Motivation is an exciting topic; apart from leading to the three Ps of Performance, Productivity and Profit, motivation is what we need in life independently of whether we perform better. I like to say that my two cats have low IQs, small knowledge and a limited skills repertoire that always seem to remain the same. Yet despite that they have a marvellous life in our home and in our garden because
they are always highly motivated – to relax, to exercise and even to sleep!
What, then, are the three Es that motivation is correlated with?
First, motivation is about the E of Engagement whether this is on an organisational, team or individual level. And this is obvious: when we are motivated we become involved, absorbed in what we are doing – we become engaged in what we are doing. Engagement strategies that are all the rage at the moment, especially in the USA and Canada, are good in themselves but frequently they are too generic to be truly effective at the organisational level.
What do I mean by that? I mean that someone works out that the staff would be more ‘engaged’ if the benefits that the organisation offered were more substantial: thus, everyone receives the better pension package, the superior holiday entitlements, the universal access to the gym or rest room being built on the premises. And take that last example: yes, of course, it slightly motivating to think your company cares enough about you to provide a gym or rest room, but what percentage really take up this option consistently? Not everyone wants a rest room or a gym.
I like to call this the carpet-bombing approach to engagement or motivation. As opposed to the Exocet missile approach – knowing what does actually motivate each individual, each team, and the dominant pattern for the whole organisation. Motivation is probably at least 70% of the engagement mix, and yet instead of understanding it, organisations assume it will be produced by generic engagement strategies that operate on a one-size-fits-all basis.
Motivation is also about the second E, which is Enthusiasm. This is arguably the most attractive quality to be found in any human being. We see the geek and his or her passion for some abstruse and recondite topic or hobby, but the very love for it and the way they talk about it is infectious. Ultimately, the most enthusiastic people are children, which is one reason why they are so attractive: unaffected by cynicism, cool and chic – they love what they love and are unabashedly enthusiastic about it.
To be enthusiastic is to be forever young and there is a good reason for this: namely, the etymology of the word comes from two Greek words meaning, God-Breathed or God-in-us. Enthusiastic people seem to have a spirit – a divine spirit – in them that transcends time and the ordinary, and immunises them against mortality. If this sounds pie-in-the-skiey we need to bear in mind its practical application: as Brian Tracy, the great American sales guru, once observed: “50% of any sale is a transfer of enthusiasm”. In other words, irrespective of qualification, knowledge and experience, sheer enthusiasm alone can carry you to sales success in any profession! That’s a pretty amazing fact.
But of course, if you are ‘god-breathed’ one you might expect.
Finally, motivation is about the third E, which is Energy. My favourite synonym for motivation is energy. As with the cats, the quality of your life and mine is directly correlated with the amount of energy you have at any one time. And, as with fitness, health and even relationships, you can improve these by – one, knowing where you currently are; two, planning to improve; and three, taking action.
Take fitness: we either know we are unfit or some expert like our doctor or personal coach tell us that fact. We do a diagnostic to find out exactly our situation. Then we are told what to do about it. In medical jargon: examination, diagnosis, prescription. Of course, we need to take the prescription. So with motivation: if we do the audit – and Motivational Maps is a great one – we will discover where we are. From that we can build reward strategies that lead us – if we follow them – into higher levels of motivation. Which means, more energy, more quality of life!
So, the ultimate benefit of the 3Es is quality of life – a pretty big benefit I think you will all agree?