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“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to because THEY want to do it.”


Dwight D. Eisenhower

For centuries as a people, we have opted to use control measures such as command-and-control management (eliciting fear and resentment), motivation using carrots (incentives and rewards) as well as our approval or disapproval (developing guilt, brown-nosing and safe rather than creative action), all in a well-intentioned attempt to develop people into good citizens so they produce worthy results. It’s understandable why we do this. It’s been the status quo for a long time.

If I had a gun and you thought I’d use it on you or if I offered you thousands of dollars to do what I wanted you to do, that would likely work. Using control feels powerful and effective, especially when you are afraid and want new conditions to come about quickly. But if I did any form of control with you, I will have diminished your internal or intrinsic motivation.

The problem is most people don’t make this cause and effect connection between control and diminished personal responsibility. In fact, the more they use control, the less responsible the other person becomes, justifying even greater use of control in the mind of many leaders. This vicious cycle has gone on so long that it’s resulted in incredibly low and stuck levels of general disengagement and active disengagement (71% of the population), costing us all on every front; financially, physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. It greatly limits what we are capable of creating, solving and advancing.

The truth is we’re all motivated all the time. However, because we’ve so often been conditioned to be led through control rather than lead ourselves intrinsically, we don’t recognize or take charge of our motivation and personal power and ensure we use it wisely and fully. Until we understand that control itself is counterproductive, we will continue to choose it instead of the innovative measures available to develop people from the inside out. If I carried you around all day, everyday, you’d have weakened leg muscles. Similarly, when you use extrinsic motivators, you weaken the intrinsic motivators within your people.

What can be done?

One of the most important things you can do is to understand what conditions and practices bring out the best in your people so they are operating at full engagement. To do this, you need to lead in ways that develop people’s intrinsic motivation. You must learn how to assess whether they find their work meaningful, if they have enough responsibility and choice, (including trying something new without fear around failure), get support they need to be competent, and celebrate progress. When you learn to pay attention to intrinsic motivators and nurture them, while removing control methods, your people will respond by shifting from disengaged to fully engaged behaving.

I can’t overemphasize how worthy this is of your time and investment. Our world needs people to be fully, consciously and lovingly using personal power and responsibility to help us overcome the many challenges in our world so as to improve the quality of life, love and joy we all experience. Your people are and want to be great. Helping each to develop their intrinsic motivation so they become empowered to create great results; great customer service, sales, retention, referrals and reputation, is crucial. I’m here to help if you’re ready to get started. If so, call me today at 314.239.4727.

Why People Hire LifeWork Systems

People hire LifeWork Systems because they need and want great results and understand that you need great people to do so. We help you with systems that make people great. This article will be published in my column The Extraordinary Workplacein the St. Louis Small Business Monthly April, 2017

Judy Ryan (judy@LifeworkSystems.com), human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Her mission is “to help people create conditions in which all people love their lives.” She can be reached at 314-239-4727.