CN Executive Coaching Corner

Motivation: Your Thoughts Create Your Brain – Part 2

Brain Cells

“To motivate” literally means, “to cause to move.”  Motivation is more than just moving something or someone.  It is also more than the fleeting state of an engine start up (ignition), sometimes likened to the act of inspiring someone.

When we motivate, we first activate the engine of a purposive system. People can be and have been moved (pushed) to do many things (though not always good things). Sometimes, managers do feel a need to push others to action.  But to motivate, to “be motivated” is something different entirely.

At this point, the “what” for which we wish motivate becomes less important than the “why” in the motivation equation. Managers can provide a combustible mix of fuel (resources), reason/rationale (air) and that “spark” (energy/inspiration) to ignite a motive. But to get the engine in gear, to create movement, more is required.

The highest form of motivation to a course of action reconnects the “why-motive” of a being back to that fundamental state of “I am.”  It is a dynamic link between the action(s) to be taken and the individual’s reason for existence, one’s perceived purpose for being.

The greater the correlation between any actions and their purpose, the more powerful the motivation, and the greater the duration and intensity of the resulting ‘motivated’ course of action. Thus, motivation becomes more than simply inducing or compelling some act or course of action. Our ability to skillfully motivate another is measured by our ability to help the individual achieve a clear understanding of the connection between their purpose and a given course of action. It is not necessary for the course of action to be desirable, attractive or even self-benefiting in order for an individual to understand, buy into that course and commit to it.

We cannot know with precision the way another person perceives their purpose. We can only seek to communicate with others in a way that enlivens a consciousness of their own “I am,” and then in a way that in turn generates a rich and abiding resonance with the course of action along which we seek to motivate them.

So, how do “managers” motivate workers?  Can they, really?

Eugen Rosenstock Huessy describes a certain culture-neutral state of being among diverse workers when he wrote, “The man who appears at the gates of the mill is not the whole man.  It is the man, regardless of color, race and creed, who asks to be employed by the hour because he cannot trust any mill to have permanent work for him.  He says to himself with Walt Whitman, “I am on the Open Road. I don’t believe in mansions.”  The man who works in industry is a peculiar human being because his sense for time and timing is conditioned by the dilemma of management.  The worker is a man who must never forget that a boom town may become a ghost town overnight and that his skill may be replaced by a robot in the afternoon.”  (“The Multiformity of Man,” Argo Books, 2000)

The chasm of trust in security described by Rosenstock-Huessy challenges any manager’s ability to motivate others for the long term.  Huessy also points up the issue of a failure to employ or engage what he refers to as “the whole man” for the work at hand.

The true motivator must therefore understand the difference between the terms “compel” and “impel” for the task at hand.

Any brute can compel.  Any figure of authority can use that power to create movement.   Even an inanimate paycheck (or the threat of loss thereof) can compel quite effectively — for the short term. That use external force against the inertia of disengagement is the opposite of motivation, an inefficient waste of power.

To connect a desired course of action to “the whole man,” and thereby to a human purpose (not exclusively an impersonal organizational purpose), is to impel.  This is motivation, “to cause to move,” rather than simply “to move.”

If the “I am” is the first thing, the fundamental unit of purposeful human instrumentality, might that “I am” also be the most important thing in the art of motivation?  If so, the manager as motivator will learn to first ignite and then motivate by linking a desired course of action to the “I am” in each person, then building on that foundation a CultureNeutral® case for a relevant outcome.


Copyright Robert D. Jones, 2013 – All Rights Reserved

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[1]  “Although most neurons are formed halfway through gestation there are virtually no synaptic connections – it is experience and interaction with the environment that forms the synaptic connections. Most synaptogenesis occurs through the 2nd year of life.  83% of dendritic growth (connections between synapses) occurs after birth.” (Dr. Schuetze, “Nervous System Development“)

See:  BigThink – Kurzweil on Neural Connections

Contact Us at InclusiveWorks to learn more about the framework for building that CultureNeutral® case in your organization and in your management skill set.