Organization & Leadership Consulting

Identifying Your Own Personal Motives

diver with personal motives to explore a ship

The question, “Why do we do what we do?” could lead to existential angst, if you chose to see it that way. Or it could be the beginning of a productive dive into understanding your own personal motivation. The deeper the dive, the more you and your team will find to help with productivity and higher rates of success. 

Suit Up for the Dive

A valuable approach is to start with understanding different kinds of motivation and how they influence behavior. 

Two Types of Motivation

There are two general types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is internally driven. Extrinsic motivation is externally driven. A desire for achievement and greater success is an example of an intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation could be simple, like an adjustment in salary.

Most personal motives will be a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. So how do you identify what’s really driving you and your team members?

Dive Deep and Explore

You’ll need time to be introspective. Consider exploring:

  • Past achievements and what led to them
  • Future goals and why they are important enough for you to pursue
  • Your core values and how they’ve shaped the above, and why

When you identify past achievements, analyze what you consider successful about them. As you consider your future goals, ask yourself what you are willing to defer in order to achieve them. And finally, what do you value enough to let it cost you something? Each of these can help you identify your personal motivations. The intersection of these things is a good indicator of your core motivations.

Then consider how those personal motives fit within the larger culture and context of your organization. Compare your personal motives with the values of your organization. Consider how you could connect your intrinsic motivations with relevant external ones. Once the internal work is done, make a point of stating the connections and insights to a few trustworthy colleagues, friends, and family members. Doing so will clarify and solidify the most impactful insights.

Guiding Others Through the Depths

Once you’ve clarified your personal-motive discoveries, you can more effectively help your leadership team learn to operate from an awareness of their own personal motives. You’ll also know your team members on a more personal level. As a result of understanding each other’s authentic motivations, you will work from a place of wanting to succeed as a team rather than from a mere sense of obligation.

TurningWest – Your Guide to a healthy culture with meaningful results.

Suggested Resource: Imposter Syndrome


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