Motivate people – an impossible mission?

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The ability to motivate your employees is often considered an important attribute of a leader. But some people say that it is impossible to motivate another human being because motivation need to come from within themselves. They mean that the only thing you can do as a leader is to provide the right environment and conditions for people to find their own inspiration. I think that both sides are right, I agree that motivation need to come from within in order to last and reach its full potential but I also believe that it is possible to motivate another human being. This can be done by an inspiring story, action or character but external motivation is often short term so if you are looking for some long-lasting behavioural change I don’t think it can be done without internal motivation.

One method of taking control of your own intrinsic motivation is by using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP helps you stop procrastinating and drive your behaviour in the direction you want. Since your actions defines who you are you owe it to yourself to learn how to master your own motivation.

Some tips that works for me:
Let’s say that you have decided to lose weight (by the way, this is a terribly defined goal… see Set goals and reach further). Imaging you are at the shopping mall waiting in a long que and you get an intense urge for that chocolate bar… on 50% sale and all! Just stop for a second and think for yourself:

  • This candy bar makes me fat, ugly, get bad skin, broken teeth etc and imaging yourself just like that vividly.
  • Imagine the choclate bar containing lots of disguisting things like pig-liver, worms, toxic waste… use your fantasy…
  • I am a disciplined guy that stick to my goals so I will not eat junk like that

All you need to do is to make the precieved pain of eating the candy bar larger than the perceived pleasure. It does not matter if these points are correct/realistic or not, the important thing is the meaning you attach to it and the actual result.

This method can of course be used in a positive context as well e.g. if you “should go to the gym”, imaging all positive things about it en enlarge them in your mind to increase the perception of pleasure doing it.


Interesting links on the topic:

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