My team and I have been working on a new motivation program that shows leaders how to foster an environment in which employees experience high quality, or optimal, motivation—as opposed to suboptimal motivation based on stress, relentless pressure, aggressive competition, harsh deadlines, and fear.
The program explains the link between three basic psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence and what we call Motivational Outlooks—the actual motivational experience someone develops around a particular task, goal, or situation. And it teaches people how to shift from suboptimal motivation to optimal motivation anytime they want.
And that’s what I need right now.
As I write this, it is the end of a very long Sunday—a day, some say, for rest. But I worked fifteen hours today after working six yesterday. It is now 12:53 a.m. on Monday morning. I have hardly eaten. I missed phone calls from my dad and from my friends Emily, Alison, and Anthony. I have a meeting 90 miles from home tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m., which means being up at 5:30. I am exhausted.
Low Quality Motivation
The aggravation I feel is akin to one of the six Motivational Outlooks—the Imposed Motivational Outlook. It is a feeling of resentment that the deadline is so tight, that I feel as if we are in a fire drill, and that it is seen as unreasonable to ask for a weekend free of work and have that reasonable request honored. The Imposed Motivational Outlook tonight comes with a sound track. It plays Noooobody knoooows the troubles I’ve seen…
High Quality Motivation
But, I also feel exhilaration knowing this program is onto something big and important. We are not only tapping a vein—we are shaping the conversation about how motivation in the workplace could be experienced and how the conversation among leaders in HR and business ought to operationalize motivation in everyday programs, systems, and conversations. This is the Integrated Motivational Outlook because all of this vast work is linked to my deepest values and sense that we are making a real difference.
I’m thinking about how my sense of relatedness has been both undermined and supported today. I have felt pressured to get this work done, but I also have felt free to do it using my personal flair and creativity. My sense of competence is soaring because something that used to seem daunting now just seems like any other big project that takes a lot of time, focus, and skill—a project that pretty much anyone could master given the right skill, mindset—or Motivational Outlook—and environment.
Now at nearly 1:00 a.m., writing, expressing, and sharing requires a great deal of self-regulation—to remain focused, to remain sanguine, and to remain awake!
Shift if You Want To
Through it all, I have an incredible tool to help me monitor and manage my Motivational Outlook—and shift it if I want to. Which experience will win this very late night? With what perspective will I color this very long day? Will it be aggravation and exhaustion, or exhilaration from the knowledge that I, as well as the program, have taken strides today toward a higher level of performance and contribution? Will I choose Imposed or Integrated around the time requirements, values, and purpose of this work?
With the last flickers of my synapses, with the final shallow breaths of my groggy self, with the last blinks of my bloodshot and bleary eyes, on the roller coaster of well-being, I choose Integrated and I think to myself, “Physician—heal thyself!”
About the author:
The Motivation Guy (also known as Dr. David Facer) is one of the principal authors—together with Susan Fowler and Drea Zigarmi—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ new Optimal Motivation process and workshop.