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Honestly, Do You Believe You Can Design a Great Team?: Model #4 Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Mental Thought Models #4 Intrinsic Motivation vs. Extrinsic Motivation:

Motivation – Belief in my ability to choose what inspires me.

Motivation is the driving force behind our actions and behaviors. It is the reason why we do what we do. However, motivation can come from two different sources: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within, driven by internal factors such as personal values, interests, and convictions. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is driven by external factors, such as rewards and recognition also known as “sticks and carrots”, coined by author Daniel Pink.

While both types of motivation can lead to success and achievement, research has shown that intrinsic motivation is much more powerful and sustainable than extrinsic motivation. We will explore the dangers of relying too heavily on extrinsic motivation and the benefits of developing intrinsic motivation.

In his book, "Drive," Daniel Pink challenges the traditional understanding of motivation by presenting a compelling argument that sticks and carrots are not the most effective way to motivate people. Pink suggests that there is a third and more potent drive that is the key to unleashing the motivation of people, which he calls "the motivation of inspiration." This is what I will refer to as “intrinsic motivation”, and the “sticks and carrots” model I will refer to as “extrinsic motivation”.

Extrinsic Model of Motivation: Sticks and Carrots

The traditional model of motivation is based on the idea that people are driven by two basic forces: sticks and carrots. Sticks have negative consequences that are used to punish or redirect people for not performing well, while carrots are positive incentives that are used to incentivize and reward people for doing a good job. This model assumes that people are inherently lazy and need to be motivated by external forces. We are truly lazy by nature at birth and require extrinsic motivation to guide us in our early development.

While the sticks and carrots model can be effective and is necessary in many situations, it has some serious drawbacks. One of the main problems with this model is that it creates an expectation where people are only motivated by the promise of a reward or the threat of punishment. This can lead to short-term thinking and a lack of creativity, as people are focused only on achieving the goal, rather than the process of achieving it.

The Motivation of Inspiration:

According to Pink, there is a third and more powerful drive that motivates people, which he calls "the motivation of inspiration." The motivation of inspiration is based on the idea that people are motivated by a sense of purpose and the desire to make a difference. This drive is intrinsic, meaning that it comes from within the individual, rather than from external forces.

Prolonged reliance on extrinsic influence can delay personal responsibility. Personal responsibility comes when the training wheels (extrinsic) come off and it’s time to fly solo (intrinsic). This is the stage we move from dependence to independence. Intrinsic motivation is both a cause and effect of self-assuredness and confidence. It creates a growth cycle that can build upon itself generating momentum like a flywheel that drives us forward in our growth. When developed it can be the source of energy that drives your life with great purpose and conviction.

Pink argues that the motivation of inspiration is the key to unlocking the potential of people, and that it is the most effective way to motivate people in the long term. When people are inspired, they are more likely to be creative, to take risks, and to be committed to their goals. This is because they are driven by a sense of purpose and a desire to make a difference, rather than by the promise of a reward or the threat of punishment.

The Dangers of Extrinsic Motivation:

Extrinsic motivation, which is driven by external factors, has been the predominant form of motivation in our society. We are constantly bombarded with messages that we need to succeed, make money, and achieve recognition from others. As a result, many of us have become accustomed to relying on external rewards and recognition to motivate us.

While extrinsic motivation can provide a short-term boost in productivity, it can also have some serious drawbacks. Here are some of the dangers of relying too heavily on extrinsic motivation:

Depending too much on motivation from outside sources has big problems, even though it can make you more productive in the short run. One worry is that people who are only motivated by outside benefits might not be as creative and innovative. Focusing only on immediate jobs can make people lose sight of the bigger picture, which can make it harder for them to solve difficult problems and come up with new ideas.

Also, people who are driven by external benefits may not be as satisfied with their work as people who are driven by intrinsic factors. Because external rewards are often short-lived, they don't give people a long-term sense of meaning or fulfillment, which makes them less satisfied with their jobs overall.

When people depend on outside inspiration, they feel pressured to meet performance standards, which can lead to more stress. They may be more stressed than usual, which can hurt their health and general well-being. Extrinsic motivation also makes people focus on the short term, as they are driven to reach a certain goal or receive a prize. But once this goal is reached, they may not be as motivated to keep going.

In addition, people who are driven by outward rewards may feel less free than people who are driven by internal factors. People who feel like they are working for someone else instead of themselves can lose their sense of personal autonomy and independence at work.

The Power of Intrinsic Motivation:

Intrinsic motivation is the desire to engage in an activity for its own sake, rather than for external rewards or pressure. People who are intrinsically motivated are driven by their own interests and passions, and they find joy and fulfillment in the process of pursuing their goals. When we approach our goals with intrinsic motivation, we are more likely to stay committed and focused, even when faced with setbacks or obstacles. This motivation allows us to enjoy the process of pursuing our goals and feel a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction not only when we achieve them, but especially in the pursuit of them.

