You cannot motivate anyone to do anything ever. Why? Because motivation is an internal force. It stems from personal responsibility and the individual believe they can control their own destiny. Your motivation cannot be transferred to them.
You can inspire. You can teach people (and yourself) to find the motivation to get done what needs to be done to achieve their goals, objectives, and targets. However, your reasons for them to do something will never be enough.
Individuals who have an external locus of control, and don’t believe they control their own destiny, will lack the personal responsibility and internal motivation needed to succeed. By default, they will struggle to start important tasks, to finish what they've started, and will spend their lives (not) dealing with their:
These unmotivated individuals don’t believe they have the power to fix these struggles, so they have given up trying. Do you know anyone who fits that bill? You? Someone in your team? In your family?
So what can you do to fix this?
Understand that the foundation stone is an internal locus of control. The person must believe they can control their circumstances, the conditions that are holding them back, or preventing them from even starting. If not, their self-limiting belief will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In experiments where children are invited to solve problems, those who are praised for their high intelligence instead of their hard work will later pick easy tasks to avoid "failing". Children who are praised for their hard work will pick the tougher problems, tell you they enjoy them, and seek out tougher and tougher problems to work on because they enjoy the challenge and the sense of accomplishment.
By praising their hard work instead of their natural talents, you accomplish something critical without them realizing. You have turned a chore into a choice. A external circumstance into an internal responsibility.
When trying to inspire others to take on more responsibility, make a point of praising them for making decisions and taking control. Doing this helps them tie their bias for action to why they are doing it. Always focus them on tying their actions to the results, and help them eliminate excuses or external circumstances as the cause.
In the elderly, living in care homes, residents who demonstrate independent acts of defiance still feel in control of their own lives. They achieve higher levels of happiness and more engaged when they refuse to eat the scrambled egg and swap it for something they chose, or when they disassemble the furniture in their room to make the living space their own. When asked if they want help, the most cantankerous refuse and maintain their sense of independence and autonomy.
Helping others to find the motivation within themselves requires you to find a way to help them endow actions with greater meaning by helping them to find their purpose behind doing it.
We all recognize that it feels good to make a choice and make something happen. To encourage this we can reward initiative with praise, recognition and support for trying, whether they succeed or fail.
In your own experience, what happens to us when we believe our choices meaningful? Isn't self-motivation heightened when our decisions and actions are part of a bigger and more emotionally rewarding purpose?
Teach yourself or your mentee to self-engage by asking yourself and others lots of questions. This leads to self-discovery and allows us to challenge preconceptions that limit our view of what's possible, of what we can aspire to, and of our potential.
Ultimately people with purpose achieve more than people without.
Build a plan, take the necessary action, and you can bet on the outcome. Fail to plan and you are destined to be part of someone else's. You abdicate control and leave yourself at the mercy of Fate. Choose instead to live on purpose.
If you enjoyed this article, look for our upcoming book, Motivation the Sandler Way, coming out this summer!
Speaking of motivation this summer, check out this previous blog post: The Most Effective Ways to Motivate Sales Teams This Summer