Why Nine Motivators? What The Lord of the Rings has to tell us about Motivational Maps!


There is a common perception nowadays that movies or novels – fiction – is just light entertainment designed to distract us from the boring mundanity of everyday lives. But of course the ancients understood differently, that fictional narratives could contain great wisdom and understanding, with the greatest of them going on to become mythology – another level altogether! So, we often see wisdom cropping up in surprising places, even the Hollywood blockbuster. Having said that, it should be no surprise that Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, which is so richly steeped in mythology, has some interesting things to tell us about personal development and even motivation!

Before we look at this intriguing parallel, however, it is worth briefly examining the history of personality profiling, psychometric tests, and the boom of diagnostic tools that allow us to measure unseen aspects of the human psyche. We can see a surprising degree of variation in terms of (1) what people are looking for in a diagnostic, (2) the output of the diagnostic, (3) and whether the diagnostic reflects an unchangeable element, or something that does evolve and change over time. It’s clear the academically-minded prefer diagnostics such as Myers Briggs and the 4-Colours precisely because they measure aspects of the self that are fixed and cannot change; they are therefore “repeatable” under study conditions. Interestingly, both of these systems are based on the multiples of “4” (16 types of personality in the case of Myers Briggs, 4 in the case of Colours).

Maps, on the other hand, is based on 9 motivators, which correlate to the Enneagram and the wisdom of the ancient tradition. There are many further reasons for this difference. One is due to the fact that the Map is not a personality profile but rather self-perception inventory that measures the circa-80% of human nature that is experientially evolved, or, in other words, malleable. Our motivations shift over time. Not only that, but our motivation levels increase and decrease. Rather than putting people in a limited box and saying, “This is who you are” we say, “At this moment in time, these things are driving you and doing more of them will give you more energy.” Motivation is directly correlated with energy (for more information on this, it is worth reading Mapping Motivation

However, this doesn’t fully answer the question of “why 9 motivators?”. Why not 7, or 8, or 16? Why are there 9? There are many answers to the question, including some highly esoteric ones about the mystical properties of the number 9 itself, but a surprising and perhaps more helpful answer can be found in The Lords of the Rings!

If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings, then you will probably have already put two and two together and worked out that there are 9 members of the Fellowship of the Ring, which are diametrically opposed to the 9 evil Ringwraiths. 9 is deemed the optimum number by the wise elven Lord Elrond to provide enough strength to fight off attackers, but also to pass unnoticed if need be. But deeper than this plot-driven reason, we see that the Fellowship is a perfectly balanced unit. Together, the Fellowship lacks nothing.

If we examine the Fellowship members, we will see that each of them resembles a motivational driver. Remember, we each have all nine motivators within us, but we tend to prioritise one or more (and can also have an aversion to some). However, we do need all nine, otherwise we begin to wilt energetically. We might view the motivators as nine energies that, when synergised, provide balance. The Fellowship exemplifies this.

  • We have Frodo, who represents the Searcher motivator – the desire to make a difference;
  • Samwise, who is the Friend motivator – who wants to belong and have meaningful connection;
  • Gandalf, the wizard, who is a Creator motivator – he desires change and to bring new things into the world (and note when we meet him he shows off his homemade fireworks);
  • Aragorn, the ranger, who is a Spirit motivator – he desires independence and freedom (ironically, his character arc is to move towards accepting more responsibility);
  • and speaking of responsibility, we have Director-motivator Merry, who is constantly giving orders “We have to fight”, who asks for the responsibility of serving King Theoden in battle, and ends up rallying the Ents for their last heroic march;
  • Pippin, on the other hand, is the Star – he wants to be the centre of attention, he wants recognition (and often does slapstick things in order to get it!);
  • Gimli, the dwarf warrior, is a Builder – he values material possessions which embody his progress (note how he asks the Lady Galadriel for a lock of her golden hair: the memory is not enough, he needs the physical talisman of the experience!);
  • Legolas is an Expert motivator, constantly giving advice: “A red sun rises: blood has been spilled this night” and “The elves began it [the process of waking up the trees]” – he wants to share his expertise;
  • And lastly we have Boromir, who is a Defender motivator, constantly concerned with the security of his nation and city, “We should strike out from a place of strength!”.

