Motivating People - The Myth
What people typically mean when they ask "how can I motivate
people," is how can I change them to do what I think they should do.
Any self-sustaining change comes from a change of heart. It cannot
be willed or imposed from without. In this sense we cannot change or
motivate anyone in any meaningful, i.e., sustainable way even if we
believe it best for them. The belief that we can change people - and even
more basically, that we have the right to - is a myth of the
dominance model. Other than being a violation of individual rights,
such behaviors are a waste of time and energy and unlikely to
accomplish anything more than a bad case of burnout.
Rather than spend time trying to change people who obviously are not
interested, we can make a much greater overall impact by working with
people who are open to and "ripe for" change, and needing support. This
will impact not only those you are working with but also the supposedly
unmotivated, by their observing the support you lend and the way in
which you lend it, and by their observing others changing in ways they
had perhaps not even considered before. Indeed, the whole world may be
affected in ways you may never see.
We influence others not so much by what we say or do as how we live
our lives. We must be models of what we teach, living our own lives
with integrity and authenticity and remembering we are not teaching
perfection, but self-responsibility with love and compassion. Even the
teaching of any particular technique is secondary to this central
concept. As we take responsibility for living our lives in this way, we
inspire and encourage others to do likewise.
The images we carry of ourselves are powerful factors in determining
how we live our lives. Any program involving motivation
and behavior modification must address this issue. We best motivate
ourselves by holding and nurturing within our heart our most cherished
image of who we are. Likewise we best motivate others by supporting them in recognizing and nurturing what it is in them they most aspire to.
Offering an environment in which people can start to feel better
about themselves is a basic ingredient of any change process. As people
begin to feel better, they are motivated to feel more and more so.