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November 2019

THE LAW OF THREE PART 3: MOTIVATION & FEAR

 

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Welcome to the last instalment of the "law of three". In part 1, we examined what the "law of three" is on a macro-logical level and looked at affirmation, denial, and reconciliation. In part 2, we drilled down into how this applies to business and the Self Concept. In this final part we will be looking at the way fear interacts with motivation! 

In Motivational Maps, we have a system we call RAG. It stands for Relationship, Achievement, and Growth. These are three clusters of motivators. There are nine motivators, in all, which are modelled off of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Edgar Schrein’s Career Anchors, and the Enneagram. And, obeying the “law of three”, they fall into three groups of three, representing their tendencies.

 

  • Relationship motivators deal with emotional / interpersonal needs: security (Defender), belonging (Friend), and recognition (Star)

 

  • Achievement motivators deal with professional or career-orientated needs: control (Director), financial or material gain (Builder), and skills and knowledge acquisition (Expert)

 

  • Growth motivators deal with personal development and the spiritual self: freedom and independence (Spirit), creativity and imagination (Creator), and making a difference / meaning (Searcher)

 

Relationship motivators are past-focused, and change-resistant. Achievement motivators are present-focused and change-ambivalent. Growth motivators are future-focused and change-friendly. It’s not good or bad to belong to any one of these groups, they merely reflect our internal drives that, if not met, may cause us to become demotivated.

 

How do they fit into the Self Concept model? Well, very simply.

 

  • Relationship

    • Past

    • Self Esteem

    • Feeling

 

  • Achievement

    • Present

    • Self Image

    • Thinking

 

 

  • Growth

    • Future

    • Ideal Self

    • Knowing

 

It should be noted that at this level, the Affirm, Deny, Reconcile model becomes more complex, because any one of these can Affirm, Deny, or Reconcile dependent on circumstances. For example, the Ideal Self may affirm a bright future, which is denied by past experience (Self Esteem) and then reconciled by present Self Image. These forces are constantly in motion. So, we must observe them in action. Clive Barker understood this when writing his fiction that his three “players” or characters could, at any given time, take on a different role. And, indeed they do. His Reconciler, Gentle, is at times the Denier. His Denier, the assassin Pie’oh’pah, becomes an Affirmer in many instances. So, in real life, do we switch roles dependent on context and circumstance.

 

There is one more level of overlay to complete this “law of three”. We have spoken about how the Self Concept not only works at an individual level, but an organisational one too. This is also true of RAG. Organisations will have an overall tendency toward Relationship motivators, Achievement motivators or Growth motivators, depending on the type of people they have employed. Theoretically, of course, certain types of job will attract certain types of motivator. But of course, there will also be a host of people in a job that is not an ideal fit for their motivators – or else, a more complex fit.

 

When we observe these organisation tendencies, this changes how we approach addressing the “hygiene factors” or self-care of the people involved. Due to RAG, every organisation will have a leaning towards a priority. This leads to another trinity: Values, Mission & Vision.

 

  • Relationship cluster organisations will prioritise values, because these are shared beliefs, and communal. This is what will drive them.

 

  • Achievement cluster organisations will prioritise the mission.

 

  • Growth cluster motivators will prioritise the vision.

 

Some people might ask whether there is a difference between a mission and a vision. The difference is subtle. A vision is a projected future, an ideal to strive towards, such as “to transform the way management is approached worldwide”. A mission is more concrete. It’s to sell ten-thousand units or to “impact a million people”. Consider how these differences might affect your organisation or clients, and how you might make different decisions based on understanding these deeper drives.

 

Finally, I want to talk about fear. Motivation and fear are intrisically linked. Motivation is a source of energy. We feed our motivation by meeting our motivational needs (and it’s worth re-iterating, that we all have all nine motivators, we simply have some we prioritise more than others). However, when we do not feed our motivators, that is when fear sets in. We can start to move away from things that de-motivate us rather than moving towards what motivates us. For example, if we have Spirit as our top motivator, which is the desire for independence, we begin to rebel against controlling people in our organisation, rather than quitting our job and striking out on our own. Or, choosing to influence the parts of our job we can control.

 

Decisions based on fear are never healthy. Yet, we see the majority of people are paralysed by fear. They cannot quit their jobs for fear of never finding another. They cannot create new things for fear they will be ridiculed. And so on. When every decision his made out of fear, we only deepen the quagmire into which we are sinking. It is only by breaking loose from the fear that we can seize our own destiny and become our true selves. Businesses make the same mistake. They move away from opportunities out of fear of risk, or, they recklessly take every opportunity, because they are scared of missing out on what their competitors might have.

 

Each motivational RAG cluster has a specific fear that is attached to it. Being aware of this fear will help you, at an individual, team, and organisational level, not to make decisions based on fear.

 

Relationship cluster motivators fear failure. It’s often said of Defender, Friend, and Star motivators that when they are demotivated or struggling they spend more time avoiding mistakes, covering their backs, than being productive. We see this in numerous organisations too, where bureaucratic covering (the endless sending of emails to verify who said what and who is accountable) takes up more of the daily routine than actually working.