Of course, Tolkien died before the creation of Motivational Maps, and I do not believe he would have much interest in such a tool, but I do believe that he tapped into a universal truth about these nine energies, just as Motivational Maps has done in the process of extensively researching motivation. You may think I am reading too much into The Lord of the Rings, but note how the tensions that we often see in a workplace arising between certain motivators are reflected in the dynamics between the Fellowship members!

For example, Gandalf is eternally frustrated with Boromir, and the two argue on a regular basis. The Creator motivator (Gandalf) seeks change, but the Defender (Boromir) wants things to stay the same, and wants everything to be safe. This split priority creates conflict. Note as well that although Boromir is often viewed as the “bad one” or the runt of the litter, there are many instances where Boromir’s strength and ox-like stubbornness, derived from his grounded motivator, see the Fellowship through difficult scenarios (and of course, he heroically sacrifices himself at the end to save Merry and Pippin).

To view another example, Aragorn and Boromir are often at loggerheads. Aragorn’s Spirit, to be independent and free, clashes with Boromir who is constantly insisting that they do the logical and safe thing and return to the city of Minas Tirith. We also see tensions arise between Legolas and Aragorn in The Two Towers. Legolas, as an Expert, cannot see why Aragorn is allowing himself to be dragged into the battle of Helm’s Deep with such hopeless odds. He looks around at the warriors who have either “seen too many winters” or “too few” (i.e. they are too old or too young for true combat), and is disdainful. The Expert is a critical eye who can always see a better way to do something. Aragorn, however, recognises that there is no process or knowledge that can help them at this desperate stage, only action!

So, when you next do a Motivational Map, ask yourself: which member of the Fellowship am I most like! As stated before, the Maps are not prescriptive. We all have all nine motivators, but it might be that one or more of the motivators is leading the pack (in charge of the Fellowship) at a particular stage in your life. If you then consider that character’s wider arc and journey, it might surprise you what insight this can offer to help you in your current predicament!

My 3 Top Tips For Creating a Long Lasting Business

3 tips long lasting

I have been in business for over 25 years, and though I have much more to learn, and there are many things I might do differently now in hindsight, staying in business for that long is no mean feat. In fact, the usual statistics indicate that somewhere between 60-80% of all businesses go out of business within the first five years; and over the next five years, a similar number drop out. Anyone familiar with the Pareto principle will see that these numbers more or less accord with the 80/20 dynamic!

The question of longevity in business has become more pertinent than ever in our modern world, where the ever-shifting landscape of technology and culture make building our house on solid ground very difficult indeed. Many businesses who remained in the Forbes 500 for decades are now defunct. Many businesses that did not exist fifteen years ago have reached billion dollar evaluation. It remains to be seen whether the latter of these will also stay the course or burn out. Sometimes, it is indeed the tortoise that wins the race!

So, how can we ensure longevity? How can we make the 20% cut and go on for five, ten, fifteen, or even fifty years?

These are my top three tips for anyone who wants to start a business, be that with small resources (like myself as a sole trader, back in the ‘90s), or even with huge resources and backing.

What I am about to share with you was not, of course, obvious to me at the start back in 1995 when I gave up my job. It is also worth me mentioning that I am no longer a sole trader and currently run a very different type of business with Motivational Maps (and have done for the last 15 years). However, all of this experience is very relevant, and it is worth reflecting on what we can learn from the past, even if we have moved on. So, this is what I have learned – and happy is the person who can learn from others’ mistakes!

1) Avoid The Trap of Specialism

First, and probably foremost, it is vital not to fall into the trap that so many businesses, large and small (but especially small) fall into. We need specialism, but it can also be a deadly trap.

I started business life as a trainer, and I wanted to be the best. In fact, I specifically wanted to be in the top 20% a la the Pareto Principle. And beyond that, in the top 20% of the top 20%. In other words, I set myself a goal to be in the top 4% of trainers! A pretty ambitious feat. But based on what? Revenue? Size of Company? Number of employees? None of these were of interest to me. I wanted to be a superb trainer in a technical and efficacious sense, to get those shifts in people who attended my training; I wanted to become a top trainer on the basis of excellence.

I have received a lot of feedback from my training over the years, and I am fairly convinced that in this regard I did succeed in becoming an excellent trainer.

But this is the danger. Whether you are trainer, a plumber, an accountant, a tree surgeon, a lawyer, a web designer, or whatever, a service supplier has a tendency to focus on the technical quality and the execution of what they do. What we are good at, and our self-esteem, are locked into that activity. And this is not always conducive to running an effective business.

