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February 2011

Getting Motivated Yourself


Being consistently motivated is one of the most important tasks we have in our life, although many people have no idea just how important it is. The reason it is so important is quite simple: the quality of life depends on it. When we are motivated we feel good, and when we are not, we don't! However, knowing what motivates us is another question. And the first thing about how is knowing what actually does motivate us. Self awareness, then, is the beginning of all wisdom. After all, we are all different, and it should come as no surprise we have different motivators.

I say it should come as no surprise that we are all different, but strangely this fact seems to elude most employers in the private and public sectors. They tend to have a one size fits all kind of view of people and this is costing them money. Why? Because the view they almost always have is that the only reason people work is for money, and so their reward structures are invariably harnessed around pay increases – which are costly. What if, instead of paying people more, and potentially demotivating them, which again bizarrely often happens, we gave them what they really wanted and this didn't cost them at all?

To know yourself you have to understand more than the underlying motivators of your personality – the 'basic' four motivators of control, recognition, belonging and mastery. This is because motivation derives not only from personality, but from other elements of the human psyche, namely the self-concept and our expectations or beliefs. This overlay makes understanding what our motivators are more complex than simply doing a personality profile, which can be positively misleading.

There are nine fundamental motivators, and we have all of them in our self, but three predominate; working out which three is what understanding our motivators is about, for when we know this, we can feed the motivators, and so find satisfaction.

The nine motivators are: Meaning (or making a difference), sometimes called The Searcher; Autonomy (or freedom), sometimes called the Spirit; innovation, sometimes called The Creator; mastery, sometimes called The Expert; money, sometimes called The Builder; power, sometimes called The Director; recognition, sometimes called The Star; belonging, sometimes called The Friend; and security, sometimes called The Defender.

A simple, but not wholly accurate way of establishing your top three motivators, is to go through the list and score each out of ten, how much does this mean to me, ten being vital, and 1 meaning not much at all? So, for example, how important is Making a difference to me out of 10? How important to me is belonging out of ten? And so on. When you have done this, rank order your list. Where there are ties, hold them both in mind and then choose which for you is the more important. The key thing is finding the top three.

Once you know this, you can then start applying 'reward strategies' to yourself. To do this you need to think about what 'fuel' drives that particular motivator. Let me, therefore, give you some basic and preliminary ideas about each motivator.

The Searcher wants to make a difference, so ask, what motivates them? And the most generic answer is: quality feedback – Searchers love feedback because when they get it they know they have made that difference! Are we seeking feedback? Similarly, the Spirit wants more opportunities to make their own decisions, more empowerment. The Creator wants more creative problems to solve. So seek these out for yourself!

The Expert loves learning and development – what courses can you go on? The Builder likes material possessions – so let's reset goals and rewards and give ourselves treats; and the Director wants to be given more responsibility – since it increases the sense of power. Where can you request more? How can you, if they are in your profile, actively seek them out?

Finally, the Star wants recognition, so let's think of awards and status; the Friend wants belonging, so how can we be more involved? And the Defender wants security, so feeding that need is more information and knowledge, which we can be more active in seeking out.

If you consider the above and how it applies to you, you will realise that there is a lot you can do to practically increase your own motivation. Now, go for it!

Getting creative

We meet many people, and young people, who are bored. For many this is an affectation, but a dangerous one, that can easily become a full time state of mind. At the weekend I was at an Open Fencing tournament where my son competed. One of the top fencers there confided to me, after he had won all the matches in his poule, that he was bored – it was too easy. I saw others at the top affecting the same state – their body language telling their opponents that this really was a waste of their valuable time. And yet there were too other top fencers who seemed to enjoy the whole thing and give their opposition respect. Which of these were really fencers?

As my friend, Dr Keith Selby, used to observe when graduate students complained to him that they were bored with the course, with the tutors, with the books: “You are bored because you don't know enough”. This is a profound observation – nothing is boring, not even train spotting, if we but knew enough about it. If we could throw ourselves wholeheartedly into learning about any thing we would find that there is a whole world of interest there. And we would also find that everything, the deeper you go, is connected.

In fact, the deeper you go, the less learning becomes important; for when we learn there is a reason for it – our personal reason and the fact that learning itself is a discipline with structures. But as we go deeper we go into the heart of the mystery whereby the only reason for anything is itself! It alone is what it is and for that reason is fascinating. The best analogy for this is love: if we love somebody for any reason – wealth, looks, sex, status, advantage, revenge, control, manipulation, security or anything – other than simply for themselves, then we have never loved.

