Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What gets you started in the morning?

Persuading someone to read something - even something very short - requires a leverage point. You need to have something to exchange for the time and attention it will take to read what you have written. We often think we know what will motivate others until we take some time to reflect on what actually motivates us.

WIFM? What's in it for me? That may be the question that you have assumed is at the heart of all motivation. It is - and it isn't. People have done astonishing things because what was in it for "them" was the ability to make a difference in other people's lives. This does not mean that we are all motivated by altruism: it does challenge the generalization that all motivation is self-centred.

What got you out of bed this morning? I would be willing to bet the answer has more to do with relationships than it does with stuff. If I could read your mind, I would guess that you had commitments to other people that you wanted to fulfill, or small children climbing on your kitchen counters, or encounters you were eager to begin. I would guess that what really gets you out of bed each morning is the desire to be related to other human beings.

Think about that. What changes when you notice that you are more motivated by connection than you are by money or excitement or cool stuff? What changes in the way you motivate other people when you notice that what they want is different than what they want to be paid? Does it change the way you write the first sentence of your next email?

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