For a sort of proof, let’s ask this question: if Richard Branson were interested in setting up a plumbing business, what would he be most concerned about establishing first: the technical capability of staff? No, that would be a given that followed afterwards. The key question would be: what is the market for this type of service and how can we effectively access it?

So, my first business tip is get the strategy and marketing right to begin with. Remember that strategy and marketing go hand in glove: they need each other. Often, businesses conflate these two things, but they are distinct, and mastering them even at the early stages is crucial.

A final point to make about this is that when we start thinking about our market, we are shifting our attention away from what we’re doing to what our audience wants. To us, as experts and specialists, there may be nothing more exciting than the nitty gritty details of how motivation works. But is this of interest to our potential clients? By focusing on the market, marketing, and strategy we shift the focus onto the person we are looking to make a difference to, and away from ourselves, which is a vital step in developing a business and ensuring it lasts. If we keep giving people what they want, they’re likely to want us to stick around!

2) Energy > Expertise

Back in 1995, I have to confess my strategy was extremely weak, and my grasp of marketing was also defective. But sometimes you can succeed despite that if you can sell anyway. That I certainly could do and still can. And I am reminded of Brian Tracy’s wonderful dictum about selling: namely, “at least 50% of any sale is a transfer of enthusiasm.” How true! Enthusiasm and motivation are pretty synonymous – it’s about the energy you bring to work, you bring to your business, you bring to your clients and to the world. This energy is infectious and people want to be near it.

Thus, lacking a strategy and even a half decent marketing plan, you can still go a long way if you are enthusiastic and motivated. If you run a company with staff, then this is even more crucial, because your motivation impacts them, and this leads to ever higher levels of productivity and success.

Becoming motivated, then, is really essential and in any case has become the basis of my whole work. When I started, I had the quality of high energy but I did not consciously rate it as highly as technical excellence – now I know better! Energy, or motivation (I regard the two as virtually synonymous) is arguably the most important factor in business success. Highly motivated and energised people work harder because they love it, they are more creative, they are invested, and they can go the distance because the work isn’t grinding them down. This applies as much to us, and to those we employee or work with. If you aren’t motivated by what you do, then the chances of longevity are slim!

3) Don’t Go It Alone

Finally, my third top tip is one I have also learned the hard way. In 2006, I abandoned self-employment and set up the Motivational Maps Ltd business. Those who know Motivational Maps will also know that “Friend” is one of the nine motivators that drive human behaviour. For some people, it is a vital component of gaining satisfaction at work; for others, it is no big deal. I am in that latter camp. “Friend”, or the need to belong, is low on my motivational map, although I would describe myself as a friendly person.

What has emerged for me as core since setting up the Maps business is the importance of relationships: deep, consistent, sincere, powerful and compelling relationships. In fact, when relationships get to the compelling level we can use another word or words: allies and alliances – all based on true relationships.

This gets us away from what I would call commodity or transactional business and into transformational and value added business. Further, it becomes a filter. I now actively look to have deep relationships with every supplier, client and “friend” involved in my work; put another way, I don’t want to waste time with people I really don’t like and who at the end of the day are likely to cause me problems.

Ask yourself three simple questions about your suppliers, staff, and clients. One, do you know them? I mean, knowthem? Two, do you like them? And finally, do you trust them? If the answer is yes to all three, then you want them, in whatever capacity, in your business.

To sum up: work on that strategy and marketing plan, be motivated at all times, and surround yourself with people you know, like, and trust. There’s a good chance if you do these three things, then you will have a superb and long lasting business – and a lot of fun along the way!

If you would like to know more about Motivational Maps please visit www.motivationalmaps.com or contact one of our practitioners directly - you can find a selection of them here.

Top 10 Tips For Motivating Your People


Due to the nature (and name!) of my business, people frequently ask me: what are the best things we can do to motivate staff?

I love being asked this question, because it’s an implicit acknowledgement that motivation is absolutely vital for a team, or indeed an organisation, to function at its highest potential. It is often sadly the case that leaders don’t want to invest in or put effort into motivation. They view salary alone as incentive enough for people to keep coming to work. This is a very 1960s view! In the 21st century, where there are such a diverse array of working options available to employees, saying nothing of self-employment too, and employees no longer feel the same kind of lifelong obligations to their employer, we have to recognise that we need to be motivating our people if we want them to stay, and more importantly still, if we want them to prosper.