Thus love is essentially creative; or, to be creative is to love because the craftsman or woman always loves their tools and materials: the clay, the canvas, the pen, the piano, the backdrop to the creative activity – the garden in which the plants are to be arrayed.

Creativity is independent of need or wealth or anything else - it happens because it is essential in the sense of being of the essence of the Spirit itself, and so of our spirit. That's why there are billions and trillions of blades of grass: when God made the first one, he didn't think, Job Done! The experience was so good, he carried on making those grass blades because every single one gave a wow! Look, another one! And another – wow! How good does that feel?

And so too we must keep wrestling with the next blade till it is created and the life comes and comes alive. The life we live needs to be a work of art that comes alive – Pygmalion-like, if you will. And where does all this creativity begin? It begins in the imagination – where all things are possible.


Spirit and light


One of the big questions of existence – in the West but virtually nowhere else – is whether the spiritual world is a reality. Put another way, whether matter created mind or more accurately whether mind 'evolved' from matter; or, as all significant religions hold, mind created matter. The word most often used for 'mind', of course, is God, but Consciousness will do, as will the Tao, the One, the Self.

The 'matter' first camp, including all atheists, materialists, Evolutionists (with a capital E, for in a more limited sense there clearly is 'evolution'), and many, but not all, scientists, like to pretend that their view is objective, is scientific, and that there is no evidence for the spirit, despite the universal testimony and experience of mankind from the beginning, and despite what Socrates saw as the proof which is represented by the existence of the human soul. Naturally, materialists aren't keen on the concept of the soul either, so that too is dismissed from discussions about the nature of reality.

However, the truth is not easily suppressed, and certainly cannot long be done so by human beings, because as Dr Johnson observed long ago: 'The mind can only repose upon the stability of truth', and where there is falsehood there is unease. Thus it is that everywhere we look we find traces, glimpses, of the glory that is the One – that is the Spirit, which we also experience within if we care to look. What are these traces, these glimpses?

One of my favourite is the curious set of parallels that exist between our 'real' material world, which we absolutely seem to know exists, and this 'ideal' spiritual world whose existence seems so problematic and controversial to materialists. And it is this: that in the world that we know – of space-time - there are two elements which seem peculiarly disconnected: matter and light.

Light is an absolute – all observers of light, whatever speed they travel at, find that the speed of light relative to them is the same; of course, that is not true of matter. Light does not exist in time; matter does. Light can be divided but is not diminished thereby; matter is. I could go on, but what is this like? It's like the difference between the body and our consciousness. In a strange way matter-light represents a series of parallels to body-consciousness (or spirit).

Peter Russell in his fascinating book, The White Hole in Time, makes a series of fascinating comparisons between light and consciousness. Light and consciousness have several things in common, he says, including: they exist solely in the present moment, they share the same experience of now, neither is an object or thing or part of the physical world, neither exists in the space-time we know, both are immaterial.

And this is why, of course, light features so prominently in the major religions: the creation of light is a metaphor for consciousness itself, for spirit itself. We see light with our sight, but we cannot see consciousness or spirit with our sight – no, we see it indirectly, obliquely, with insight. This is why the hunger to experience God – the spirit – directly is so strong: to get beyond the indirection and experience the 'true light', as Jesus called it, as it really 'shines' – for that is its 'Glory'.

So, we see from this the absurdity of those people who like to parody heaven as a place where people sit around playing harps and singing inconsequential hymns. No, if heaven exists then it would be no-place at all, in no-time at all, and where consciousness more directly moved into its own conscious perceptual view – where the 'light' shines. Like having been in total darkness an unendurably long time, and then the sun rises on the eastern rim, and one stares in total fascination. That is why, presumably, the ancient Egyptians saw their Pharaohs after death ascending to the stars – the very centres of light, and the very forges of creation.

Motivating young people

On Friday I drove up with Dr Dave Richards of Bournemouth University's Business School to Warwick University's Science park for the launch of Smart Development Solutions' Youth Map. This is a product that has been developed literally through 'public' demand. Over the past three years whenever I have had educationalists – headteachers, teachers, consultants – experiencing our Motivational Map we have had the enquiry: 'Have you thought about doing one of these for kids? You know teachers – and parents – could really use an insight into what motivates their child/class.'

