Motivation is an important driving force in people’s lives. It can affect both minor and major aspects of your life. Oftentimes, one’s level of motivation—or lack thereof—can determine their level of success.
In psychology, motivation is defined as the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behavior. It is the driving force behind what we do and the key ingredient to accomplishing goals. Research indicates that motivation has many definitions, but the two primary types of motivation are extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation is doing an activity to attain an outcome, usually a reward of some kind. Examples of extrinsic motivation include earning money, achieving fame or recognition, and gaining power. On the other hand, intrinsic motivation is “an internal drive for success or sense of purpose.” This type of motivation comes from within and is focused on personal growth, self-improvement, and achieving personal goals.
While extrinsic motivation can be a powerful driving force, research suggests that the more effective of the two—the motivation that leads to the best results—is intrinsic. Intrinsic motivation leads to better persistence, engagement, learning, performance, and retention. So, why is motivation so powerful?
1. It leads to better persistence
Persistent people beat obstacles and failure along the way. They develop a strong Failure Quotient (FQ), and they know that losing is a part—and sometimes a big part—of an athletic season. According to Stan Kellner in his book Taking it to the Limit with Basketball-Cybernetics: A Revolutionary Mind-Training Program for Winning Performance, those who succeed in developing a strong FQ approach losing in two ways: learn from it or move on. Moving on may be the tougher of the two to accomplish, but it is essential for future success.
2. It enhances engagement
Intrinsically motivated people are more likely to be highly engaged and involved in their work. They display a greater readiness to step up and take responsibility. In athletics, the greats are motivated to work on their own. They invest time for practice and constantly work on their craft.
3. Intrinsically motivated learning is more effective
Hinton Zigler presented the power of learning incredibly when he wrote, “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.” Motivated individuals strive for perfection in any task they take on.
4. We perform better when intrinsically motivated
When we are intrinsically motivated, we strive for perfection in any task we take on. Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, stressed the efficacy of perfection when he wrote, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
5. Intrinsically motivated people are more likely to stay
Motivated people stay through the tough times, but non-motivated people leave when times get tough. When a new coach is hired to take over a program, they are often hired because the program has fallen on bad times—they are losing. There is a real possibility that it will take three to five years to turn the program around, and that is why new coaches are often given five-year contracts. Given this reality, the coach must recruit or draft talented players. However, that is not enough—they bring in players of character because they stick with you through the tough times.
The psychology of motivation gives us insights into the kind of mindset needed to excel in life. Those who pursue perfection lead to excellence are the most powerful and productive people in any organization. They don’t need extrinsic motivation because they are driven internally—it’s in their DNA.
Here are six psychological motives that drive people:
1. Money and rewards
Some people are driven to make as much money as they can, so they can flaunt their wealth in their community. Others see money as a necessity to take care of their families.
2. Desire to be the best
The key to being the best stems from a willingness to prepare. Michael Jordan and Tom Brady are prime examples of the 5P’s—”Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.”
3. Helping others
Albert Einstein said it best when he wrote, “I can think of no reason why we are here but to help others.”
4. Power and fame
A great number of people who attain fame do not pursue it. They simply work hard, attain fame and remain humble.
Take it with a grain of salt. It can vanish quickly and permanently!
Rudy Ruettiger from the movie, “Rudy” is a great example of someone who was so passionate about his dream that he was able to overcome the odds and succeed.
In conclusion, motivation is an integral part of our lives. It can determine our level of success in both minor and major aspects of life. Understanding the psychology of motivation and the motives that drive people can be beneficial in cultivating an intrinsic drive to succeed. Motivation is a powerful driving force that can lead to better persistence, engagement, learning, performance, and retention. So, take time to cultivate you’re your motivations, and it may lead to success beyond what you ever imagined.