When people hear you’ve written a book that’s selling around the world, the first question I often hear is “So what’s the biggest fear you see?” Even as I write this, I find it’s hard to hone in on one over all fear. However as a coach, I think one of my most important jobs is to help people build confidence. And the opposite of confidence is fear.
To which many will tell me “I have no fear in my life!” and yet when they read the book, they’re surprised by the hidden fears that lurk in their subconscious attacking their success. Not all fears wake you in the middle of the night covered in sweat and fearful for your life. Some are hidden and are the underlying causes of a lack of self confidence and a lack of self belief is often hiding in a fear that wishes to stay a stalker in your mind.
Ever noticed how you are awesome at something and yet pause when asked to do something new related to it?
Found yourself keeping quiet on an idea for fear of what people might think?
Have a burning ambition that you never seem to get around to?
Always one more job that needs to be done before you can send in that article or report or launch that website or share your ground breaking ideas?
That could be a hidden lurker of a fear called arrogance.
We all know someone that is highly confident and seems to float around the room at parties or business events with pizzazz, natural charm and laughter and everyone knows who they are and wants to chat with them. Bet that person doesn’t fear arrogance right?
On the contrary they are just as likely to have their own internal automatic thought processes that are impacting on the actions and feelings, but they’ve learned the power of feeling confident and purveying that. That may not have had to think about it a great deal, however they will do things either automatically or with practice that enables them to feel confident.
I speak from experience here, I had the social ineptitude of a burnt sausage at social gatherings, always managing to say just the wrong thing and then not being able to stop myself from talking, sounding like the nearest thing to perpetual motion and yet still jabbering on, because my internal dialogue has gone into hyperdrive as I panic about what that person thinks of me, “oh no I didn’t mean that, what must they think!” I’d keep talking in an attempt to dig myself out of a conversation catastrophe. This didn’t just happen in social situations, I did it when I started networking too. And that meant the drive home could be a journey of hell as my mind replayed every conversation and convinced me that I was the worse human on the planet.
Arrogance Is a Thief of Confidence
Guess what this does to your confidence? To your ability to feel comfortable in any situation? Guess what it does to the way you feel, and if you feel negative, what does that do to your thoughts and actions? You’ve guessed it we are less likely to achieve what we wish to because our internal voices and beliefs have gone into automatic pilot and are intent on keeping us stuck in a loop that results in only ever the same level of success and nothing better.
So if you feel you lack confidence, if you find you speak too much or never share what you are actually thinking, or if you find your big dreams are remaining dreams and are still no nearer to reality; perhaps it’s time to check your attitude to arrogance.
You see I can remember looking at other people in the room and thinking why can’t I be that person with the pizzazz and the natural style? Why can’t I be confident and relaxed? And the first thing I did was realize the internal conversation that I was replaying was one that said things like: they are better than you; they’ve been in the industry for years, what could you possibly have to add of benefit?
You are just a girl who leaves the men to the real conversations. (Yes a ridiculous thought to have, especially since I believe that we are capable of achieving anything we truly wish to and I’d been one of the UK’s youngest automotive body shop managers and learned so much as a young woman in the car industry! But hey I’m being honest here, because honesty with you could help you find the strength to be honest with yourself.)
The point is (not just to share really personal and unhelpful thoughts that I used to have!) that the thoughts that are allowed to run in our minds can impact on our actions and that then impacts on our results. Thus, the awesome thing is (that I love about coaching for its speed!) that if you want to get better results you need to change your thoughts.
Take Control of Your Automatic Thoughts
First of all, become aware of the automatic thought patterns you slip into. When you notice them depends on what works for you. What I call the science of being you will depend on the best way for you to deal with it.
For example, if you are a person who is told to quit caffeine for your health, are you the kind of person that stops from that moment on? Or are you the person that limits intake day by day to get to your goal? Do you like an app that keeps you motivated? Are you the kind of person that researches alternatives and the best way to go cold turkey on caffeine or are you someone that proclaims, “Why me” and does their best to hide in denial until the next doctor’s appointment?
The reason you need to consider the caffeine question is that it will help you understand the science of being you and your natural way of dealing with things. For me it’s all or nothing. So when I decided to deal with my fear of arrogance, I used the next tip. And to do that I had to appreciate what the automatic thoughts were. For me I went with the 1,2,3 approach:
- Become aware of the automatic thoughts that you allow to run in your mind.
- Stop the mid thought.
- Choose a new, more motivating and positive thought to have instead.
Ideally you should do each step for one week before adding the next step to ensure mastery and not a half-hearted attempt at change.
Think of the person that seems to ooze confidence, success and happiness. How do they act? What do they say? How much do they listen? How do they stand? Where do they go? What do they talk about on social media? Sometimes noticing the traits of those that you admire can help you act more like them.
This is not about a broadway performance. However, it is about noticing how it makes you feel. It may not work for everyone. But for those that it helps, it can help fast. And before long the act becomes the reality.
One of the reasons we don’t showcase our true potential is because we are scared about what people will think and how they will perceive us. As humans, we are by nature a social animal wanting others around us. And thus we work hard to be accepted and liked.
One of the quickest ways to be liked is to be you. The irony being that people hide who they are for fear of rejection. Learn to accept who you are and then people will automatically do the same for you too. People accept the perception of reality that you bring to them. Act scared in front of an audience? Your audience will look nervous. Smile as you walk into a party? People will smile back. Accept that you are good enough right now today.