After several false starts we finally got to it – and the real catalyst was meeting Julie Holden, the MD of Smart Solutions, who insisted we do it; moreover, she acquired a long term exclusive license for the UK and more beside in order to make this the focal point of her business. Julie is a woman with true focus: once the agreement was signed back in October her drive and determination ensured that everything would be ready for the launch on the 4th February. That everything including running and evaluation a pilot at a Comprehensive school, massive web development, intricate design work, training packages and licensing structures. Truly an amazing achievement.

And the day was great – nearly 40 experts in attendance – the room felt packed, and it seemed that everyone was straining to hear all the news and see all the detail on the slides. There were fantastic presentations from Julie about the 'system' itself, and from Jenny Goad about the evaluation with the kids at her school, Avonbourne, where she headed up Year 9. The enthusiasm was palpable. I introduced the opening session for about half an hour and explained where all this had come from – the journey in fact. And then I went on to explain why we needed Motivational Maps Youth.

First, because the powers of coercion had failed; the command and control model, so prevalent in business and education, no longer worked. Thus, we had to find a way that aligned itself with the grain of people instead of just kicking them around.

Second, we had to recognise at all levels of society, including our kids, that motivation was a core element of the performance mix. So, we were not promoting motivation for the sake of motivation, but to enable young people to achieve more. The truth is that there is a direct correlation between how we perform and our levels of self-esteem: both reinforce each other; if we can concentrate on motivation then and make a difference, we will impact young people's self concept at a profound level. As Virgil put it: “success nourished them; they seemed to be able, and so they were able.”

Third, the levels of our motivation were linked to the quality of our life. This was particularly pertinent at the moment in the light of David Cameron's desire to want to measure happiness and increase it. Happiness seems to me quite nebulous, but motivation has a language and a metric, and we could measure the whole country if he'd ask us! What would it show? The direction and the amount of positive energy people have. High scores would mean people were happy, and if not exactly that word, then pretty immune to the stress factors that might lead them to be depressed or ill. Low scores, on the other hand, would suggest definite unhappiness and at a certain level real stress.

Motivational Maps Youth is an astonishing system, and can have a massive impact on education everywhere in the world. For this reason I shall return to the topic in future blogs. Are your children motivated? Everyone needs motivation! 

The bee attitudes

My friend David Stephens ( recently joked that I should explore the correlations between bees – tiny insect creatures that I especially like – and their attitudes and the Beatitudes of Jesus as depicted in the Gospels. Hmm, interesting challenge.

As for the bees I have recently added my signature to the Avaaz organisation's attempt to prevent toxic pesticides which are killing them. Please join this movement: 

As for the Beatitudes, based on Matthew's gospel, there are nine positive attitudes from the opening of the Sermon of the Mount.

Blessed are the poor in spirit...

Blessed are those who mourn...

Blessed are the gentle...

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness...

Blessed are the merciful...

Blessed are the pure in heart...

Blessed are the peacemakers...

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness...

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you...

I think Bees reflect all this. First, they are poor in spirit – they humbly go about their work on the flowers. True, they get excited when they discover the pollen, but if another explorer is there, then they quickly move somewhere else. They don't shove other insects around much.

They mourn too – the lovely sound of their buzzing, as the day fades and the Sun god begins to retire to his private place of darkness, is like an elegy for the lost light.

And they are gentle – not like their waspish cousin. How rare the bee that stings! They hunger and thirst for the pure righteousness of nectar. Like their gentleness, they are merciful too, especially to humans, providing copious quantities of honey and wax and other things for our delight and taste and delectation.

Their pureness of heart is legendary and leads to such pure honey – crystal like and crystal light - oh! Such sweetness, yet so anti-septic in its properties: impure bacteria and midget filths have little scope to live where pure honey is.

They are peace makers; their hives are epitomes of collaboration and support; they help each other; their roles are clear and defined; all is peace and harmony. And when persecuted, by microbes and viruses, they persist with their work till the very end – their righteousness shines as an example to us all.

Finally, they are blessed whatever we say, and whatever we do – with pesticides – to bees. Exalted in their symmetrical hives of heaven, they ignore the rant of the homeless and the dispossessed, and the frantic humans seeking their paltry homes on Earth, for together they are a community – they are One. Blessed be the busy bee for fly they do above all our concerns.