What, then, are the best management tips for motivating others? I’m going to share with you my top 10 motivational tips. But before I do, it’s worth me drawing attention to one critical thing: these are not “big” things you do once a year. Many employers have the idea that motivation is about getting in a top speaker to rally the troops, or putting on a paintball day, or giving the walls of the office a new lick of paint, all of which are expensive one-offs which may be temporarily effective but ultimately wear off. Even worse, if they are not done genuinely, they will be seen as shallow attempts to avoid addressing the deeper issues within the organisation, to gloss over the true concerns of the employee with razzmatazz. Again, it is this old-fashioned attitude of encouraging the employees get blind and dangerously drunk at Christmas as a kind of psychic blow-out, when in fact they would not need to self-destruct if they were being looked after for the rest of the year.

So, these tips are daily tasks, minute-by-minute investments of your energy and focus. Because the real motivation happens in these small and regular moments. That is how one creates lasting and positive change.

1: Be motivated yourself! Motivation, like laughter, is infectious. When a leader is dynamic, high-energy, and motivated – and everyone can see that – it inspires others to be the same. One great leader, highly motivated, can have a disproportionate impact on everyone else. So, do that corny but effective ritual first thing in the morning: look in the mirror and say, I feel great, I am full of energy, I am the conqueror. Tell yourself with conviction, then go out and live the dream.

2: Look for members of your team doing things right, catch them, and praise them immediately. Note, when we say “doing things right”, we don’t just mean hitting big annual targets or doing their job correctly, we mean the little things, like picking up litter and putting it in the bin, or giving encouragement to a fellow employee. The immediate reward of praise is far more important than a few words once a year at an annual review.

3: Treat everybody with respect, which means – and this is a difficult lesson for some – listen a lot. One of the most common criticisms I see from employees is that their management is completely out of touch with the “situation on the ground”. And sometimes even further than that, it is said, “They don’t have any interest in us”. Sometimes, we don’t need a Motivational Map to know what is driving our employees, they are telling us very explicitly! 

4: Help your people learn. Increases in learning produce increases in self-esteem and performance. Too many organisations discouragement upward mobility for fear that they will either lose employees because they decide to move on, or that management’s own jobs become at-risk. The irony is that many people leave their jobs for precisely the opposite reason – they were not being developed enough!

5: Make everyone feel like they belong. Now, more than ever, this is mission critical. In organisations, large and small, it is very easy for cabals, cliques, and inner circles to form, especially when, in the west, we tend to devolve the company into departmental silos. Everyone should feel they are on the same team, working towards the same aim. Whilst hopefully it is obvious that this also means welcoming people whatever their gender, ethnicity, race, culture, or age, there far subtler distinctions which are perhaps equally important, such as those who have been with the company a long time versus newcomers, those in managerial roles versus those in administrative ones, those on higher salaries versus lower salaries, etc, etc.

6: Stop micro-managing with central directives. Barring immoral or dubious conduct, it doesn’t matter that much how people get the job done; the important thing is whether they achieve the goal. Give your people more control, allow them to do things their way, and you will see a massive uptick in productivity and happiness.

7: Acknowledge their ideas publicly where possible. Too often we see that employees feel their contribution is lost in the relentless forward motion of organisational activities, their contributions reduced to a bullet point in an internal newsletter, an unattributed statistic of success. Reward achievement with recognition. Sometimes one-to-one is enough (indeed, for some people this is preferable to a big song and dance), but sometimes a more public recognition of achievement is what the doctor ordered.

8: Give them a challenge. For some people, winning a contract is not enough, they are capable of more; so add the ‘more’ in some way, and talk as if you know they can do it.

9: Say thank you, and make strong eye contact when you do.

10: Try to understand their motivations and feed them. Review the above suggestions and work out which ones suit which individuals. Treat each employee personally, however difficult that may seem. Remember that Motivational Maps can be tremendous asset in this space!

With the above suggestions in your armoury, you can go some way to motivating your people without even needing a tool! Remember, the “kaizen” method of small and regular steps is the path to success here. In the words of author Grady Hendrix, “How does a sparrow destroy a mountain? One pebble at a time.”