What Are Motivation Theories?
A great motivational speech is going to include several elements that can touch the human psyche and will usually remind us that we are trying to achieve something greater than ourselves. We may have either lost passion for or have slipped into an apathetic state because of negativity, pressure, stress or any other long list of negative things that impact our daily resolve and long-term success.
Negative thinking is a (-) and positive thinking is a plus (+) because one is taking from your life and dreams while the other is adding. It really is that simple and so being able to stack the positives in your life when it comes to accomplishing your vision and goals becomes very important if you're going to really achieve your purpose.
The majority of the people never understand this one concept and they continue to allow negative people, negative situations and their own negative thinking impact and rob them even while they are trying to go for what they really want in life. What is so powerful about a motivational or inspirational speech is that it has the ability to cut through all that negativity and add a supercharged plus to your thinking.
The problem is that a good speech is only one positive in a sea of negatives and all too quickly if you have not yet trained yourself and your thinking to stay focused the negatives will quickly overwhelm you and suck you back down. Your pain returns in the form of circumstances, or negative influences or your own bad thoughts and the motivation subsides.
So we need to have a strategic motivation plan in place in our lives and in our worldview that constantly overrides and drives out those negatives that are dragging down the average person. Many of my students do not understand this concept that they can put intrinsic motivation in and override the negative most of the time. Staying stacked with positives keep us in peak performance states longer to achieve at high levels.
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What I just explained is a motivation theory. Now that I understand a little more about how motivation works I can apply that knowledge and take more strategic action every day to ensure I am protecting myself and moving toward my worthwhile vision and goals. Let's take a look at a few of these motivation theories and apply them to our lives so we can get more results.
Motivation Theory #1 Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
This is the earliest and most widely known theory of motivation, developed by Abraham Maslow (1943) in the 1940s and 1950s. It is actually one of my favorites just because it's basic and easy to understand. It is problematic on a few levels but it sums up motivation from a human needs perspective quite nicely.
1. Physiological Needs (e.g. food, water, shelter, sleep)
This can be accomplished by almost anybody and this represents the most basic motivation for anyone in the animal kingdom.
Even severe drug addicts and alcoholics can usually maintain this level of motivation for themselves. Also, I find some people couch surfing and carving out a meaningless existence for themselves on this level.
They are simply not motivated past being alive and are ok to mooch and be dependant on other people. they don't mind freeloading off of society and taking from other peoples hard work and efforts. They almost feel like someone owes them something.
I call this the drifter stage. Hurting people doesn't seem to affect this mindset very much. There is no real obligation to emotionally well-guard or even fend for another human being because they barely do it for themselves.
2. Safety and security (secure source of income, a place to live, health and well-being)
Now, this is where life actually quits being a game and people realize that they have to take responsibility for themselves if they are ever going to truly be safe and secure.
People become willing to work for themselves at this point even if it's doing something that makes them unhappy. Happiness can easily take a back seat to provide an income and well being for themselves. You can be in this state and earn very well but still, hurt people you think you love.
3. Belongingness and love (integration into social groups, feel part of a community or a group; affectionate relationships)
An important step in this motivation theory is wanting to participate in society on some level in a positive and productive manner and the love for others can truly overtake all other activities.
We see in this stage a person actually begin to work for something other than just for themselves. They are motivated by their love for their spouse or children. I have seen young people working for their Moms and siblings because there is no father in the home.
4. Esteem (respect for a person as a useful, honorable human being)
Ahhhhh... the need for more. A promotion here is because of status as opposed for the promotion back at belongingness and love and is more about the fact that now a person can actually get the things the family needs like a bigger house, a vacation, better clothes or even give more money to a local charity or their church.
This is one of the holes in this theory for me and that esteem sometimes sets us up for more problematic behavior in terms of our functioning role in society if we are not doing it for the right reason which I find more encompassing in stage 3. If love is the greatest gift of all and the ultimate motivator than maybe our need to be viewed as mini kings and queens should be re-evaluated here. Although it is a great motivator I have privately wondered if this stage and the last stage should be switched around.
5. Self-actualization (individual’s desire to grow and develop to his or her fullest potential)
Great now we are back on track. I call this the world changer stage and where we should all be heading for the overall betterment of societies and community. It really is the premise behind succeed forever community.
Different people get here differently but it is the desire to grow to our fullest potential for the betterment of society that every person should realize. There is just not a better way to live as every day is such an exciting adventure. Everything in self-actualization revolves around your significant purpose and the impact you are making on the world.
Once again to ride your ego into this stage seems a little odd to me as opposed to riding on the back of your love for yourself and for others to realize you need to keep growing and achieving for a higher purpose.
Maslow motivation theories are summed up with deficiency needs, need to be met before self-actualization happens. Although it is the path for some it is not true for all.
Deficiency needs – The very basic needs for survival and security.
These needs include:
• physiological needs
• safety and security needs
• social needs – belongingness and love
• esteem needs
Growth needs – Personal growth and fulfillment of personal potential.
It may not cause a physical indication if these ‘deficiency needs’ are not fulfilled, but the individual will feel anxious and tense. So the most basic level of needs must be fulfilled before a person wants to focus on the secondary or higher level needs. Once again I attach love for others to 5 and should spurn our evolvement as mankind. If it is not then what are we really achieving? So I reworked this into my theory pdf and worksheet Drifter|Worker|Worldchanger, DOWNLOAD IT HERE.
Motivation Theory #2 Alderfer – ERG Theory
Clayton P. Alderfer's ERG theory from 1969 reclassified Maslow's five human needs into three categories: Existence, Relatedness, and Growth. Both Maslow and Alderfer tried to work out how these needs or more accurately these stages of needs become more or less important to people.
