The Theories on Motivation and How to Motivate Yourself

There are various theories about motivation and in this article I shall look at a few of them. The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow turned psychology on its head and instead of studying sick people and those with problems he studied healthy, successful people to find out how and why they achieved their success.
From his studies he devised what he called The Pyramid of Motivation, which originally had five basic levels of motivation with survival at the bottom and self-actualisation at the top:
1. Survival: This is our most basic level of motivation to obtain food and shelter.
2. Security: Our need to feel physically and emotionally safe.
3. Belonging: This our need to feel accepted by others and belonging to the group or society.
4. Esteem: This has to do with obtaining self-respect and respect from others.
5. Self-Actualisation: The need for self-expression, achievement and reaching our full potential.
He later added two other higher levels: Beauty: The level where we are motivated by Physical beauty, the beauty of nature, music, poetry, art etc.; and Search for Truth: "The great motivator for great minds". This is our need to know the truth about life, the universe and everything. The lower three levels are all deficiency needs; we are motivated to obtain what we do not have. The others are Esteem levels that build on what we do have. Each of the lower motivations must be satisfied in order to get to the next higher level. A person can regress to a lower level if it is not fulfilled. People are motivated to compensate for their deficiencies or they are motivated to realise their potentials. Motivation is essential for self-improvement.
After the 2nd World War McGregor developed his theory of motivation based on Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X said that: "People are basically lazy. They are undisciplined, unmotivated and must be carefully supervised to get the job done". This is the old school of thought based on the old command and control hierarchical structure of business i.e. "I'm in charge do as you're told or get out". This was because most managers after the war were ex-officers from the military who were used to discipline and telling people to do things. Theory Y said: "People are good and self-motivated". This is now the foundation for all modern management principles where staff are supported, encouraged, appreciated, valued and praised for their achievements. Brian Tracy took this further and developed his Theory Z which says that: "People will perform either way depending on how they are organised, directed and treated by management. Managers' attitudes and expectations exert an inordinate influence on the behaviour of their employees".
Herzberg had two parts to his theory. The first he called Hygiene Factors. These were our drives to satisfy our basic needs but they have limited power as motivators. These were seen as minimums and in the work place would be things like pay and working conditions. The second he called Motivation Factors, those that satisfy our higher needs and generate continuous motivation. Examples include:
Involvement, where staff are consulted and informed about company practises and decisions.
Challenging and interesting work.
Good relationships with co-workers.
Good relationships with bosses.
Opportunities for self-improvement, to grow and advance.
The best companies constantly revue these examples and, if anything isn't working, make changes whenever necessary.
One company, General Electric at Hawthorn, tried an experiment to find ways of improving the conditions for their staff. Having found the lighting was in adequate they changed it and productivity increased. They changed it again and productivity increased still further. They consulted the staff and changed the desks and productivity increased even further. But they found that it was not the changes they were making but it was the attention they were paying to their staff that increased the productivity. "The continual attention of managers increases higher order motivators and improves production". The more that staff are listened to, talked to, encouraged and praised the better they perform. This became known as the Hawthorn Effect.
McClelland's theory says that there are three types of people:
1."People who are motivated by personal achievement". These people would include Doctors and salesmen, people who work mostly by themselves.
2."People who motivate by influence". These people get things done through others and would include managers and coaches.
3."People who are motivated by cooperation". Such people are team players and co-ordinators.
If you take a great salesman, who is comfortable at position one, and make him a sales manager, position two, you would end up losing a great salesman and gaining a poor sales manager. This explains the old adage about putting square pegs in round holes. Find out where your people are most happy (position 1, 2 or 3) and put them there. They will flourish better and so will the company.
In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) we use the theory of two basic types of motivation: 'Away From', where you move away from what you don't like or what is painful and 'Towards', where you move towards what you do like and want or what is pleasurable. This is also known as 'The Pleasure/Pain Principle'. We each have a tendency towards one or other of them but we may use either depending on the situation. NLP is great for self-improvement.
So how can you motivate yourself to do something? There are various methods but here is one you can try. Think of the task you need to do and see yourself having completed it. Bring the picture closer and put it in to sharp focus with full colour. Now hear what you might hear when the task is completed. It might be praise from you spouse or supervisor or even your own voice telling you what a good job you have done. Turn the volume up a little if you need to and really hear it clearly. Now get a feeling of what it would feel like to have completed the task. Make it feel good, really strengthen those feeling and feel great about having got the job done well. Now run a movie or video in your mind putting all these things together. Really experience it to the full and see, hear and feel clearly how you will be when the task is completed. Great isn't it! Now all you have to do is keep those sights, sounds and feelings of motivation and accomplishment with you, especially whichever seems strongest, and go and get the job done. I wonder how many of you knew that you could play around with the 'software' of your brain like that?