The Better Motivation

Emma Weber, Patricia Pulliam Phillips and Jack Phillips

When science first examined motivation, the consensus of opinion was that there were two main motivational drives. The drive to survive (also known as the biological imperative) and the ‘carrot and stick’ approach to motivation.

Our motivation to survive is intrinsic; it comes from within and motivates us to take the necessary steps to stay alive. So we eat when we are hungry, drink when we are thirsty and sleep when we are tired. The biological imperative is a motivational baseball bat — there is no finesse. Plus it’s not particularly useful as a motivational tool. It can however be activated in a change situation as people involved become agitated and wonder if they are going to be 'surplus to requirements.' Announcements of change can trigger this ‘fight or flight’ response which is clearly not that helpful. Again, people feel ‘out of control’ and that is never conducive to successful change. When people are scared or unsure you may get compliance but you will never unlock discretionary effort and fast-track change.

Reward and punishment are the other commonly understood motivational tools. These are extrinsic in that the motivation is coming from outside the individual by way of a promise of a new office or a financial bonus if targets are met. According to these motivational forces the only way we can get people…

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"We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins."

- George Bernard Shaw

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