Have you had Ra-Ra motivation?
I’m sure you’ve experienced it, because I certainly have. You are the leader of a successful organization and have hired a motivational speaker to address your staff. Or, you’re a staff member and you’ve heard your manager, or your boss say, ‘You really need to listen to this guy, he’s great, he’s inspiring.’ And, of course, it’s usually… a boy; there are women doing it, but all the big names seem to be men, and the field is saturated with men who are motivational speakers.
And what happens? Well, you sit down, but usually not for long, and you can be positive, neutral, or even hostile when it starts, but then it starts and you notice its high energy; Plus, make three or four insightful comments that you hadn’t considered before that seem relevant to your work experience or situation; plus, he really has a great sense of humor, not so much a joker, but more of a sly version of reality that is really funny. Boy, does he touch that?
Then, before you know where you are, your energy goes up too. This is great. You are quite prepared to get up, scream, break wood, do silly things, and suddenly the work takes on a whole new dimension: anything is possible. In fact, it’s quite possible that the next thing you do is agree to walk on hot coals, go bungee jumping, or finally, best of all, complete the five peaks challenge AND raise money for charity too. And you know what? If you can do it! That’s the mantra: you can do it. You are like a hobbit Gandalf has shown that there is more to you than anyone realized before; and you know it now too. There are no limits!
At least, there are none for about two weeks. And then you’re back at work and nothing has changed, except that you have a memory of a ‘peak’ state that was too brief and fleeting, and now also becoming more and more distant. We call this Ra-Ra motivation, and you just had it. It’s good, but in the same way that sugar is good: you get a high, but it has no lasting value or nutrition. In fact, too much and you become a diabetic of personal development.
Because this Ra-Ra motivation is externally driven. It doesn’t answer the question of what is motivation, or what are my motivations, and how do I maintain my motivation over time. Nor does it often help your organization address the issue: how do we support ourselves and the work we create to motivate our people, understanding that motivation comes from within and not from without?
These are profound questions, and unless we take the time to consider them, our motivation will always be flawed, transient, and unsatisfying. Eventually, our motivation will trip us up and we will find that our performance fails, since so much of performance is intrinsically tied to our motivation.
What motivates you then? Did you know? Can you describe your motivators? And do you know what rewards feed your motivators and take you to a much more consistent and powerful state of motivation? That is the challenge beyond Ra-Ra motivation.