 

Achievement cluster motivators fear people. Or rather, the ambiguity of people. This expresses itself in a number of ways. The Director motivator, for example, wants to control people, perhaps because it doesn’t like the thought of unpredictable behaviour, so it keeps people on lockdown. The Expert motivator, typified by the IT guru or “geek”, doesn’t like people because they are ambiguous. There are exceptions, of course, such as someone who perhaps has their expertise in the study of people (re: psychology), but even then don’t we observe an attempt to quantify the unknown? Finally, Builder motivators fear people because they are by nature the most competitive motivator. Who else is hot on their tail? Organisations that are Achievement cluster tend to neglect the people in their organisation because they do not understand them. The classic situation is that they offer bonuses and financial perks which only serve to demotivate people further. Strange, but true!

 

Growth cluster motivators fear stopping. To stand still is death to the Growth motivators. They are constantly driving forward (with their future orientation), trying to create new things and broaden their horizons. As a result, the past – and retrogression – scares them. We see organisations like this too, where all their products are rushed to market, where they are endlessly updating their software or offerings, because they simply cannot sit still and regroup.

 

So, let’s recap on the many levels of the “law of three”:

 

  • Relationship

    • Past

    • Self Esteem

    • Feeling

    • Values driven

    • Fear failure

 

  • Achievement

    • Present

    • Self Image

    • Thinking

    • Mission driven

    • Fear people

 

 

  • Growth

    • Future

    • Ideal Self

    • Knowing

    • Vision driven

    • Fear stopping

 

There are many more aspects to the “law of three”, and have no doubt that members of the Maps community will continue to expand upon this model, but hopefully this has given you some insight into the secret law of the universe, and how to use it to navigate the complexity of dealing with people and teams.

For more information on RAG, Self Concept, motivation and leadership, check out James Sale's book series Mapping Motivation

 


THE LAW OF THREE PART 2: THE SELF CONCEPT

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Last week, we introduced the "law of three". Now we have this groundwork, how can we more effectively use the “law of three” when it comes to leadership, management, coaching, and business? We might start by examining the “law of three” in action when we view the Self Concept. The Self Concept is divided into three constituent parts:

 

  • Self Esteem (affirmation) which is how we feel about ourselves.

  • Self Image (denial) which is what we think about ourselves (and this is most-often very far from reality, hence a “denial”)

  • Ideal Self (reconciliation) which is how imagine ourselves in the future, and hence a reconciliation point for the dispirit Self Esteem and Self Image.

 

So, straight away, we can see where conflicts and tensions might arise for individuals (and even teams and organisations – but more on that later) when we view this tripartite model. Most people think they “know themselves”, but actually, this is not true. Most people have a blind spot when it comes to themselves (the doctor cannot heal his/her own ailment), and hence their Self Image, or conscious idea of themselves, is at odds with how they really feel about themselves (Esteem).

 

Our inability to see ourselves as we see others is the reason why we have so many self-help books, personality profilers, psychometrics and diagnostics, and a tendency to over-identify with groups and movements – all to form a sense of identity. Walter Pater, a 19th Century English essayist and art critic, once said: “The first step towards seeing one's object as it really is, is to know one's own impression, to discriminate it, to realise it distinctly. What is this song or picture, this engaging personality in life or in a book, to me?”

 

One classic example of conflicted Self Concept is that of the depressive comedian. There are two very different selves here. One is garrulous, funny, confident, and can project this in abundance to an audience. The other hates themselves. We are all the depressive comedian to some extent. We have an idea of ourselves that is artificially constructed to preserve our sanity, because if we give in to the nagging force of the unconscious, the feeling state, we might well self-immolate.

 

The resolution to this is the Ideal Self, the Self that we project into the future. Maybe we can improve ourselves through x and y steps, so we feel better about ourselves, and more accurately reflect our Self Image. This is the fundamental basics of coaching: helping people to take steps toward their Ideal Self. It is also, however, part of working with teams and organisations. Every team and organisation also has a Self Concept. There is a Self Image, or in other words, what the company thinks it is – the content of which is often marketed on websites, social media, and promotional advertising. This is also often reflected in the “core values” that companies like to state (but rarely adhere to). This leads on to the Self Esteem, what the people in the organisation actually feel the company is. Often, it is completely out of whack with the Self Image. For example, the company states a core value as “caring for every employee”, but then proceeds to treat them awfully. Finally, we have the Ideal Self: where the organisation wants to be in five or ten or even twenty years’ time.

 

To go back to basics, we can see there is also a time correspondence with these three concepts. Self Esteem, for example, is rooted in the past. It is how we feel about ourselves, which is often tied to past experiences. The Self Image, on the other hand, is rooted in the present. It is how we have constructed our identity based on thinking. The Ideal Self, of course, is rooted in the future. As you can see, they also correspond with think, feel, know. We feel Self Esteem. We think Self Image. And we know, with gut-intelligence instinct, our Ideal Self. By understanding the interactions of these three forces, we can better get to the root of the problem.

Stay tuned for the final part, part 3, next week!