Motivational Maps and Continuous Learning

 

Open book

How can Motivational Maps foster a continuous learning culture?

One phrase I have seen getting a lot of attention recently is “continuous learning” or alternatively “lifelong learning”. This is, in my view, a very good thing, because it goes some way towards rectifying one of the great errors of modern education: the idea that learning stops at twenty-one save for the rare few people who go on to do Masters or PHDs.

It’s a common truism that often the end of formal learning is the beginning of true learning; yet, we often don’t live our lives that way. For example, we all know that once you pass your driving test, one’s learning is only just beginning! But in the world of work and careers, the “system”, for lack of a better term, inculcates the idea that we learn until we are sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one, or maybe twenty five, and at that point we stop learning and then go and get a job. It’s the idea that what we picked up in school is sufficient to carry us through the rest of our lives!

Of course, good jobs provide challenges which are learning opportunities in themselves. And some employers will offer training to their staff. But the reality is for most people the challenges at work are few compared to the routine, and the training opportunities are likewise rare—more often than not, they are merely refresher courses, more like exams to check the employees can do their jobs than a real learning opportunity.

But now the idea of continuous or lifelong learning is beginning to catch on. So, what is it?

Continuous learning is defined by the Department of Education and Science (2000) as the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge. You can imagine we are very interested in this last phrase, because motivation is our business and passion!

Continuous learning is very powerful and empowering for individuals and organisations alike. So many organisations come to ruin because they are unable to serve the needs of an ever-changing market, because they fail to adapt, or because they completely fall out of touch with their customers. Continuous learning is therefore less a “nice to have” than pretty essential, especially as the pace of change is only increasing, and exponentially at that. When we are continuously learning we change with time and circumstance, and, to use another buzz-phrase, “future proof” our business.

We all know individuals who, at a certain point, give up taking on any new information or ideas. They give up staying up to date, give up learning how to use social media or other technologies, fail to acknowledge that industries and professions have changed, or more worrying still: fail to acknowledge how the people around them have changed. This isn’t just the elderly. We see middle-aged and even young people who believe they know it all—and this becomes a kind of premature death, whereby the individual completely stagnates. Relationships can only be kept alive through being sensitive to another person’s needs, which may change over time, so we have to be continuous learners in this realm too. Continuous learning is therefore not just a business principle, it’s a life principle.

 

Needless to say, one of the big drivers of change in our modern times is the explosion of technological advancement, particularly in the digital realm. This is transforming many industries, and so now, more than ever, it’s pertinent for us to admit we can’t know everything, and that we have much to learn.

But whilst the idea of everyone becoming “voluntary” and “self-motivated” learners is a very nice one, there is a snag: not everyone is motivated by learning.

In Motivational Maps we have identified nine motivators that drive human behaviour. Of the nine, The Expert motivator embodies the drive to learn new things and demonstrate that knowledge. This is, appropriately, in the “Achievement” cluster of motivators (motivators that are more work or career focused). The Expert can never get enough learning and is really energised by the prospect of reading books, going on training courses, harnessing data points or learning opportunities, and then analysing all of this and generously relaying it to those in their circle. For Experts, thriving in a time of change, keeping up to date, and embodying the idea of lifelong learning is second nature. In fact, it excites and motivates them.

But what about the rest of us?

If Expert is not in your top three motivators, what then?

The power of Motivational Maps is that it allows us to make the invisible visible. When you discover what motivates you, so many aspects of your life become clearer. Likewise, from the organisational perspective, the previously hidden causes of blockages and problems may come to light. Discovering your motivators is itself a continuous learning process, of course, because unlike a personality profiling tool, your motivators change over time. This is an overly simplistic summation, but often when we find our motivators are being met, they drop down the priority scale. For example, if we were struggling financially, we might find The Builder motivator, which is concerned with material success, rising into our top three motivators. But, if we were to then secure a large deal that took off the financial pressure, it may well drop down again. Of course, some motivators do remain fixed over longer periods of time. We often find these motivators are ones that have become incorporated into the personality and identity of the individual.

Knowing what energises you, what motivates you, what “turns you on”, is an extremely useful tool when it comes to approaching continuous learning, because although the learning itself may not be our cup of tea, we can find ways around that by figuring out what does drive us. For example, if Builder was in your top three motivators, then you are likely to be partly driven by sales, success, and material reward—to word this more esoterically and archetypally: the physical manifestation of your inner success, be that a sports car, a house, or a leather-bound book on the shelf (and does your room also smell of rich mahogany?). How then could this correlate to learning or going on a training course? Well, now, you can make a “deal” with your inner psyche: “Learning this new information is going to help us become more successful.” Bargaining, in other words. Some short term pain for ultimately greater motivational fulfilment. In addition, you can re-frame the narrative so that it becomes more exciting to your existing motivators, “Because I have Builder in my top three motivators, I like having material things—therefore, I’m going to approach this learning differently by buying lots of beautiful books that I can put on my shelf afterwards.”

