As you very well know, we are all coded differently – giving us the variety of personalities and unique talents we get to experience today. We can thank this unique coding for everything from mom’s home cooking, to art by Picasso and music by Mozart. Yet we can still peek into our psychological and physiological similarities to help determine what motivates us, even the prodigious talents of the world. Knowing what motivates us is a critical factor for everything from managing employees at work, children at home or getting your spouse to take you on an exotic vacation. Now there’s been a lot of scholarly work around this, by great minds and academics, such as Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi, the psychologist who recognized the concept of Flow. Mihaly explains Flow as the state where one is so completely absorbed and immersed in what you are doing that you achieve a state of intrinsic motivation. I’ll explain more about intrinsic motivation in just a bit…
Flow gives you your mojo – that feeling like you’re so immersed in your work you get into a zone, you’re energized about it and you enjoy the activity. It was eye opening for me to learn about all of this, so that I could see where I personally landed. Knowing about what motivates you, empowers you so that you can make a conscious decision to determine where you are on your motivational scale and continue to do things and turn toward the type of motivation keeps you in Flow.
Step 1: Deficiency Motivated or Self-Actualized?
We are a product of our environment and our environment has done some societal coding of its own, right into our cerebral vortex. This programming can steer us in directions that take us out of Flow, and motivate us in different ways. Once you become more aware of your current state of programming you can decide to take a position, do you want to keep your current code or do you want to recode? Personally, I am always ready for an upgrade.
This is where the foundational theory provided in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs speaks to our coding. Some of us are coded to be either Deficiency Motivated or Self-Actualized. Ideally once we are physiologically secure (food, water, warmth), safe, in a state of belonging, with high esteem, then we will move into self-actualization, which is where we seek to achieve our full potential, be creative, etc. Dr. Wayne Dyer uses a great example to simplify this. He says, you don’t have to be sick to get better. Some people, only seek to get better when there is something wrong – hence, deficiency motivated. While some of us don’t have to be sick to get better, we are always looking for ways to grow and evolve, be creative and make a lasting impact while here on this earth.
Now ask yourself, do you feel you are deficient and work towards filling gaps, getting bigger and better toys, seeking acceptance from others? These are indicators of someone that is Deficiency Motivated.
…Or are you self-actualized – seeking growth and inspiration simply because you want to achieve your full potential?
Step 2: Are you Type I or Type E?
As I try to find the best code for my thinking patterns, I took some insight from a book by Daniel H. Pink, called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motives Us. He talks about Motivation 2.0, where he shed significant light on the Corporate America I came up in. He calls it “Carrots and Sticks,” where if you do good work, you’ll get rewarded with pay and bonuses (the proverbial carrot) and you know what the sticks are; Didn’t reach your objectives? No rewards, bad performance review, probation periods at work, micromanagement tactics, the list goes on and on. The findings from his book, and the work of other researchers on motivation, show that there can be a way to build upon Flow and create a better way to motivate.
Pink proposes that we are all either Intrinsically or Extrinsically motivated. He calls this Type I or Type E. He says if you are type I, “your way of thinking and an approach to life is built around intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, motivators. It is powered by our innate need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.” That sounds good to me! On the other hand, those that are Type E are motivated by external forces such as money or praise. We all know someone that is either Type I or Type E. I was type E for good portion of my adult life. Oprah Winfrey – Type I, Donald Trump – Type E.
His book goes into greater detail about shifts in our society and those corporations taking the leap and moving into a new era of Motivation 3.0, based on the premise that people want to be autonomous, we want to make a difference and we like to create new things. There have been some amazing technological developments because of people involved in projects based on Motivation 3.0’s premise. Innovations that impact all of us daily. Such as 3M’s Post-It Note, Open Source Software, like Apache HTTP Server, osCommerce and internet browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Chromium and the list goes on.
The people that work on these projects, and other projects that come from a place motivated by creativity and autonomy, were given the opportunity to do so and they went with it. Yet, sometimes you can see where this can get blurry. Like when you need (or want) money over autonomy.
Take his free (no email address required) assessment to find out whether you are Type I or Type E: click here
Know what you Stand For
Growing up, I remember hearing repeatedly, “Know what you stand for, or you will fall for anything.” When people talk about “being authentic,” and “speaking your truth,” and all these other catch phrases, knowing what motivates you is a way to start moving in that direction. Do you want to be intrinsically motivated? Do you want to recognize and maximize your Flow? And if you have kids, you can help them identify their flow, once you’ve found it for yourself. Use these tools to steer your life in the direction you want it to go. It’s helped me tremendously!!