Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Understanding Motive

A few years ago I was training with someone who each week I would ask to do some tasks as homework in order to perfect the exercises and therefore get him closer to his desired goal. Upon each weekly follow-up the homework was rarely if ever completed. I asked why he would not show any enthusiasm doing the required assignments let alone complete it. His response to me was “Inspire me”. At that moment I realized that I will not always inspire every person whom I train with and that being inspired is the key to lasting success. When I asked why does he continue to see me each week he replied, “To be motivated”. I asked myself; what is the difference between inspiration and motivation?

It is said that many things will not happen without being inspired foremost. If this is so, then motivating others (and ourselves) to make things happen first lies in finding out the source of inspiration. Motivation and inspiration have some things in common but there are some distinct differences with greater importance placed on the latter for its value to be more enduring over time. In simplest terms, to inspire is to be the cause of something. The archaic meaning of the word inspire is "to breathe life into." Many will say that the two words are interchangeable however it is this writer’s belief that a distinction must be drawn between the two and not just for argument’s sake. Words and what they mean can have profound affects on the way we think and ultimately the way we follow through with action. It is therefore important to understand these two words to use to our advantage to better understand our motives so that we can act accordingly.

Without inspiration, motivation loses some of its zing and I am certain we have all experienced this at sometime in our lives. I've been motivated to do many things, for example when I was 10 years old I played hockey and basketball. I was motivated to practice because I was inspired by the thought of being in the NHL or the NBA. This was my cause and my motivation was rooted by a deeper sense of inspiration by something bigger and more attractive. On a rather mundane level, I'm motivated to fix items when they break because I'm inspired to keep things in working order. In both of these cases, my motivation is renewed because I am inspired by something greater. It was my inspiration to become a professional athlete that got me to practice day after day. Practice, like the training sessions I deliver can often boring and many times frustrating when there is not a greater picture being painted. Without inspiration to fuel the motivational engine we can often have a miserable experience doing and adhering to what it is we are trying to accomplish. Referring back to the archaic meaning of the word inspire, the goal is therefore to “breathe life into” what we are doing which will give us a greater sense of purpose for doing our daily and weekly tasks and exercises.

With inspiration we are better able to adhere to what it is we are doing and this makes our actions last much longer where on the other hand, motivation can be very short lived. We use motivation to complete projects, or tasks within projects. We use motivation to give our best in a game or a performance. We use motivation to wake ourselves up early and when we wash the dishes or take out the garbage. Being motivated is less powerful than being inspired. Inspiration acts as a force behind the scenes that drives us for long-term results. The drive to be as great at something, get promoted at work, win the national championships, keep the house clean, or take our lives to new levels comes from being inspired. The little tasks in our lives to make these bigger things happen are when you are motivated but this motivation will be short-lived if inspiration does not exist first.

Creating your own future is possible if we have the right mindset. If you're looking to change your self-image, improve your relationships, lose weight, or get a new job that you will stick with then you need to get inspired first. On the heels of Monday’s blog called ‘Personal Re-invention’ reflect upon your motives and what really gets you to do what it is you do. Attempt to re-define your motivation in life by using inspiration as the energy.

Inspiration is important to see though it is not easy. Without it you end up motivating yourself (and others) to complete the small tasks without a cause or greater purpose. Becoming inspired and getting motivated are very subjective experiences, and a lot of it comes from within. If you are having trouble becoming inspired there are many tools that can help. Inspiring quotes, sayings, pictures, stories, poems and even this blog site are available to get you started. What inspires me may not inspire you and there are no set rules. So, whatever you choose, remember that what is best for you may not be for others and consider the inspiration others may have when you are motivating them on a daily basis as their leader or teacher.

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