Of course, these principles also apply at an organisational level. If you know what motivates your people, then you can “sell” them the training or course far more easily. Likewise, if you are delivering difficult messages to colleagues as a result of new learning—for example, you feel the organisation needs to change direction in order to stay ahead of the curve—you can speak to people in the language that is most comfortable for them. To continue the previous example, let’s say you want to obsolete a product and replace it with a new, better offering that will be more appropriate for the current market. Rather than saying “Our old product wasn’t good enough” we can instead reframe this in accordance with the motivators in the room. Let’s look at two examples:

EXAMPLE 1: “John, as a Defender motivator I know you have this organisation’s safety and security covered. However, the data is showing that long-term this product is not going to stay the course. So, it’s best that we change now, before we need to, before there’s a problem, to ensure the company’s longevity.”

EXAMPLE 2: “Sarah, I know you have the Creator motivator in your top three, and there’s an opportunity I think to improve on your existing offering even further. Maybe I could leave it with you to come up with some ideas on how we could improve our current product offering?”

As you can see, these are totally different approaches, despite delivering the same message! Continuous learning is not always easy. By necessity, it requires us to let go of old ideas and re-write our processes and thinking, which can be painful if not handled delicately.

I truly believe the Motivational Map is one of the best tools for fostering a mindset of continuous learning in any organisation. And continuous learning is clearly one of the keys to not just business and organisational success, but long and healthy lives.

For more information about Motivational Maps follow this LINK


Create Motivation – Kate Turner

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Our last article took a close look at what Mark Terrell had to say about motivation in his book Motivated. Today we will be looking at another recent book on motivation: Create Motivation by Motivational Maps Senior Practitioner, Kate Turner.

Kate Turner expertly sets the scene for us at the start of her book, establishing where we are now and how we got here. She draws a parallel between Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (one of the foundational elements of the Motivational Map) and the progression of each generation’s changing needs in the workplace. Whilst clarifying that these are only broad definitions and that each individual is uniquely motivated, Kate Turner outlines:

“For ‘traditionalists’ (those born between 1928 and 1945) loyalty, job titles and money were the focus. With ‘baby boomers’ (born between 1946 and 1964) ambition and goal-orientation arrived. Status, expertise and ‘perks of the job’ were, and still are, valued by this generation. Then Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) came along with their entrepreneurial spirit, demand for greater independence and work-life balance. For them, promotion on merit, not on years served, are important. Flexibility, recognition from bosses and financial gain all became important work-based rewards. Then came the Millennials (born after 1980), our most tech-savvy generation, along with opportunities for collaboration, flexibility and continuous learning. Millennials regularly seek feedback and need to know how they make a difference. This generation is the first to consistently seek self-actualisation (the process of realising one’s full potential) in the workplace, whereas previous generations probably saw this as something that would only be achieved outside of work. Next, we have Generation Z (born from the late 1990’s onwards), who are pushing the boundaries even further of what they want work to provide for them.”

She then explains:

“As each ‘lower order’ need was expressed, businesses adopted policies and practices to accommodate many of them. Self-actualisation, therefore, was inevitably going to be the next challenge that businesses needed to satisfy.”

Of course, this creates a massive challenge for businesses, because up until this point they have been “more focused on profit and targets than on purpose and meaning”. In addition, there are now potentially five generations working alongside each other, which almost certainly means a diversely motivated workforce!

“Now, more than ever, businesses need to get to grips with the individual motivations of its people and not just offer blanket reward packages and opportunities.”

Part of tackling this problem is challenging the traditional notion that employees are paid, and that is their reward for work. Kate Turner highlights how this attitude creates a vicious cycle (she terms it “the depletion cycle”).

  • We are unfulfilled by our work,
  • this drains and depletes our energy,
  • we then buy “things” to get a small dopamine hit
  • and then need to keep working to afford the things we buy!

“Not only does this meaningless consumption numb our souls, it is killing the planet.”

Kate Turner continually draws parallels between the individual arena and the wider picture. Our actions affect the wider whole and interrelate with bigger cultural movements. In esoteric philosophy this would be described as the interrelationship of the microcosm and macrocosm. To quote Gladiator, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” Not necessarily in the sense of an “after-life”, though it’s a perfectly valid interpretation, but in the eternity of the here and now. Our decisions day to day actually do have an impact on the world, on every level of reality, from the emotional to the material.

Kate Turner talks about reaching a place of inner stillness in which we may finally hear “what makes us truly happy at a soul level”. This correlates with the ancient wisdom of Hindu, Zen, and Buddhist teaching (and esoteric Christian teachings as well) in which through meditation and prayer we may quite the noise of the world and hear the truth instead by getting in touch with the inner self.

