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Drive – how to motivate yourself and others

Drive – how to motivate yourself and others

“People often say that motivation doesn´t last. Well, neither does bathing – that´s why we recommend it daily.”

Zig Ziglar, American author and motivational speaker.

14/05/2024 Back to all articles

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist and is considered the father of humanistic psychology in the 1950ies. He introduced the approach of positive psychology. His theories as hierarchy of needs, self-actualization, and peak experiences became fundamental subjects in the humanist movement.

Maslow designed the pyramid of needs. He subdivides needs in basic needs, psychological needs, and self-fulfilment needs.

Basic needs are physiological needs (food, water, warmth, rest).

Safety needs are security and safety.

Psychological needs are needs of belonging and love as friends and intimate relationships, social ties, and emotional contentment. Esteem needs are also psychological needs and refer to a feeling of accomplishment and prestige.

Self-fulfilment needs are the top of the pyramid and consist of self-actualization, achieving one’s full potential including creative activities.

Some motivational theories credit our instincts, drive, or arousal levels for helping us get and stay motivated, while others suggest that motivation comes from certain human needs, our expectations, or a desire for external rewards.

Motivation theory seeks to explain what compels us to take certain actions.

To take action, including decision making, is crucial in our personal life, for society, and in the work environment.

“Motivation refers to the way in which urges, drives, desires, aspirations, strivings or needs direct, control or explain the behaviour of human beings.”

(Dalton E. McFarland, author, expert in Business Management).

“Motivation means a process of stimulating people to action to accomplish desired goals.”

(William G Scout, author of “Organization Theory: A structural and Behavioural Analysis,” Irwin Series of Management and the Behavioural Science)

Motivation causes us to act, whether it is getting a glass of water to reduce thirst or reading a book to gain knowledge. It involves the biological, emotional, social, and cognitive forces that activate behaviour.


Motivation can be divided into two main types:

  1. Intrinsic Motivation
  2. Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation arises from within the individual. It can be driven by an interest or enjoyment of the task itself or by the satisfaction of the above-described needs. People engaging intrinsically in action, or an activity find it inherently satisfying.

Extrinsic motivation is driven by external factors that prompt the individual to earn rewards or avoid punishment. This form of motivation comes from outside the individual. Actions are performed to receive something from others or avoid negative outcomes, rather than for the enjoyment of the activity itself.

Intrinsic motivation is often associated with elevated levels of engagement and creativity and can lead to deep fulfilment and long-term persistence in activities.

Extrinsic motivation can effectively initiate behaviour but may not be as enduring and sustainable as intrinsic motivation.

In developed, high-income countries with advanced economic systems, high standards of living, robust healthcare, sophisticated infrastructure, and well-established education systems basic needs – the base of the pyramid – are mostly satisfied.

When civilization after war advanced, a form of motivation emerged that would focus on reward and punishment as mechanisms to control behaviour, suitable for routine, rule-based, and predictable tasks.

In today’s fast world, ruled by digitalisation and artificial intelligence, routine, rule-based and predictable tasks will be mostly overtaken by machines. Humans will – at least for now – cover complex and creative jobs where a more integrated approach is needed.


Creativity in the widest range of definition is a skill and human trait referring to the ability to generate ideas, solutions, products. It involves the capacity to see existing elements in new ways, make connections between apparently unrelated phenomena, and produce original and effective ideas to resolve or express oneself. Creativity involves a cognitive process, imagination, critical thinking, knowledge, intuition, and emotion as well as human senses.

Creativity consists of:

  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Knowledge and learning
  • Openness to experience
  • Motivation
  • Environment
  • Social interaction
  • Time for reflection and incubation
  • Mindfulness
  • Elimination of cognitive restraints
  • Intuition


 A motivational system of reward and punishment hardly empowers creativity as it inhibits risk-taking, may narrow the focus, enhances dependency on rewards, limits autonomy, ignores social and emotional components that are crucial to creativity.


Daniel H. Pink states in his book “Drive” (Penguin Random House 2009) that to better foster creativity it is advantageous to focus on intrinsic motivators and create environments that encourage autonomy, mastery, and purpose (LINK MFM purpose):

  1. Encourage Autonomy – the desire to direct your own life.

Businesses should strive to minimize control and offer choice within parameters. This can mean flexible work conditions, the opportunity to choose projects, or encouraging entrepreneurial within the firm.

  1. Promoting Mastery – the will to progress and get better at something that matters.

Employers can support mastery by offering continuous learning opportunities and fostering a culture that does not fear failure. Regular feedback and challenging but achievable goals can help employees progress along their mastery path.

  1. Fostering Purpose – the longing to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

Companies should help employees see how their roles contribute to the company´s broader mission. This can be achieved through transparent communication and by aligning corporate goals with positive social impact.

Enhancing autonomy, mastery, and purpose leads to personal growth and fulfilment and thus satisfaction and productivity.


Staying motivated and engaged at work is crucial not only for the company´s productivity and growth, but also and overall, for your personal satisfaction and professional success.

The first step is a careful self-analysis considering autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Try to understand the status quo in respect to these three factors that form the base for intrinsic motivation:

  • Which is the extent of autonomy you have in respect to the function you cover?
  • What is the grade of mastery? Do you need an upskilling? Do you want to learn to get better or do you prefer the status quo while being helped and sustained by others?
  • What is the mission of the company? How do you contribute, what is the purpose within your work? Are your goals aligned with the company goals? Do you have a social impact? Is a social impact relevant to you?


You need to ask the question of subjective relevance in respect to all three factors – autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Try to understand your personal motivational factors. Are you despite research and actual trends intrigued by extrinsic stimulus as salary and incentives, even though these may result in less engagement and more changes?

Motivation is personal and subjective and the form of motivation you respond to should not be judged. However, you should be aware of what drives you, how you are motivated and how you motivate yourself towards a clearly set goal, how you stay engaged.

For most employees to stay motivated as above described means to:

  • Find your purpose and / or align with the company´s purpose
  • Set clear goals of what you want in your life
  • Seek autonomy and mastery
  • Ensure alignment of values
  • Foster relationships
  • Ask for feedback in your network
  • Maintain the balance you want between life and work
  • Celebrate achievements
  • Stay challenged


A recruiter can play a crucial role in understanding and assessing your motivation for a job and your motivational pattern in general. In initial interviews he/she may start with a detailed conversation about your career goals, interests, and seeking for opportunities. This helps you both understand what drives you professionally and what you are enthusiastic about. A discussion of values and cultural fit helps you understand if a presented opportunity and company align with your motivations, may they be intrinsic or extrinsic (motivational fit). By asking behavioural questions or doing role plays, a recruiter or talent consultant may reveal what motivates you under different circumstances. Personality tests and assessment tools with a talent consultant uncover intrinsic motivations that you may not be aware of. Besides a self-analysis plan to understand what drives you, a recruiter or talent consultant will support you by assessing with a look from the outside. They may realize aspects you have not considered.


“People often say that motivation doesn´t last. Well, neither does bathing – that´s why we recommend it daily.”

Zig Ziglar, American author and motivational speaker.


Morgan Philips – Making success stories happen

Written by Gabriele Kamps, Content, Communication, Coaching.