Motivation Vs Inspiration

21 February 2010

Most of us will agree that at various stages of our lives we feel we need to be more motivated. We think that if we just had more motivation, discipline or focus then we could get all these “things” we need to get done. We believe all we need to be successful is more motivation. This begs an interesting line of thinking, are there any of us that don’t want to be successful? I mean, do any of us wake up in the morning and think “gee, I would love to be a failure today!” So if we can agree that none of us wake up wanting to be a failure we can fairly and safely assume that our goal or desire is to be successful and succeed. Now what “success” means to each of us differs, and is unique. For the fisherman, success is quite different to the stockbroker or the violin teacher. But nonetheless we still go about our day with the underlying goal of working or trying to get things done in order to be successful. If we want and desire to be successful why would we need to be motivated to get off our backside and actually get out there and take some action towards achieving it? The answers lay with what is called our Values. What are Values? Values are simply an emotional state we aspire to feel most of the time. These are feelings or emotions that we physically experience i.e. the feeling of excitement or the feeling or security. Each individual has an emotional state that is more important or more VALUE-able than another. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ value or emotion to aspire to it is simply what is most important to you. Furthermore our values determine our behavior. We make 100% of our decisions and take (or not take) action according to our Values. We make decisions and act based on what we believe will best fulfill our Values. The example below illustrates the point: Mary values excitement very highly, almost as her number one Value in life. Sarah on the other hand highly values security and feels it is of the utmost importance to her. They have been given a choice between two activities, 1. Go sky-diving or 2). Go to a seminar on “How to make your home more secure from burglars”. Now what choice Mary and Sarah will make about the activity they will do for the day? It’s pretty obvious isn’t it? Mary will go for the sky-diving and Sarah will opt for the seminar. If you were to ask them why they made their respective choices, Mary would likely respond “Sky-diving is exciting and such a rush, it’s so thrilling!” Sarah would likely answer something to the effect of, “The seminar will be informative, interesting and useful.” If you asked Mary why she didn’t to the seminar very likely she would say “because it would be boring!!” Sarah would comment about not going sky-diving “Don’t be ridiculous, sky-diving is dangerous are you insane I could be seriously injured or die!” Two people, two situations, and two responses that are vastly different based upon their own Value Systems. This is how powerful our Values are at shaping the decisions we make and the lives we lead. So where does motivation fit in? We only ever need motivation when are trying to get ourselves to make a decision or take some form of action that is not in line with our highest Values. Mary will need little if any motivation to go sky diving because it is such an emotionally fulfilling activity for her. With excitement as one of her highest values, it’s very likely a day spent skydiving; white water rafting and rock climbing would be her idea of heaven. Likewise Sarah would hardly need motivation or have to “will” herself to go to the seminar. It’s a natural, easy and obvious choice for her. Now if we reversed the two, switching their activities, then all of a sudden Mary would need motivation, she would need to somehow discipline herself, be pushed or be forced into going to the seminar. Mary would need to convince herself to go. The same with Sarah, she would have to convince herself and get some motivation in order to go sky-diving. So when Mary and Sarah are taking an action that they do not Value they need motivation, they need will power and they need discipline. When they are taking an action that is aligned with their highest values, they are pulled, drawn to and are INSPIRED to do it. When we have the opportunity to take action that is aligned with our highest Values we become INSPIRED. When we are faced with the opportunity to take action that is not aligned with our highest values then we need MOTIVATION to do it. Let’s take Health as an example, seems fitting with all those New Year’s resolutions. Two people have decided at 12midnight January 1, 2010 that they were going to become fit and healthy. Now as most people who make this resolution do, they joined a gym or came to Vital Chi! If we were to watch them over the next 3 months I guarantee just by looking and observing them we could pick which one is INSPIRED to be fit and healthy and which one is MOTIVATED. Furthermore in a year or 2 or 5 years time we could very easily tell which one was INSPIRED and which was MOTIVATED, the one still at the gym still eating healthy foods was inspired one and the one who long since quit and is on the couch eating takeaway is the one who was just motivated. So are you getting the picture? Maybe it’s all too hard because being fit and healthy, for example, isn’t aligned with your highest values.

“But I want to be fit and healthy, so what now?”

You have two choices: 1. Change your goals to match your values or, 2. Shift your values to match your goals Focus on becoming INSPIRED to take action to achieve your goals. If you do this you will have an insatiable drive to get out there and do all you can to achieve it. You won’t need motivation or someone telling you what to do, you will have all the drive, discipline and reliability coming from within and best of all, you will love doing it!