesars” but we need to ensure that there are sufficient things in our life that are life-giving to ensure that we do not become worn out or burnt out.
Think of some things you do that you deeply enjoy and ponder your motivation…
Thinks of some things you “have” to do and find frustrating and ponder your motivation…
Contrast the motivations and notice the differences…
For those that are frustrating step back and contemplate a more intrinsic reason for doing them…
Is there a way to make them enjoyable, and/or part of a wider perspective on our human experience…?
With Easter Joy