Gower/Routledge recently published my book, Mapping Motivation (http://amzn.to/2eqdSQq) earlier this year. It has sold extremely well and doubtless will continue to do so; for there is a hunger to know more about motivation: what it really is, how it works and how we can optimise motivation in our work, for our teams, and in our whole organisations.
Here is a key quotation from one chapter of the book and what I’d like to do in this blog is explore this in a little more detail; clearly there is plenty more in the chapter about it, but as always there is yet more to be said than can be said completely in any chapter or any book! From Chapter one then:
“But if motivation is like electricity, it can flow both ways, its power and intensity can wax and wane, and although its effects are felt, it is itself, as we said, invisible. So the best parallel of all – and the one most frequently used in motivational literature - is with energy; the flow of energy within us. And this fits with the word’s etymology – from the Anglo-Norman term, ‘motif’, which is often translated as ‘drive’. So, drive and energy are two powerful synonyms for motivation. But we need to remember that energy is energy, or put another way, as Hilgard and Marquis put it: “The motivation of behaviour comes about through the existence of conditions (drive-establishing operations) which release energy originating in the organism’s metabolic processes. This energy, in and of itself, is directionless and may serve any of a variety of motivational objectives.” [from Chapter One of Mapping Motivation: James Sale, Routledge, [ http://bit.ly/2ep0dxJ ]
The first extra point to make is etymological. I have already commented on the origins of the word ‘motif’ as meaning drive, but of course there is a subsidiary meaning to the word motif, which is less apparent: a motif also means ‘a distinctive constituent feature of an artistic composition’. We hear it in music – like a pattern of notes that keep recurring, sometimes in the background, and sometimes to the fore, but always there. In fact, these patterns, these motifs, eventually become thematic. The best way of grasping this is to use a contemporary example: great TV serials – for example – Game of Thrones – always have these motifs in their opening credits, and often as some exciting event occurs in the drama, the motif reappears. In some way – Pavlovian almost – the association of the notes with the meaning or theme of the drama starts becoming automatic; we hear the notes, and we – like the Pavlovian dogs hearing the bell ring – salivate with the anticipation of the ‘meat’ we are about to devour.
In this way, then, the nine motivations can be understood as motifs – patterns – within us that play out our destiny. Just as with our favourite TV programme, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, 24, or whatever – the playing of the music sets up the expectation, so the motivators set up expectations within us. And when the music is played – when the motif is realised – boom! We are so happy, so fulfilled, so complete.
It should be obvious, then, how powerful this is: because the motifs lead to patterns of behaviour as we seek to gain more fulfilment. As the process is emotional, so it is pleasurable; and thus it is what we want, and so will override what we need to do every time! The only caveat to that observation is where the self-esteem of the subject is so low that they no longer experience ‘hope’, and so in a state of despair can only address ‘needs’ issues. Clearly, hope is closely allied with the word we used earlier: expectations. For expectations are our beliefs in future outcomes, just as desire is our wish for certain, specific future outcomes. Both are lodged in our heart – that is, are emotional – and centre on the future. The motifs – as they recur – excite our expectations for a fulfilled future.
We have, then, in the human psyche all nine motivators playing their notes like instruments in an orchestra; but the motivational profile of each individual is based on the cluster of notes which become dominant and start informing themes and patterns and behaviours. They are more powerful than just individual notes; perhaps they are like chords. Listen, that person wants to make a difference and to combine that with deep learning; but that other, her motifs are for independence and security. As our symphonies progress, the notes change, and so do the motifs. It is a very dynamic model.
I hope you have enjoyed this little detour and expansion of my ideas on Mapping Motivation, the book. If you haven’t read it, please do and review it on Amazon for me. And if you would like me to do further and deeper work about the book on my Linkedin Blog page, then please say so and I will get some more ideas out to you shortly. Stay motivated – and work with your motifs!!