Choose Inspiration Over Motivation

Motivation is lighting a fire under you, while inspiration is lighting a fire within you.

Consider these insights from three great thought leaders on motivation and inspiration:

  • “Inspiration is a driving force, while motivation is a pulling force.” Ron Prasad
  • "Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and carry it through to its conclusion, and inspiration is when an idea gets hold of you and carries you where you are intended to go." Wayne Dyer
  • The richest experiences in our lives come from “doing something that matters, doing it well and doing it in the service of a cause larger than ourselves.” Daniel Pink

In the workplace, our go-to as managers and leaders is often motivation.

Keep in mind though, motivation always has a whiff of manipulation we can smell a mile away. We appreciate the cheerleaders in our life. We appreciate the scoreboard that tells us if we’re winning or losing. We appreciate our accountability partners. We appreciate the motivational speeches – you’ve got this! All of this manipulative motivation is rooted in really good intentions. These are all efforts I highly recommend to those leading teams*, and will continue to do so, because sometimes all we need is someone else to care if we succeed and witness us fighting the good fight.

The challenge with motivating teams though, is results can vary.

Side note CAUTION: *I don’t recommend incentive programs to motivate teams – the reason being the motivational intentions are often not perceived as pure and they backfire. The manipulation feels slimy. Teams may even be insulted that their work ethic isn’t trusted – offended by the perception that they have to be manipulated to care. One of my favorite insights from Daniel Pink’s work is this – by incentivizing someone to do something, you’re communicating that the task at hand is SO undesirable that you have to use coercion.

Whereas real deal inspiration goes the distance – when the fire in our bellies is lit, nothing can stop us.

We are inspired by:

  • Stories we can identify with of overcoming challenges and achieving success
  • Doable action steps we can take today
  • The vision of what’s potential and possible
  • Experiencing the positive impact of our contribution
  • Working with a team where the experience is “we’re all in this together”
  • Being invited to opportunities that resonate with who we believe we can be

Which as a leader means:

  • Share and encourage stories
  • Name bite-size steps and milestones towards progress
  • Vividly paint the vision of what you can create together
  • Describe in detail the positive impact on clients
  • Focus on team camaraderie and shared identity
  • Challenge your team with opportunities to expand their comfort zone

Continue to motivate your team, set milestones and goals to achieve. Continue to be their cheerleader, care about their success and believe in them. Just don’t forget to also inspire them.

P.S. The Culture Works Book and Workbook are both now available !!

Culture Works has been endorsed by many CEOs and thought leaders including:

  • Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and author of Delivering Happiness
  • Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage
  • Marshall Goldsmith, one of the top ten Most-Influential Business Thinkers in the World
  • Brian Tracy, author of Full Engagement

Culture Works

With Culture Works in your hands you’ll know exactly how, and what to do to manage your workplace culture.
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