Corporate America spends billions of dollars each year on programs, seminars and workshops in an attempt to get their employees motivated. This column is about to save you some money. Have you ever wondered what motivates people to do their best? What is it that drives them to raise the bar and strive ever more toward excellence? To reach deep down inside and pull out yet another victory? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself these questions? If you haven’t, I invite you now to take a moment and ask.
What is it that motivates you to do your best? Is it pride in what you do? A sense of accomplishment? Is it personal fulfillment? Or is it out of a sense of commitment? Perhaps it’s your dedication to a cause or person other than yourself, or for your team.
Research indicates that, by our very nature, we perform at our best when we are motivated by both, a sense of personal fulfillment and a sense of obligation towards others. Psychologists define these dual motivators as self-actualization — the need to be the best that we can possibly be, and self-transcendence — the need to reach beyond ourselves towards others. It’s easy to identify how we manifest these two basic human needs in the way we set goals and identify obligations. What’s difficult, though, is that we are all plugged into a system that promotes our spending a disproportionate amount of time on the personal fulfillment, self-actualizing aspect of our lives which, when left alone, creates an imbalance.
My personal experience has taught me that I cannot sustain true fulfillment (the very thing I seek) unless I constantly incorporate the outward factor in my plans. Are goals important? Yes. In fact they are essential for our success but goals represent just one ingredient out of many. Left alone, they are meaningless. I had to come to grips with the fact that my goals are inextricably linked to my obligations. I realized that I was most effective in reaching my goals when I was able to support them with strong reasons for achieving them. Reasons are fueled by purpose. Purpose is what drives all of us to take action, and action is the only thing that will net results. When we analyze our goals in the light of a meaningful purpose, we will discover the link between our goals and obligations — the key to staying self motivated.
Identify your Purpose: Do you know what your purpose is, personally and professionally? Are you open to the fact that the two might be linked? So many people who feel disengaged at work might be surprised to learn that business can be a tremendous source of purpose and meaning because it so often provides us with opportunities for both self-actualization and self-transcendence. How? Business is all about connecting with others. In business our success is in direct proportion to the value we create for our customers and clients. Business also provides us with another powerful connection to our team. As part of a team our goals must go hand in hand with our obligations, otherwise the team loses. And so do we.
Set goals in light of your obligations. To be successful in business, our first goal and our first obligation must be to lift the team. We must help raise profits and lower costs, increase productivity and lower down-time, boost efficiency and eliminate deficiency. All other goals and all other obligations play a supporting role.
Where do we go from here? We go to the team — our organization — for its purpose. It is our organization’s purpose which ties our individual and collective actions together, and as purpose does, gives meaning to our efforts. It helps us to take aim as we set our own goals to lift the team. It helps us define our obligations and how they are to be carried out.
I’ll admit that, at first glance, it’s a bit ironic. That business can offer us such a viable opportunity to find personal fulfillment and sustained self-motivation is not the traditional view. Perhaps, though, it’s more traditional than we know. Perhaps that’s how business started out many centuries ago and we just took it to another level. Whatever the case might be I, for one, consider it a blessing to be able to contribute to a purpose as part of a team that benefits so many around me. Self-actualizing and self-transcending as part of purpose-filled team. It’s all in a day’s work.
Manny García-Tuñón, executive vice president of Lemartec, an international design-build firm headquartered in Miami, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.