Ever wonder why some people just always seem to be highly motivated, ambitious, and enthusiastic so much of the time? Ever wish you could be more of a self-starter? Ever get bogged down in the middle of a project, career or life? Who motivates the motivator?
People are motivated by a many and varying things. What motivates one person can actually be a discouragement for another. Personal motivation comes both internally and externally. Sources of internal motivation include variety, a sense of adventure, bonding, element of risk, stimulation of learning and growing, desire to belong, need to be loved, expectation of making a contribution or leaving a lasting legacy. Sources of external motivation include financial reward, career advancement, relationships with others, exotic cars, offshore bank accounts, jewellery, and "toys."
I recall my father telling me the story of an older man who had trouble with some of the younger kids in his neighbourhood. Every day, a group of teenagers would come by his home and throw rocks at it. The young men were not being dangerous, just a big nuisance. The old man did everything he could to stop the boys from throwing rocks at his home. He called the police, called their parents and shouted threats from his porch. Nothing he did seemed to stop their behaviour. In contrast, the young men seemed more encouraged than ever.
Finally, in desperation, the old man met with the boys and struck a deal. "I have come to enjoy having rocks thrown at my home. For that reason, I am willing to pay each of you a dollar every day that you throw rocks at my house." Although bewildered, the boys enthusiastically agreed.
As expected, the boys showed up each day at the appointed time to throw the rocks. As understood, the old man happily paid them a dollar each. This went on for a few days when the old man approached the boys and said, "I have been having some financial troubles lately and I can no longer afford to pay you each a dollar. Would you be willing to consider 50 cents?" After conferring with each other, the boys reluctantly agreed to keep throwing rocks at his house for just 50 cents each.
Another few days went by before the old man approached the boys again with some bad news. "Boys, I have really fallen on some financial hard times. I cannot afford to pay you 50 cents a day. However, I could still pay you each a dime for throwing the rocks." With only a few, quick exchanged glances at each other, one of the boys abruptly spoke, "There is no way we are going to throw rocks at your house for only a dime a piece." With that, they left.
What happened? Before, the boys were willing to throw rocks for nothing-or were they? They were doing it for something. They were "internally" motivated by the sense of adventure, variety, bonding, element of risk, and desire to belong. When they were willing to accept money for throwing rocks, their motivation slowly shifted to external sources-financial rewards. In a short time, they forgot why they ever did it to begin with. When the financial rewards were eliminated, their motivation was gone.
Are you driven by internal or external motivation? If the majority of your motivation is from external sources, you will find it hard to sustain, especially in difficult times. We need a balance between internal and eternal sources of motivation to carry us through obstacles and challenges. Who motivates the motivator? They motivate themselves because they are driven by internal and external reasons for high achievement.
Before my accident, I was looking for a way to make a living. Since my accident, I began to look for a way to make a contribution -- and I have made a significantly better living in the process.
-- written by Art Berg, Certified Speaking Professional
NOTE: On December 26, 1983, at the age of 21, Art Berg broke his neck in a serious automobile accident, leaving him a quadriplegic. Despite his condition, was a world class athlete and travelled more than 200,000 miles a year speaking to hundreds of professional and civic organizations such as IBM, 3M, Sun Microsystems, TCI Cablevision, AT&T, Excel Communications, Young Presidents Organization, Coca-Cola, GTE, Novell, KeyCorp, ERA Real Estate, and Prudential Healthcare on the topic, "The Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer."
Art died in February 2002.
Visit Art's inspirational website at: http://www.artberg.com/index.html