Personal growth in intrinsic drive has many advantages that make different parts of a person's work life better. The increase in creativity and new ideas that happens when people find inspiration from within is a big plus. People who are intrinsically motivated can see the bigger picture, which helps them come up with new ideas and creative solutions.

Even more, intrinsic motivation makes people happier at work. This is shown by study that shows people who are motivated by internal factors are happier than those who are motivated by external rewards. The internal drive gives you a long-lasting sense of purpose and satisfaction that rewards from the outside world don't always provide.

People who are driven by internal rewards also have lower stress levels than people who are motivated by external rewards. To do their work more efficiently and with less stress, they can focus on the intrinsic value of the job at hand instead of external rewards.

People who are intrinsically motivated also think about the long term, which keeps them from being easily swayed by short-term goals or benefits. People who are internally motivated are driven by the task of making lasting progress, which makes them dedicated to their work for a long time.

Intrinsic drive gives you a sense of more freedom. When people are driven by internal forces, they feel connected to their work and see it as helpful for both them and others. This is different from how external rewards might make you feel like you're only working for someone else's gain.

How to Develop Intrinsic Motivation:

When we are intrinsically motivated, we are inspired by a greater vision of what could be and should be. There may be a service to provide or a problem to solve that will lead to a better future for us, or others. It is the internal drive that propels us to pursue a goal or task because it is inherently rewarding or fulfilling. It is driven by a deep sense of purpose, vision, mission, and goals that are internally generated and inspired by a sense of justice or a desire to right a wrong.

Having a clear purpose, vision, mission, and goals is crucial for intrinsic motivation. They provide the direction and focus needed to pursue our passions and achieve our desired outcomes. A strong purpose gives us a reason to get up in the morning and provides the motivation we need to face challenges and overcome obstacles. A clear vision of what we want to achieve helps us stay on track and guides our decision-making. A well-defined mission statement gives us a sense of direction and purpose, and clearly articulates our goals and objectives. By harnessing the power of purpose, vision, mission, and goals, we can cultivate a deep sense of intrinsic motivation that drives us to succeed and make a positive difference in the world.

Developing intrinsic motivation takes time and effort, but it is well worth it. Here are some tips for developing intrinsic motivation:

1. Figure out your gifts:

Finding your own gifts is the first thing you need to do to create intrinsic motivation. You should think about what you really enjoy doing, what you're good at naturally, and what makes you feel good. It could be a passion, a skill, or an action that really gets you excited. Once you know what your gift is, use it as much as possible in your daily life and work on improving it.

2. Set Goals That Matter:

Goals that are in line with your values and interests can help you be more motivated on your own. When you make goals, make sure they mean something and are easy to understand. This will keep you inspired and on track to reach your goals.

3.Focus on Progress:

Don't worry about benefits from outside sources; instead, focus on your own progress. Focus on getting better at what you do instead of trying to get praise or awards from other people. As you see yourself making progress and growing as a person, this will help you build your own drive.

4.Give Your Work a Purpose:

Giving your work a purpose is an important part of becoming self-motivated. Find the important parts of your job and pay attention to them. This could mean getting better at something, helping other people, or even just making the world a better place.

5. Make a Positive Environment:

Another way to boost your intrinsic drive is to make a positive environment. Find people who share your interests and morals and spend time with them. Look for chances to work with people who share your hobbies or take part in activities that are related to what you're interested in.

Remember, the key to sustained motivation is to find what drives you from within, rather than relying on external factors that can often leave you feeling unfulfilled and burned out.

Combining the Four Components:

When we combine the four components; a growth mindset, an abundant mentality, an internal locus of control, and intrinsic motivation, we create a powerful mindset that can help us achieve our personal goals and benchmarks. Let's take a closer look at how these components work together.

A growth mindset allows us to see challenges as opportunities for growth and learn from our mistakes. An abundant mentality allows us to see opportunities everywhere and collaborate with others to achieve our goals. An internal locus of control allows us to take ownership of our actions and be proactive in pursuing our objectives. And intrinsic motivation allows us to stay committed and focused on our goals, even when faced with setbacks or obstacles.

When we combine these components, we create a mindset that is focused on growth, collaboration, ownership, and fulfillment. This allows us to approach our goals with a positive attitude, stay motivated and committed, and ultimately achieve our objectives.

Joel Smith

Business Coach, Author and Entrepreneur

This article is a section out of the book Team Design: Building Great Teams By Attracting the Right People. Download the Free PDF version.

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