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March 2024

How to Avoid Over-Simplification With The Alchemy of Motivational Maps


The human brain loves shortcuts.

This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, creating neurological shorthands allows us to “automate” certain functions and therefore devote more brainpower to the big picture. On the other hand, this conceals the true nature of reality from us. How many times have you driven to work only to realise, once you arrived, that you cannot remember a single detail of what you thought about or what happened on the drive? Or, even worse, how many times have you exchanged polite pleasantries with a work colleague only to realise afterwards that you cannot remember a single pertinent detail of the exchange? We don’t do this maliciously or because we don’t care, simply because our brains are hardwired to make as many functions as easy and simple as possible for us.

Because of this, we have a tendency to over-simplify things. We reduce politics to two camps, when the reality is more nuanced. We reduce life itself to two camps: work and pleasure, when there are many shades in between. We offer up innumerable simplifications of the formula for success, happiness, or wellbeing, when anyone who has explored these topics in any depth knows that there is no simple formula.

We take complex and nuanced systems and try to boil them down to the essentials. But often, in doing this, we lose a great deal of the meaning, elegance, and perhaps most importantly the efficacy of these systems. The power often lies in the complexity.

The Motivational Maps is a self-perception inventory. Unlike personality profiling tools or skills-based tools, a Motivational Maps profile does not assign a person a single grand “archetype” that becomes emblematic of their personhood. All of us have all nine motivators, but we hold these motivators in an order of priority. In other words, most of us tend to have two or three motivators that are more dominant than the others. And most of us tend to have one or two motivators which are so low in our priority that we actively avoid them!

However, because of the human hardwiring, it’s often the case that we look at the top motivator in our profile and take that as our grand archetype. It’s much easier and simpler to do this, of course, than looking at the complex alchemy of how all our motivators might interrelate.

But we must do our best to avoid this at all costs. As I said in my introduction, using these intellectual “shorthands” denies us the pleasure and fullness of reality. If we truly want to understand ourselves, and understand our motivations, then we have to fully embrace the complexity even though it is harder.

In the words of Theodore Roosevelt:

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

So, with Motivational Maps, we take the harder path. But the reward—an enviable life—is worth it!

If you would like to know more about Motivational Maps then contact one of our licensed Motivational Maps Practitioners - you can find some of them HERE.