Having reflected more deeply on all I've recently learned about our varieties of personal motivation, I'm now seeing a pattern in it all. It seems we find the necessary motivation in different ways depending on the situation. Here's a brief look at that pattern:
- When we're living in desperate situations, we call upon our instincts to take the necessary actions. We may be living on the street like the homeless and runaways, in a war zone or failed state or even living in the wilderness. In each case, we will be driven by our survival instincts. We'll feel the urges to do whatever keeps us fed, watered and rested. We also get energized by our herding instinct which seeks safety in numbers when ganging up on others or providing us protection from dangers. Our mating instincts will increase the population for the sake of safety and continuity.
- When we're living in stabilized situations, we rely on extrinsic rewards to take the required actions. We may inhabit a cubicle in a big enterprise or work station in a factory. We may own some property and vehicles. We may also keep a full schedule of familiar routines. We do what we're told to do by higher ups, policies or legal systems. We do what we're obligated to do by others relying on us. We comply with requests that pay us to put out the effort. We dismiss those temptations that get penalized severely. We look for ways to cheat and game the system so we get rewarded for less effort or escape the punishment for indulging in a temptation. We make ourselves do what needs has to get done, since our self motivation has been compromised.
- When we're living in competitive situations, we rely on our intrinsic motivation to make the extra effort. The chance to excel in comparison to rivals fuels our self motivation to do our best. The set-up to prove to ourselves how good we can become inspires us to take on new challenges. We're motivated to take initiative, stretch ourselves and explore new possibilities. With so much inner drive, we're likely to be overworked and underpaid. Like starving artists, we'll receive much praise and little compensation for our excellence. We'll get taken advantage of for our generosity, willingness to take initiative and sense of responsibility to see things through to completion. We'll make the sacrifice of extrinsic rewards to follow our intrinsic motivations to our heart's content.
- When we're living in collaborative situations, we realize the best of every kind of drive in us. We do what we feel like doing because that's how we do our best, get creative about problems and provide the most benefit to others. We receive more than enough extrinsic rewards to prevent them from becoming an issue, distraction or deterrent to self motivation. We find our herding instincts get deeply satisfied by the dynamics of collaboration making compatibility, safety and sustainability a reality. We develop a strong sense of rectitude which preempts any inclinations to cheat, take advantage of others or profit at others' expense.
With this pattern in mind, it seems to me we're equipped with the right kind of drives for every situation we might encounter. When we have motivation problems, we're failing to call upon the appropriate kind of motivation within us. When we're experiencing a flow state, we're finding the right kind of motivation we need for the situation.