The Mystery of Personal Motivation and Its Influence on Success
Wonder why some people seem fueled by passion while others struggle to find motivation?
Discover how motivation is a deeply personal concept, one that's intimately tied to our life stories and individual circumstances. We reveal the story of a young sales leader who grapples with motivating a seasoned sales veteran, only to uncover a surprising, personal reason behind his motivation. We challenge the common notion that money alone motivates all salespeople, offering a fresh perspective on the many complexities of individual motivation.
We also explore the guiding principle at Progress Coaching: understanding what truly motivates someone before attempting to motivate them. We illustrate this with a hypothetical scenario involving a future leader, showing how understanding motivation helps her become a better leader and can address interpersonal conflicts and facilitate positive change. Think critically about what truly motivates you and those around you, potentially unveiling surprising breakthroughs and renewed energy.
Motivation is one of those topics that has moving criteria. There are two high-level imperatives when it comes to motivation. We have to motivate the person to do the job, and then we also have to motivate the person doing the job. They're two different things. Here's an example.
Years ago, I was coaching a young sales leader who was struggling to coach one of his top performers in sales. The manager really wanted to become a great sales leader. He said to me, "This person's not performing. They have a long history with the company. I'm younger and kind of in this weird spot. How do I coach them?"
My first question was very simple: what motivates them?
His response was not atypical: money. Yet he said it with a tone of assumption. So, I asked if he knew for sure if it was money, or if he was assuming. He replied, "Well, I think every sales rep is motivated by money."
Maybe not. I disagree with that statement, by the way.
So, I sat down with the gentleman who was more in my demographic, in the 50s. The sales leader was in his early 30s, so there was a little awkward dynamic there. When I sat down with the guy, we just started talking, and he shared that he had two kids in college. He wanted to give them what he never had growing up, which was a college education without debt. My parents couldn't help me with college either, so we're connecting on a personal level. I offered some good news and bad news. Good news: I'd just finished paying off my kid's college. They have no debt, so I'd accomplished what he was seeking to do. The bad news: it gets worse. He laughed.
I then asked him why he didn't go into sales management. He replied that it just wasn't for him. He didn't want to be responsible for others; he'd always been responsible for himself. I mentioned he'd brought up his boys a lot. Then he shared with me, "Sadly, I lost my wife a few years ago. That's my main thing. When I'm not working, I'm with my boys."
I sat there and said, "Well, let's talk about business for a second. You're having kind of a challenging year." He agreed, but he was willing to do whatever it takes. So, this whole conversation wasn't ego or attitude. I asked him, when he gets stressed and he's not hitting his numbers, what does he do? He replied that he didn't know how to answer that question. So I rephrased: "What do you do to re-engineer yourself, re-motivate yourself, re-inspire yourself? Reframe what to do differently?" He sat back for a minute and said that was a great question, and he hadn't given that much thought. But he does get stressed when not hitting his numbers.
I then asked him to try something. "If you were to go watch your kids play a game versus making a sales call, which would you do?"
He replied, "Go to the game; it's not even a question."
His motivation wasn't money. His motivation was his three boys. Yes, there was a money element, but that motivation became a much deeper understanding to him.
Then I noticed in his cubicle that he didn't have any pictures of his kids. When I asked him why he didn't have any photos there, he said he'd never thought about that.
"Interesting," I replied. "Will you try something weird? You know we're two old guys..." and using the demographic to my advantage would help here. "When you get stressed, I want you to look at the pictures of your boys, and I want you to schedule time to think about your kids. It's weird to ask, but every once in a while, just mark off that time in your schedule. Then think about their college plans, and I want you to write "529 Plan" up on your whiteboard there."
Ninety days later, the young manager called me and asked me what I'd said to the guy. The man was now like a different person. I said simply he just had to rediscover his motivation.
Motivation isn't just motivating someone to do the job. Our rule here at Progress Coaching is never, ever motivate until you first understand what motivates someone, then you can bring it into the conversation.
Let's say we have two people who aren't working well together, and one of them wants to become a future leader. I typically start that conversation with, "Jill, I know you're challenged by working with John. What if you were to win John over? What if you were to have a better working relationship with him? How might that serve you well as a future leader if he potentially became one of your employees?"
Bring in the understanding of the motivator into conversations, which magically creates something that most people avoid: the emotional reaction to change. Change can now become positive, not negative.
Questions to Ask to Determine Motivation:
What do you currently love about your job?
What would you love to be doing more of that you're currently not doing enough of?
If you had to describe your ideal state of where you want to end up, no matter the timeframe, what would that be and why?
What is the one thing you want to achieve in the next 12-15 months?
When it comes to motivation, what is the one thing that typically energizes you when you're working?
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