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Motivation and inspiration

Coaches Maurice Tomkinson and Tianne Croshaw discuss what being motivated means to them, and share some experiences of overcoming feelings of demotivation. 

The question of what motivates people is always not straightforward: we are all motivated by different things, and so having an understanding of the individual you are trying to motivate is key. As further reading, you might also find the article on using the 6 Human Psychological Needs to motivate and inspire in this newsletter useful.

1. What does being motivated mean to you? 
Maurice Tomkinson (MT): I’ve been told that I am scary when I am motivated!  Once I get the bit between my teeth about something, I feel that I am able to push on and overcome obstacles.  When I am motivated, I can often ignore other tasks which might not be directly related to the end result I am aiming for, which lets me focus energy on the goal in mind.  
Tianne Croshaw (TC):  Having an absolutely clear and specific goal which I am fully committed to and when I think of it I am energised and excited which drives me towards action.

2. Who or what has inspired you most in life? 
MT:  There isn’t one single person – I tend to take bits of inspiration from different people.  However, I do remember one particular Irish guy I worked with during a summer job on a building site a long time ago.  He gave me some advice after observing the way I which I worked.  He said I was trying too hard, and stressed the importance of working gracefully.   From this I learned to take time to do a job well, and found his advice has been both helpful and inspirational to me. 
TC: I agree with Maurice’s answer completely. I am particularly inspired by those people who achieve what they have set out to do against all odds by refusing to give up on themselves and their dream. Doing the things they need rather than want to do, that ordinary people aren’t prepared to do. This is quite simply what turns an ordinary person into an ‘extra-ordinary’ one.

3. What public figures do you view as inspirational? 
MT: For me that would be Oskar Schindler.  What I like about his story is that he wasn’t initially setting out to be a good man: it was the situation that changed him.  As a result, he ultimately he turned into someone who was benevolent.  I admire that he had the courage to know what he wanted, and that he showed no fear in going about rescuing people.  The qualities I would aspire to are that he wasn’t intimidated by those who were more powerful, that he didn’t give in, and that he didn’t take No for an answer. 
TC: Nelson Mandella because he managed to change his mind set going on to achieve extraordinary things for his nation and the end of apartheid. For the first 10 years of his captivity he was full of anger and helplessness. ‘I’ll never get out of here’ was his daily mantra.  One day after those first 10 years he changed his mantra to ‘What if I could get out of here?’ which in turn became ‘How could I get out of here?’ 
As he considered this ending of apartheid he asked himself ‘Who would lead his country?’Then -  ‘What if I could lead?’ He spent the next 17 years cultivating his new way of thinking asking himself ‘What do I need to be to rule the country?’ When he was freed from captivity after a total of 27 years there was not an ounce of malice in him.

4. Have you ever felt demotivated within a team environment and what did you do to overcome it? 
MT:  I was employed by an organisation who were responsible for producing a piece of equipment which would be used for research into a cancer drug.  The solution provided was, in a word, useless – no checks had been made to ensure it worked before it was sent to the customer.  My role in this was to sort the situation out once it was identified that there was an issue.  I felt completely demotivated by this and did not want to work for a company that could let such a poor product go out to a customer without checking the quality.  I felt that I could do better, and it was at this point that I decided to set up my own business.  
TC: It is very rare but on occasion I have come across the odd client who doesn’t want to change but wants to repeatedly go over old, negative patterns which effectively reinforces their negative beliefs even further. Most clients come to a clinic to search for solutions so when I come across the above I have to be truthful and open with the client and ask them to come back when they are more open-minded and ready to move on. That way I am being honest with the client and true to myself which takes away any frustration or demotivation possibility.

5. How would you go about motivating someone who didn’t appear to be engaged in their work? 
MT:  In the first instance I would want to find out why the person was demotivated.  It would be important to understand if this is the first time they have felt demotivated, or if they have previously been engaged in their work.  If it was something new, then the demotivation could be due to a number of factors such as worries at home, being ill, or they might need a new challenge or change.  I would want to explore this.  If the person had never been engaged in their work then it would be a case of discussing with them whether they wanted to step up, or if it was time to move on.  In this case, it would be about putting the question back to the individual – to decide whether they wanted to work with me or not.
TC:  I would definitely set up a one to one meeting and assuming that I had earned respect and had rapport I would create the space for the individual to be able to open up and share what is going on for them at that time  asking questions starting with ‘You appear  demotivated to me – is this how it feels to you?’ I would then establish how long they had felt like that and could they link that to an event or situation in or outside of the workplace? I would ask them what they feel needs to happen to help them re-engage. If it was Occupational Health or HR related I would refer showing understanding and support. If however, it was more a case that the team member had become stale or stuck in a rut I would use The Six Human Psychological Needs model to discover their drivers and how we could meet those drivers more effectively.

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