Alderfer agreed with Maslow that unmet needs served as primary ways to motivate individuals. This understanding of ourselves serves us as we figure out what is now generally termed as our 'WHY' in many of our motivational talks today.
Alderfer also agreed that individuals generally move up the hierarchy in satisfying their needs; that is, they satisfy lower-order before higher-order needs. As lower-order needs are satisfied, they become less important, but Alderfer also said: as higher-order needs are satisfied they become more important.
It's important to note here that satisfying our needs becomes inherently selfish as we can only fill our personal bucket so full which continues to lend to the problem I outlined above. If I am not working for the betterment of others then my self-actualization seems very misplaced. Anyway here is a summary of Alderfer's motivational theory, which I have reworked one more time but its closer to what I have experienced as a career life coach and motivational speaker.
1. Existence Needs
These include needs for basic material necessities. In short, it includes an individual’s physiological and physical safety needs.
2. Relatedness Needs
Individuals need significant relationships (be with family, peers or superiors), love and belongingness, they strive toward reaching public fame and recognition. This class of needs contains Maslow’s social needs and external component of esteem needs.
3. Growth Needs
Need for self-development, personal growth, and advancement form together this class of need. This class of needs contains Maslow’s self-actualization needs and intrinsic component of esteem needs.
For example, there is a student, who has excellent grades, friends, and a high standard of living, maybe also work at the university. What happens if this individual finds that he or she is frustrated in attempts to get more autonomy and responsibility at the university, maybe also more scholarship that generally encourages individuals’ growth? Frustration in satisfying a higher (growth) need has resulted in a regression to a lower level of (relatedness) needs (‘I need just my friends, some good wine, I do not want to go to the university anymore.’).
This event is known and called the frustration-regression process. This is a more realistic approach as it recognizes that because when a need is met, it does not mean it will always remain met. ERG theory of motivation is very flexible: it explains needs as a range rather than as a hierarchy. The implication of this theory: Managers must understand that an employee has various needs that must be satisfied at the same time. ERG theory says, if the manager concentrates only on one need at a time, he or she won’t be able to motivate the employee effectively and efficiently. Prioritization and sequence of these three categories, classes can be different for each individual.
Motivation Theory #3 Locke's Goal-Setting Theory
Dr. Edwin Locke worked on goal setting in the 60s and was able to effectively show that working toward a goal is also a major source of motivation – which, in turn, improves performance.
So where it is so important is that the vision can be switched out but each person's purpose can be actualized through goal setting for the greater good.
This is very important for team leaders, and managers to understand. Locke's research showed that the more difficult and specific a goal is, the harder people tend to work to achieve it.
Edwin Locke was a master and his work may prove to some of the greatest out there on goal setting and how it connects to the mind and achievement.
Locke reviewed a decade's worth of laboratory and field studies on the effects of goal setting and performance.
He found that, for 90 percent of the time, specific and challenging (but not too challenging) goals led to higher performance than easy, or "do your best," goals. Can you believe that... 90%!!!
Unfortunately, most people google SMART goals and in typical millennial fashion miss out on the juiciest research on goal achievement because someone came up with an acronym for goal setting.
For example, telling someone to "try hard" or "do your best" is less effective than saying "try to get more than 80 percent correct," or "concentrate on beating your best time." Likewise, having a goal that's too easy is not motivating.
Hard goals are more motivating than easy ones because it feels more of an accomplishment to achieve something you've worked hard for.
Anyway, let me get off the soap box and break this down for you and yes Locke and Latham's work is what I use for my strategy session workshops. Very powerful and effective in helping people as they self-actualize.
Locke and Latham's Five Principles broken down are going to look like this and optimized together with a bigger vision give people the best chance for success in any field or organization.
According to Locke and Latham, there are five goal setting principles that can improve our chances of success:
Clarity is a big deal as you get into goal-setting I firmly believe that clarity may be the most important part of this whole process and obviously, someone else did too and why so many people are able to results out of the SMART model. You want your goals to be specific and measurable and certainly in line with the bigger vision and have a timeline for which it can be accomplished
Heres where the smart model begins to fall apart for some people. The goal must be challenging but I think as it relates to bigger vision, goals can be easier and harder. I have personally never worked on anything in life that did not have different degrees of difficulty. Understand that your vision will have hard parts that are going to require the next step in order to accomplish it.
So many fail here and real commitment is very underrated. we are tempted to quit when the going gets tough. Team commitment is rare for lots of reasons. If people are not included in goal setting and their skills are not assessed properly the overall morale will decay and crumble if the main visionaries character does not align with the goals of the staff. Negative reinforcement will encourage more negative enforcement both in ourselves and in others.
So many times in so many different arenas I have witnessed terrible feedback for people's efforts or lack of. If the goal was properly laid out and put forward for the person with proper motivation in line with their life's purpose and fulfillment of needs, motivation should be easy. It should have moved from extrinsic to intrinsic. Strong leaders and managers are masters at this, weak ones often resort to anger, threats which do more to discourage the goal and often through turnover and other factors hits the reset button on the goal.
5. Task Complexity
Take special care to ensure that work doesn't become too overwhelming when goals or assignments are highly complex. People who work in complicated and demanding roles can often push themselves too hard if they don't take account of the complexity of the task.
Motivation Theories That Don't Work
Haha... I just thought that would be a funny way to wrap up this article. There are many more motivation theories out there to be looked at and reviewed, I have chosen not to do an exhaustive expose here at this time but I do reserve the right to add some in the future as time permits.
I have researched and read many more and its kind of fun to see how the personality of the theory really goes along with the theory. I believe that the ones above have influenced me the most and are the most relatable and best-researched theories. They are timeless and can be used to get what you're after in life
I have laid out a very thorough pdf called worker drifter world changer that works you through the basic tenants of where you may be in the above models... you can download it here.
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