Motivation and Success as identical twins
The word 'Motivation' has become one of the amply conversed topics in
this era. Plethora of views and ideals are expressed on the subject of
motivation particularly within corporate and academic circles.
Motivation is taught in degree and master degree programs conducted by
almost all reputed universities under management subjects owing to the
importance placed on the subject of motivation in the present day
context. Many organizations spend a substantial amount of money and time
in conducting regular programs internally and with reputed motivational
speakers to motivate the staff to get the maximum out of them in view to
drive the organization towards its objectives.
Yet, how to motivate people effectively remains a common question. It
is not only concerning other people, one may find it difficult to
motivate himself for doing something good for him. All in all, one can
get what he wants, which is worth the investment or the effort, done
from someone who is motivated to do it. People do not do anything, good
or bad, without a motivation. Higher the motivation higher the effort he
makes. Simply, the success is directly and sturdily impacted by
motivation and thinking of success where there is no adequate motivation
to achieve success is a flop. History has proven that motivated people
have undertaken herculean tasks and achieved much success in every
sphere of human existence.
Every entity has a prime necessity of having motivated people within
it, if that entity wants to be successful. The entity can be a family,
an association, a business organization, a country or any other make-up
of human beings. Individual is not an exception. If somebody needs to
achieve something to be successful, he must have a sufficient motivation
for putting the needed effort which definitely encompasses a dedication
and a sacrifice.
Motivation has two aspects; self-motivation and the motivation
created within others. Many people give less prominence to
self-motivation even though they talk a lot about motivating others. As
they do not consider self-motivation as the firm ground needed for them
to stand on to motivate others. This is much visible with some parents
and teachers who do all hard work to motivate their children and
students but do not do enough to motivate themselves to correct
What scholars say
Many theories have been presented on the subject of motivation.
Abraham Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs theory, Herzberg's two-factor
theory, Alderfer's ERG theory, McClelland's acquired needs theory are
among widely discussed motivational theories in this age.
Abraham Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs theory talked about two
principles, namely, Deficit principle and Progression principle.
In Herzberg's two-factor theory, he identifies two sets of factors
that impact motivation in the workplace, namely, Hygiene factors which
include salary, job security, working conditions, organizational
policies and technical quality of supervision and satisfiers or
motivators which include things such as responsibility, achievement,
growth opportunities and feelings of recognition.
Clayton Alderfer's ERG theory or Existence, Relatedness and Growth
theory is built upon Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory.
David McClelland's acquired needs theory recognizes that everyone
prioritizes needs differently. He also believes that individuals are not
born with these needs. McClelland identifies three specific needs,
namely, High need for achievement, High need for affiliation and High
need for power.
Other than these theoreticians in motivational theories who are well
known within the academic circles, there may have been thousands of
others who have expressed their ideas and theories on the subject of
motivation. Whether any of these theories comprehensively addresses the
true nature of the human psychic pertaining to motivation becomes a
question in situations where some organizations that practice these
theories too fail to motivate their people to meet those organizations'
Disregarding the depth and the breadth which all these theoreticians
went into in their respective theories, all these theories can just be
categorised into two types; The factors that create intrinsic motivation
and the factors that create extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is something which is generated by the work
itself. A scientist or a researcher who strives to invent a new thing or
arrive at some new conclusion without expecting any monetary gain or any
other benefit is motivated by the intrinsic motivation. Even an
employee, who becomes quite happy on learning that his employers have
implemented something which he proposed, gets motivated further through
intrinsic motivation. Simply, the child who reads a book for long hours
at night for self-satisfaction, without thinking of sleep is motivated
Extrinsic motivation is created mainly by benefits the person is
getting such as salary or other financial gains and perks. Even the
reputation, recognition and the privileges that the employee gains
within the organization due to the positive contribution he makes for
the organization through his good work could in a way be understood as
extrinsic motivational factors.
Also, the person who does social work for earning some reputation and
respect in return is primarily instigated to do such work by extrinsic
The politician, social worker, government employee or any other
person who discharges his duties mainly due to intrinsic motivation and
not due to extrinsic motivation is doing an honourable job.
Motivating oneself or others only for a good cause is very essential.
Otherwise, motivation can bring about disasters not benefits. There are
many instances where motivation has been used to do harm to oneself and
Nonetheless, all the motivational factors are stemming from one
universal reality which is the likeliness of each individual nurtured by
that individual's temperament or psychic state. Until this is identified
clearly and addressed in a proper manner no person could effectively be
But the question is, should one always succumb to this temperament or
let the others to succumb to it? It should not be the case, as
temperament may not be for the good always. Specially, if parents and
teachers allow their young children or the students to give in to their
own dispositions which may be childish or short sighted in many cases,
the result will not bring about success but destructions. Therefore,
parents and teachers have a huge responsibility for inculcating good
ambitions within children and motivating them effectively to achieve
those good ambitions. Yet, the application for an organization such as a
company or for a country should be quite different and what is more
important for them is identifying each individual's motivational factors
In an organization, the management has to identify each employee's
motivational factors before it is too late to retain the good employees
and to get the best out of them. It is true that the organization has to
compromise its some of the short term objectives a little bit in taking
actions to motivate its staff. But that compromise will bring many an
advantage to the organization than what it sacrifices due to the
compromise it makes.
In a country too, the policy and law makers must try to understand
the varied motivational factors, at least based on different categories,
which the people of the country fall into, and make policy frameworks
accordingly rather than taking the entire country as a whole in deciding
policies and incentives for the people. Doing so will definitely help
the countries not only to achieve development goals but to stop
brain-drain and to bring back intellectual expatriates including
scientists, professionals and academics who have left the country of
their birth due to the reasons which are mostly connected to
To achieve success through motivating others, the management of the
organization, in case of a corporate and the policy and law makers of
the country, in case of a country, should have enough proper management
skills and the belief that the proper management culture, which puts
adequate emphasis on the matter of motivating people, creates a win-win
situation in a corporate or in a country.
Also, the onus the parents, teachers and other elders have for
motivating children for a good ambition is something which should not be
considered less important. But, one should keep in mind that the success
which comes through motivating others totally depends on the degree of
self-motivation the motivator has within him and the level of purity of
If one finds it difficult to motivate himself for a good cause, he
should look for a wholesome inspiration, finding which may not be
difficult for him.
(The writer holds an MBA and a Postgraduate Diploma from the
University of Moratuwa and counts many years of experience in management