We’ve all heard the phrase ‘practice what you preach’. It’s an essential concept. We need to embody the principles that we expect others to uphold. The problem is that, being human, we are susceptible to hypocrisy. I found this myself, at cost. I spent years using the Motivational Maps tool, getting people to realise what their true drivers were, their energy source, their motivation, and helping them to align their lives with these inner drives for greater wellbeing and performance. I then disregarded what my motivational profile was telling me. That I needed to be doing more creative pursuits. I had gotten so locked into delivering: going on the road, turning up at meetings, giving talks, training one to one and training teams, that I had somewhere lost sight of my true primary driver, which was to create content (not deliver it). I am fairly sure this is part of what resulted in my crash and subsequent cancer, though there were perhaps other factors at play there as well.
However, surviving the cancer, emerging from the belly of that whale, I had a new outlook and perspective on life, and also a new outlook on how to transform my business so that I could do more creation, what was truly at my core. The fruit of this labour are my three (soon to be four) books on motivation: Mapping Motivation, Mapping Motivation for Coaching (with Bevis Moynan) and Mapping Motivation for Engagement (with Steve Jones). These three texts explore the greatest challenge that most organisations face: that of motivating their staff and creating a strong, cooperative team environment. At the heart of these books is my product, the Motivational Map, which is self-perception diagnostic tool that makes visible what is invisible: our inner drives, desires, and feelings. It should be noted, however, that this is not a book just for managers, CEOs, or management consultants; this is a book that promotes overturning the traditional command and control hierarchy of business and replacing it with a modern bottom-up approach, where people are empowered. I hope it is of benefit to anyone who wants to learn more about what drives us and how we can boost motivational levels for ourselves and others.
Motivation is not secret, it is not Hermetic lore to be sealed away by a cadre of elite. Motivation is for all. As a result, I want to share some of the information and secrets contained in these books with you here to help you think about how you can improve your life. I’ll be writing nine blogs in total, covering topics from all three books. Are you read to come with me on this motivation journey? I hope so!
“Independent of whether we have high IQs or low ones, whether we are tall or short, or whether even we are rich or poor, perhaps the biggest single determinant of the quality of our lives is how motivated we are at any given moment, and over prolonged periods of time.” - Mapping Motivation
The word ‘motivation’ and ‘motivational’ is bandied around a lot nowadays, but it is never very well defined. We talk about motivational athletes, or even billionaires who tell their motivational sob-story about growing up with ‘only a dream’. None of this is very useful or something that the every day person can really harness in any meaningful way. Organisations spend thousands, sometimes tens of thousands or even hundreds, on booking motivational speakers who rev up their sales force for a day, only to see their performance drop back to normal within 48 hours. Where are they going wrong?
I like to define motivation as energy. It is what feeds us. When we do things we are motivated by, it increases our excitement, our focus, our energy, our commitment, and also our enjoyment. Identifying what we are motivated by, however, is not easy. I know many people, who are very insightful, who have spent a lifetime trying to figure out their own motivations and really revealing they are completely blind to them. We all are, to an extent. Our self is always the blind spot. We cannot ‘see’ ourselves, except when we look in a mirror. So, the mirror is a tool to reveal what we cannot see. The Motivational Maps, similarly, allow us to look at ourselves more clearly.
There are nine motivators. These are synthesised from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Edgar Schein’s Career Anchors and the Enneagram. They are: the Defender, the need for security, the Friend, the need for belonging, the Star, the need for recognition, the Builder, the need for material gain, the Expert, the need for knowledge and skills, the Director, the need for control, the Spirit, the need for autonomy and independence, the Creator, the need to either bring new things into the world or improve existing things, and the Searcher, the desire to make a difference to others, or, in fact, to the world. No motivator is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than another. All of them are valid. In fact, we all have all nine motivators within us, but generally two or three of them are dominant.
How is this helpful? Well, it reveals, very simply, what drives us. For example. I am a Creator, that is my number one ranked motivator, and therefore I need to make sure that I have time in my day for creative things: writing motivational books, writing blogs, listening to music, composing poetry. When I do these things, I get a massive energy and happiness boost. It is why I get out of bed in the morning, it completes my life. However, you might be motivated by something completely different. It seems obvious when you look at it like this, but it is amazing how many people take this cookie-cutter ‘one size fits all’ approach to people and wonder why it doesn’t work.
Let’s look at an example. What if a CEO wanted to reward their employees for a good year? What if they decided to give them all a pay-rise? That seems pretty sensible, right? Everybody wins. Except, actually, only 1 in 9 of your employees is likely to be a Builder and therefore motivated by material gain (perhaps more if they worked in an Accountancy firm or Banking – different professions attract different motivators). I’ve seen numerous examples of companies who give all their employees a pay-rise and it actually de-motivates them! It creates all kinds of problems when you look beneath the surface: ‘He got a bigger pay-rise than me, that’s not fair’ or ‘He got the same rise as me yet I’ve worked five times harder than he has’. Can you see how money does not, in fact, solve the problem of motivation at all, except when you are perhaps dealing with a Builder motivator.
Now, what if that CEO approached their reward strategy differently? What if it was custom to each person? The problem with that is working out what people want. The idea of Motivational Maps is to make it very easy to do this.
EXERCISE: Your exercise for this week is to make a note of the top three motivators from the list I have provided that you think could be applicable to you. Try and rank them from 1 through to 3. What does this reveal to you? Does it cause you reflect on previous roles and why they were or were not suitable for you? What does it say about your current role? We’ll look at this in more depth next week.
If you want to read more about Motivational Maps and unlocking the secrets of engagement, then you can find Mapping Motivation at the Routledge website.