Posted by Kelli Joan Bennett
Day 25. I wake up obsessed with the question: Is motivation transmittable? Literally. Can we give it to each other? It distracts me in the middle of my editing. I stop to ponder it way too many times. Can motivation be picked up like radio waves from one signal to another? From one person to the next? The obvious answer is yes, of course, it can. How else would the Wayne Dyers, Steven R. Coveys, Marianne Williamsons and Zig Ziglars of the world be so popular and so wealthy? They inspire and motivate us, directly or indirectly, with their motivational ideologies, seminars, speeches, and books. Am I the only one who has ever gotten sucked into buying Tony Robbins’ 75 million-cassette tape set at 2am? I don’t think so. The man gave awesome infomercial. Never listened to one word of it. Nor did I listen to one word of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad audio package I bought in the wee hours of the morning either (Amazon never sleeps). I pawned it off on a friend who, I believe, finally gave it away at a garage sale. But still, I love the motivational gurus. It’s a challenge to stay motivated. I can use all the help I can get. And that fact brings me back to my original question…Can motivation be transmitted between regular folk like you and me?
One of my favorite books on motivation is Daniel H. Pink’s book Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. In it he delves into the often-ignored science of motivation and it’s pretty revelatory. In a nutshell, he convincingly makes the case that work that requires even rudimentary cognitive skills suffers under the if/then, carrot/stick, reward/punishment systems. If your work is based solely on mechanical skills, where the focus is very narrow and there’s a specific set of steps to a predictable outcome, it’s all about what you’re going to get when you’re done—show me the money, honey. He examines extrinsic motivation (rewards/punishments) versus intrinsic motivation (a drive to do things because they matter to you). In his Ted talk from 2009 he sums up what he calls the three elements of true motivation:
1. Autonomy – the urge to direct our own lives.
2. Mastery – the desire to get better and better at something that matters.
3. Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in service of something larger than ourselves.
I love his approach and his analysis. It makes sense to me and I feel like I can translate it easily into actual action and productivity. Plus, it’s empowering to realize that I can create and be fulfilled whether anyone pays me for it or ever gives a shit about it or not. But, motivation can be so elusive. When I finish a book, I usually write the date and a little note on the inside cover. In Drive I wrote: 12-8-10 –Great book! But I’m still not motivated. Which reminds me I’m off on a side street of motivation, not the main highway I want to go down. I’m highly motivated right now as I think outside the box inside the box and create from what I have. I don’t want to over think it, analyze it or the science of it, I just want to spread it. Like herpes or swine flu, I want it to catch on like wild fire! I want everyone to contract some motivation and create something from it.
It motivates me to hear about or see what other people are creating, so please, get busy on that creation of yours and infect me with some motivation right back! Tell me, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO CREATE? Anyone who creates something, who succeeds at what they set out to do, shows me I can do what I set out to do, too. This is the kind of motivation I’m talking about. Let’s skip the competing and the comparing and jump right ahead to helping ourselves and each other to get motivated to create. And let’s stay motivated from all the creating! By simply creating something, anything, you’re not only motivating yourself but you’re motivating me at the same time. How about that? We’re transmitting motivation back and forth for free just by the act of creating. Create—motivate—witness creation—be motivated—create some more. That’s what I’m talkin’ bout. Free, transmittable motivation! Come on, get some.
Until tomorrow, create from what you have…free, transmittable motivation.