This process will also lead us to becoming leaders. Rather than having a view of leaders being a rare minority, Kate Turner recognises that all of us can be leaders if we commit to, “the daily practice of taking responsibility for oneself, showing up fully and continuing to grow while enabling others to do the same.”

Rather than debating organisational structures (“top down” or “bottom up”), she advocates for a system whereby each person reclaims their own individual power.

To do this, we have to “align our actions and intentions with our motivations”, proving once again the vital importance of motivation in our lives!

This book makes an important contribution to the wellness and workplace debate; on top of which it provides practical tools and ideas to help implement what needs to be done if we are to have a thriving work environment. Strongly recommended as a great read.

To find out more follow this link...


MOTIVATED by Mark Terrell (2021)

 

Motivated

Motivation is such a vast topic that it cannot belong to one author. Thankfully, awareness of the importance of motivation is growing, and there are many fabulous authors contributing to our understanding of what motivation is, why we need it, and how we can harness and improve our motivation levels. 

In Motivated by Mark Terrell, Motivational Maps Business Practitioner and creator of The Reluctant Leader Academy, we see that motivation is the foundation that underpins every other element of business. His tripartite model for leadership is centred around three core elements: “you”, your teams, and the business all working in harmony. Though his book is aimed at business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders (reluctant ones, in fact!), what’s clear is that without personal motivation, everything else falls apart.

“If not addressed, a lack of focus on leading, managing and developing your team will lead to the problems of having an unhappy, disengaged, and unproductive team. Your time will be taken up dealing with low morale, and you’ll wonder why you bothered employing people at all.”

But why do so many of us struggle to focus on leading when we start our own business? Mark Terrell has the disarmingly simple answer:

“Not wanting to be in charge is often linked to a focus on other things, or in other words, it is way down the list of priorities, and subsequently is done badly or not at all.”

These other priorities are likely related to our other motivators. For example, if we want to create, and that is our foremost and primary motivator, how likely are we to want to spend copious amounts of time handling queries from our employees? Not very. 

Mark Terrell suggests that re-connecting with the original motive (and note how he draws attention to the etymological link between the word motive and motivation) for starting a business, we can re-invigorate our sense of purpose, and get a new perspective.

“As time goes by and as our commitment to the business increases, it’s easy to forget what it was because we now relate more to our current circumstances.”

This is so well observed. We may start a business because, for example, we want “more free time”. However, often, the process of making a business fully operational and even self-sufficient means extraordinary amounts of work, which actually reduces our free time! The more determined we become to make the business work (i.e. “as our commitment to the business increases”), the more we actually move away from our initial motive (or in other words: away from what motivates us). When we move away from what motivates us, we lose energy, which in turn makes it harder and harder to “show up” and keep working on the business. In fact, we may even begin to resent the business and become disillusioned with it. We may feel it is a burden and drain, not the liberation we once hoped.

Motivated succinctly and pragmatically illustrates this all-too-relatable problem, but thankfully, also provides succinct and pragmatic solutions. It begins, according to Terrell, with the Self. Quoting Marcus Aurelius, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

We have to identify our biggest obstacle, and solve it, if we are to move forward. But what is interesting about this book in comparison to so many self-help or business books out there is that rather than talking about external obstacles, such as economic trends, technological disruption, or competitors, Terrell discusses the internal obstacles:

What do you think your biggest obstacle is? It could be tasks that you regard as mundane even though they are vital to the business, or maybe money isn’t something you strive for, and consequently, the cash flow in the business is tight.”

Of course, internal obstacles are far more potent barriers. Firstly, because we are often totally unaware of them. And secondly, because our thoughts, our mind, entirely shapes reality. There are many ways both scientific and spiritual of referring to this phenomenon, which has been observed in cultures as diverse as non-dual Buddhism and quantum physics. Mark Terrell describes it as our “filters”.

“We all have filters specific to us that allow us to act on information we see as relevant to us. This is why we can experience the same event as someone else, but their recollection of it could be totally different to ours. Once those filters have done their work, we then make an internal representation using our thoughts, which leads to our state of thinking, which leads to a behaviour. With this is mind, we need to be able to control our filters by being focused on what we really want.”

And getting to what we want is really the issue here. Otherwise, why start a business in the first place! In order to do that, however, we have to become the best version of ourselves, and the best leaders we can be. Thankfully, leadership and motivation, according to Mark Terrell, are not inherent traits we can do nothing about, but something we can develop:

“There is an adage that says leaders are born, not made, which is nonsense.”

A hugely encouraging thought!

You can purchase a copy of MOTIVATED from The Reluctant Leader Academy