The intention of these articles is to provide you with five key aspects of motivation that will help you, and perhaps your team too, understand what motivating people is really all about. Each article will tackle a new aspect in five-part series.
In our last blog, we covered what motivation is, why it’s important, and how it is often invisible to us. In this article, we’ll be covering the second aspect of motivation: the quality it brings to our lives.
Motivation is a hidden force that drives us. Often, we only start taking notice of motivation when we feel its lack. Motivation is energy. Though it is invisible and intangible, we do experience motivation physically in the form of energy. Without motivation, our lives lack zing, our business ventures lack drive and frisson; without motivation, we are like sick people, struggling to get through the ordeal of each and every day; with motivation, we become stress-resistant, immunised, and on top of everything.
I think the analogy of being “sick” without motivation is very pertinent, because as I said, we only tend to start noticing motivation when it’s gone, in the same way we take for granted our physical faculties and only notice the beauty of being able to run in the free air when we are incapable of doing so.
So, motivation is “quality” partly because it provides quality to our lives. In fact, we often use the phrase in the medical world: “quality of life” as a metric of how well we have recovered from a surgery, illness, or conditions resulting from old age. Yes, someone might live to one-hundred years old, but what is their quality of life like? That’s the key thing to think about. I think most of us would probably rather live to sixty and have a high quality of life right to the last moment, than live to one-hundred and have the last forty years feel like painful drudgery.
So, how does motivation improve the quality of our lives?
Firstly, when we are energised, we feel like we can face any problem. We become resilient and adaptable. Many experts and psychologists advocate that we need to focus more on changing our internal world and how we respond to negative events rather than trying to change the external world itself. It’s the mindset that determines how deeply certain setbacks or challenges affect us. This is all very well, and I heartily agree, but there is little in the way of advice on how to do this. It’s one thing to think it. But when bad things happen, we’re not really thinking: most of the time we’re in an emotional place (to put it another way, we’re in the heart not the head).
However, when we are highly motivated, and our motivators have been met – we view challenges differently. The idea of this is not to try and change your thinking when disaster strikes, but rather to steadily build up your defences before you need them. By doing things that feed your motivators, and build your energy, you are giving yourself the resources necessary to tackle challenges and find creative solutions.
The second way in which motivation improves quality of life is via relationships. One of the number one problems with any relationship, and as any Hollywood screenwriter noted for their dialogue will tell you, is communication. More often than not, we feel like we are talking at complete crossed-purposes with our colleagues at work, our managers, bosses, and even friends and family. We don’t see “eye to eye” because our values and priorities are completely different. And where do these values and priorities stem from? Our motivators. However, the beauty of the Motivational Map is it provides a shared language with which to discuss these differences in a non-judgemental way.
For example, let’s say you have a CEO and a brilliant Graphic Designer in a room. The Graphic Designer is very high Creator motivator (so they like to make new things) and very low Builder motivator (they don’t care about money). Now, with that kind of profile, this person is very likely to consider themselves an artist. They aren’t looking for profit, they’re looking to create spectacular things and be recognised for doing so. They are in a relatively good job for their motivational profile, but this isn’t always the be all and end all as we’re about to discover.
Now, let’s look at the CEO.
Let’s say the CEO is the other way around: very high Builder motivator and very low Creator. Again, a pretty good fit for the job in some ways. But, immediately, this is going to create conflicts with the GD. Every time the CEO flashes the cash (they drive into work in their super-car and expensive suit), or talks about the profitability of the business, that’s going to royally hack the Graphic Designer off. That is not “speaking their language”. Some of you might say: “Well, the CEO is paying his wages, so the Graphic Designer should just put up with it” and there’s some degree of truth in this, that one should never bite the hand that feeds. However, it’s equally true that the Graphic Designer is essential to the function of the business, and if he leaves, the company will not be able to operate until they get a new one, and even when they do, they will not know the company’s systems very well and will likely not be as creatively talented as their forbearer because – as we’ve established – our Graphic Designer considers themselves an artist and hence this is more than a job to them.
Similarly, every time the Graphic Designer starts experimenting and talking about crazy creative ideas, that is going to annoy the CEO, because he just wants the business to work like clockwork. It’s not that he’s greedy, it’s just that he has worked hard and fears losing competitive edge by getting sidetracked by all these new creative ideas that he can’t see the usefulness of. He doesn’t want to have to think about creative questions. He recognises the GD is a hard worker, but he wishes he would just be more focused.
Now, without Maps, this is a blow-up waiting to happen. Either the Graphic Designer is going to get fed up and leave, probably joining a smaller organisation that “gets” his artistic nature. Or, the CEO is going to put pressure on the GD to change, and impose rules and restrictions that eventually lead to redundancy. But with Maps, with motivation, the two can now understand where the other is coming from. Each has “access” to the language the other prefers. The Graphic Designer can say: “I spent an hour this morning on a new creative project that, down the line, could save us x amount of money.” And the CEO can say: “I know this is a bit boring, but your design for x advertisement was the most financially successful, so if you could do more of those, maybe play around with a few different interpretations, that would be brilliant. Take the morning off your other projects to do that if you like.”
Many of you reading this probably wish you could have this kind of interaction with your colleagues, bosses, and managers – but it feels like an impossible goal. It isn’t. This is an achievable reality. Maybe not overnight, but over time and with hard work. Motivation improves the quality of our relationships tenfold. Even without specifically mapping people using our tool, Motivational Maps, you can still make educated guesses as to the motivators of people in your team, and respond in kind. Why not try it at your next team meeting? Spend an evening working out what the top two motivators of each person you work with are, and then the next day act accordingly: you might be surprised as to the result.
Motivation is, of course, not as black and white and simple as in this example. As I’ve mentioned in other articles, we are not “one” motivator but a combination of nine in different orders and with different weighting that makes each profile and person unique. However, the 80 / 20 principle is certainly a key thing to bear in mind. If we focus on the 80 percent, the top few motivators that make the biggest difference, we can see drastic improvement in our energy and relationships, and therefore, our quality of life.
Thank you for tuning in!
Tune in for further entries in this blog series to discover more about motivation!
Want to discover your motivators? You can also discover them yourself, or get close to it, by doing a few simple exercises. I have created a nine-part blog series Unlocking Motivation, to help take you through this process. It’s completely free, and will tell you a hell of a lot about the Maps and what they’re all about. To get started, you can go to part 1 here.
Alternatively, for a deeper dive into the language and metrics of motivation, as well as a Motivational Map code for a pin-point accurate motivational profile, you can buy Mapping Motivation: Unlocking The Key to Employee Energy and Engagement.