The question I am asked most during my training seminars by leaders, managers, and sales managers is “How do I motivate my people?”
As a manager and leader for many years in a very large organization leading a big team, it was the question that I asked quite often as well. Since the answers I got were very vague and really unusable from an application standpoint. I decided to study the topic myself.
For about five years I studied the topic of motivation, peak performance, willpower, inspiration, human behavior, and anything else you can think of that would have something to do with motivation.
I read all of the great studies around human motivation and human behavior. I read and studied the experts who had studied under the greats in the field of psychology and human development.
There are several books that I would consider to be some of the best on any of these topics around motivation. But honestly the best answer to this question is to study yourself.
I recently wrote an article on some of the mistakes managers make when leading other people. You can read it here
In this article I stated that managers make a mistake when they try to use tactics with their employees that they have found or use to motivate themselves. I am not contradicting what I said here. What I am saying is, what are the conditions that must exist for you to do your best work?
That is where the motivation comes from, not tactics, not words by themselves, but from conditions and the right environment.
When I think about the conditions that existed for me when I was most motivated here is what I found them to be.
I had the right attitude first and foremost. Although, I may have not known what to do or how to do it, I was willing to learn. Since I was willing to learn, it opened opportunities up that were already around me, all I had to do was take advantage of them.
I had a manager, and a manager above my manager, that allowed us and me specifically, to operate under minimal supervision and provided me the resources to experiment to see what worked. This autonomy was very motivating. I didn’t have any fear of failing and was allowed to operate how I saw best.
They provided guidance and support, which was very beneficial because nobody can do it alone. The guidance was more of a conversation around what can we do to get the best results for our department, instead of “you should do it this way or that way”.
One of the biggest failures I see in business today is the all or none mentality. We either hit a home run or we didn’t win the game. We either achieve the goal or we didn’t. I am all about results and I believe we should all meet and exceed expectations. However, there are times when a single should be celebrated just as much as a home run, to use a baseball analogy.
We as human beings need to have little victories, it is built into our DNA. These little victories are what motivate us to keep moving towards the bigger goal. And when I think about the times when I was most motivated, we were hitting a lot of singles and eventually we hit a few home runs. But those singles and doubles kept us motivated.
So what conditions existed when you were most motivated? Maybe it is now, which makes it even easier to see and make sense of it.
Lastly, I want to share this. It is a formula that I have shared with thousands of people who have attended my trainings and seminars.
Motivation usually begins because you were inspired by something. It could have been a talk you heard, a book you read, something somebody said to you. It could be a variety of different things. But that source of inspiration usually provided you some information that you didn’t have before.
So motivation is preceded by inspiration, and inspiration is preceded by information, or what I call education. The education is the true source of motivation.
It could be that you had never saw something the way someone opened your eyes up to seeing something. Your doctor could reveal to you that you have a condition that you weren’t aware of before. It could be that you learned about a diet that seems easy to do. It could be that some new information gets you to see something that you just haven’t seen before. It could be for a cause that instills anger inside you because of some hardship of others that you weren’t aware of.
In all of these cases you received some additional information/education that you didn’t have before. That is the source of motivation.
When I was most motivated on the job, I was getting new information and an education daily. That motivated me to keep trying new things. This education was the source of my motivation that pushed me to keep trying and tinkering with processes and approaches. It kept me excited and engaged in the job I was doing.
I ask you again. What was it that was so motivational about the job you had were you seemed to be most motivated? What conditions existed? My guess is your supervisor had a lot to do with it, but you were also learning every single day which kept you excited and inspired.
To your success and your future.