Motivation and the Art of Generating It

As a therapist, I’ve had many clients who have come in with a lack of motivation, from a lack of drive at work to the inability for them to diet, quit smoking, or get out of bed in the morning. For them, both positive and negative motivations are important; positive motiviations are those that lead to action and those that lead to inaction (not smoking, for example).

A common method they’ve used before (and failed at) is to beat themselves into doing it. “You lazy person, you’ll never get anywhere;” “You have to do this whether you like it or not;” or “no one will ever love you until you do” are all examples of negative inner dialogue. Bribing or persuading themselves may work temporarily, but it usually fails in the long run. They’ve also used other people to exert pressure on them, such as a motivational group, hypnosis, or a parent or parent substitute.

For some people, this third option has proven to be the most effective for an extended period of time. When people come to me for help, it’s because they’ve rebelled against someone or something and now find that they’re unable to do what they’d like to do as a result of their rebellious behaviour! The truth is that we are unlikely to cooperate if we feel pushed around by someone else. It’s especially difficult when the “pushy person” is oneself.
In reality, no matter how nastily and viciously they attack themselves, they are unable to find the motivation they need. Every client who has worked with me has been able to overcome both “negative motivation” and “positive motivation,” and we have had tremendous success with these problems. The key to this success is the ease with which it is possible to inspire others.

Celebration and appreciation, I believe, are the seeds from which motivation sprouts. Celebrate + Appreciate = Motivate is how I like to put it.

You will find yourself “magically” motivated if you can find a way to appreciate yourself for what you’ve already accomplished and celebrate your previous successes (and believe me, you can find a way). Getting things done is a joyous experience that requires no effort on your part. As an example, here are two potential employers. “Bad boss” and “good boss” characters

The Dictator

Intimidates and criticises others to get things done…

When the boss doesn’t praise you, you know you’re doing fine because you don’t hear anything from him or her.

Gets a little prickly if you get it wrong.

You are humiliated in front of others.

-Don’t ever think you have done enough.

Infers that you’re slack and untrustworthy.

The rules are changed arbitrarily.

-Never seems to be satisfied with being pleased.

(see what I mean?)

The boss who’s a good guy

-Repeatedly Applauds

always makes sure you know when things are going well for yourself

In the event that you’ve made a mistake, asks you for what you need.

This is extremely beneficial.

With regards to your health and productivity, is concerned about both

assumes that you are motivated to succeed

You’ll have a better sense of belonging if you do this.

You are valued as a human being when you are treated with respect and dignity.

-Makes it clear what your responsibilities are.

Getting the job done is the goal for both of these managers. As a matter of fact, their management styles are very different. Think about how you would feel if you were in either of these situations. Tension and rage permeate the office of the bad boss. People goof off when the boss isn’t around and only work to keep him/her off their backs. To avoid the boss’s wrath, they are ineffective. We call this state of mind “adaptation,” and it’s all about keeping someone (usually a nastier or more angry person) from getting on their tails.

Only their paychecks and perhaps each other hold them together, as mistreated prisoners are loyal to each other when confronting the jailer. Offices that are notorious for their lack of productivity and organisational cohesion. There will be pushback if this boss requests overtime.

What would it be like to have this boss as a boss? Would you look forward to going to work every day? How would you feel if you were asked to do more? Awaiting a new task with bated breath That’s unlikely, to say the least. For the most part, you wouldn’t be inspired, would you?