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August 2015

Motivation and Emotions

There are many reasons why individuals, teams and organisations should use Motivational Maps; in describing these reasons we most frequently refer to the close link there is between motivation and performance, and alongside that goes productivity and even profitability. Why wouldn’t we say these things, for after all Motivational Maps Ltd is a commercial organization and we need to sell our products, our services and our unique solutions to the wide world of people?

But having said that, sometimes we need to take a closer look at why Motivational Maps is so useful and so powerful. Yes, providing solutions for organisations and businesses is good, but for the real enthusiasts there is something much deeper. And what this something deeper is goes to the root of who we are as people. I have been struck recently by a phenomenon I have spent my life encountering, and yet it is so easy to forget it, and to ignore its consequences. It is this: that people do not make logical decisions, but rather they make emotional ones and they do this all the time. Indeed, they make emotional decisions and then hide the fact by tracing their footsteps backwards in order to provide rational and logical justifications for their actions. There is often psychopathology about it, and frequently there is a madness too.

Of course, at a healthy level we can enjoy the oddness of making emotional decisions and pretending they are logical. A good example would be buying a house or a car. If we take the latter example, why do we want a car? To get us from A to B in a convenient and timely fashion. So we could all buy a Reliant Robin three-wheeler (if they still exist!), but most of us don’t; we could all buy a high quality, second hand car rather than a brand new one off the forecourt where we certainly know that 30% of its value is lost immediately we drive it, but many of us don’t; and we could buy an economical little number that is cheap and easy to run, but an increasing number seem to want gas-guzzling, Four-wheel drives to get 2 people on average four miles down the road! Why? Well, as I say, these examples can be construed as ‘fun’: the triumph of our emotions over logic, and our identification of ourselves with a certain image that has potency for us.

But there is a darker, more sinister side to people and their emotions. Pascal said, “The heart has its reasons that reason does not know about”. In other words, there is an internal logic that each of us is capable of and which is blind to logic or rationality itself; in fact its ultimate origin stems from our dreams, from which come our desires and our emotions. Anybody who has ever had a dream knows that dreams do not obey logic and reason, and a good ‘reason’ for this is that if they did then we could control them or predict them – all the things humans like to do to gain control. But dreams are out of our control, although they can be utilized and influenced through indirect means. And here’s the point, the dreams, the desires, the emotions are much more powerful than the logic, which is why Einstein is reported to have said that “imagination is more important than knowledge” because of course imagination is the shaping power that our emotions are always driving, and which actually constructs our reality. Besides this power, facts and logic - are nothing much; they are almost incidental. As Dr Johnson observed: "The mind of man is never satisfied with the objects immediately before it.” The facts, the logic, the things are never enough.

Thus what I have in mind and have seen a lot of recently is that phenomenon in which people do things entirely against their own real self interests, and under some dire internal compulsion which is clearly invisible to them. To use Spock’s phrase, ‘It’s illogical Captain”, but can they see it? No.

Emotions and desires are invisible by their very nature; it is only our actions which reveal what we really want. So another important word leaks out: ‘want’. I see it this way: people ‘need’ to do things for logical reasons, but they invariably ‘want’ to do something else, something that addresses their internal dreams, desires and emotional hot-spots. The ‘invisible’ necessity triumphs over the visible contingency, the world of facts and logic and reasons (which are all very palpable).

Here, of course, is where Motivational Maps come in. They are not a cure or a solution to the fact that we are emotional beings, or that we make irrational decisions, but what they do do is map the terrain of what we really want. They make visible the invisible desires that are prompting our actions and behaviours. This means that Maps can be used by individuals to help them understand some of the patterns in their behavior by using the map language to detect when this is evident in what they are doing; equally, it can and should be used by coaches in the same way. To know, for example, that somebody has, say, security as their dominant motivator means that we can begin to track this in what they are doing; perhaps pick-up instances where the want for security has actually made them less secure because they have foregone what was a good opportunity; and similarly for all the nine motivators.  IMG_0902

As Motivational Maps becomes more widespread, there will be far more stories surrounding these interventions and their significance, because in doing this kind of work we get to the very heart of helping people truly understand themselves and perhaps – perhaps – get a grip on the compulsions themselves and thereby assist in loosening them.