Watching for intrinsic motivation

Over the weekend, I searched YouTube for videos on intrinsic motivation. I found a couple TED talks by authors on the subject and some animations from the long tail of crowdsourced content generators. Neither paid author appeared to be intrinsically motivated in their body language, tone of voice or presentation format or use of graphics. The animations seemed intrinsically motivated to me. This contrast appeared to fit the pattern I wrote about in Quality of writing for hire where the unpaid writers create text that is far more readable and rewarding. That page was the third most read of mine last year - further indication of the impact of intrinsically motivated explaining, writing and presenting.

My further reflection on this weekend discovery led me to another question: What is there to look for when watching for intrinsically motivated authors, experts and consultants? Here's what I came up with to answer that question of mine:

  • Really want to do it or making themselves do it - When we're intrinsically motivated, getting paid is an added bonus, but not the reason or incentive to contribute. We're glad to be doing it because it feels fulfilling and purposeful. We have a sense that we're the right person for the job that comes at an especially good time for us.
  • Relating to the audience or taking a defensive posture - When we're intrinsically motivated, we're expressing our concerns for others, making offers of solutions, and sharing insights that may relieve some others' anxieties. We've anticipated how to prevent their confusion and address their viewpoint.
  • Welcoming interpretations or insisting on one right answer - When we're intrinsically motivated, we realize how everyone's motivation, perceptions and attributions are unique. We expect the value in our self expression will be taken many different ways through many varied filters by others.
  • Offering a work in progress or the final answer - When we're intrinsically motivated, we're filled with wonder and fascination. We don't know what our activities will bring to us to give to others. We're caught up in an immersive exploration that only allows for us to offer timely progress reports.
  • In the flow or struggling under pressure - When we're intrinsically motivated, we're thinking "yes, thanks, more please" to life right now. We're basking in the bounty of good things coming our way. We relate to adversity as welcome challenges that will likely bring out our best character, inner resources and creativity.
Each of these distinctions are easily detected in writing, videos and presentations. We can tell which side of the line others fall on. We may also use these as standards to hold ourselves to our criteria to evaluate our own contributions.

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