Following on from accepting you by listening to what you think people are thinking about you can start to process the truth. When I’ve asked a audience to tell me what they are thinking at that time, rarely have they been thinking about me. It is our ego that tells us that people are talking about us, or don’t like us. When the audience replies, it tends to be things like “I wondered what to cook for tea.” Or “Will I get stuck in traffic again tonight.” Or “I wish I’d not worn these shoes, they aren’t as comfortable as I thought they were!” This is a great way of showcasing to people with a fear of public speaking that our greatest fears are usually not even in existence!
I often find that the clients I’m working with are, if not nationally recognized for their industry or hobby, it’s internationally appreciated, and yet still they enable a nagging inferior complex to stop them from getting their true results.
I remember a client recently who I repeated to them “So can I just clarify that you are one of the best in the UK and on the international panel for this profession, and you are asking me if you are good enough for X?” It was in this reframing they were able to see it was daft to even suggest that they may not be impeccably qualified and perfect for the job.
Look at the areas in your life where you wish you had more client and if you have top tip number 1, you will have become aware of the automatic thoughts that you let run riot in your mind. What evidence do you have for these beliefs? Quite often our minds know the truth and yet don’t let our hearts appreciate how awesome we are. Make a list of the facts that help you reshape your facts to help you appreciate what you are really capable and why you’ve every right to have confidence in this area of your life.
Motivation is one of the main reasons we do things — take an action, go to work (and sometimes overwork ourselves), create goals, exercise our willpower. There are two main, universally agreed upon types of motivation — intrinsic motivation (also known as internal motivation) and extrinsic motivation (external motivation).
The intrinsic kind is, by inference, when you do something because it’s internally fulfilling, interesting or enjoyable — without an expectation of a reward or recognition from others. Extrinsic motivation is driven by exactly the opposite — externalities, such as the promise of more money, a good grade, positive feedback, or a promotion.
And of course, we all know about the big debate about money. It’s surely an external driver, but is it possible that it can sometimes make us enjoy what we do more? A meta-analysis that reviewed 120 years of research found a weak link between job satisfaction and money.
And what’s more — there is some evidence to suggest that more money can actually have an adverse effect on your intrinsic motivation.
Regardless of its type, motivation is still important to get you moving, to improve, excel, and put that extra effort when you feel like you don’t have a single drop of energy left to keep going.
So, let’s see some of the best things you can do to keep the fire going, even when you’d rather just indulge in pleasant idleness.
Table of Contents
Why Intrinsic Motivation Tops Extrinsic Motivation
“To be motivated means to be moved to do something.”
Generally speaking, we all need motivation.
An avalanche of research, though, shows that when it comes to finding the lasting drive to “do something,” internal incentives are much more powerful than extrinsic rewards.
Why? It’s simple.
There is a great difference when you engage in something because “I want to,” as opposed to “I must.” Just think about the most obvious example there is: work.
If you go to work every day, dragging your feet and dreading the day ahead of you, how much enjoyment will you get from your job? What about productivity and results? Quality of work?
Yep, that’s right, you definitely won’t be topping the Employee of the Month list anytime soon.
The thing with external motivation is that it doesn’t last. It’s susceptible to something psychologists call Hedonic Adaptation. It’s a fancy way of saying that external rewards are not a sustainable source of happiness and satisfaction.
When you put in 100-hour weeks in order to get promoted, and you finally are, how long does your “high” last? The walking-on-a-cloud feelings wear off quickly, research tells us, making you want more. Therefore, you are stuck on a never-ending “hedonic treadmill,” i.e. you can progressively only become motivated by bigger and shinier things, just to find out that they don’t bring you the satisfaction you hoped for, when you finally get them.
Or, as the journalist and author Oliver Burkeman wonderfully puts it:
“Write every day” won’t work unless you want to write. And no exercise regime will last long if you don’t at least slightly enjoy what you’re doing.
If you want to find out more about the different types of motivation, take a look at this article: 9 Types of Motivation That Make It Possible to Reach Your Dreams
Benefits of Intrinsic Motivation
If you are still unconvinced that doing things solely for kudos and brownie points is not going to keep you going forever, nor make you like what you do, here is some additional proof:
Studies tell us that intrinsic motivation is a generally stronger predictor of job performance over the long run than extrinsic motivation.
One reason is that when we are internally driven to do something, we do it simply for the enjoyment of the activity. So, we keep going, day in and out, because we feel inspired, driven, happy, and satisfied with ourselves.
Another reason has to do with the fact that increasing intrinsic motivation is intertwined with things such as higher purpose, contributing to a cause, or doing things for the sake of something bigger than ourselves or our own benefit. A famous study done by the organizational psychologist Adam Grant is case in point.
By showing university fundraisers how the money donated by alumni can help financially struggling students to graduate from college, their productivity increased by 400% a week! The callers also showed an average increase of 142% in time spent on the phone and 171% increase in money raised.
Internal motivation has been found to be very helpful when it comes to academia, too. Research confirms that the use of external motivators, such as praise, undermine students’ internal motivation, and, in the long-run, it results in “slower acquisition of skills and more errors in the learning process.”
In contrast, when children are internally driven, they are more involved in the task at hand, enjoy it more, and intentionally seek out challenges.
Therefore, all the research seems to allude to one major revelation: intrinsic motivation is a must-have if you want to save yourself the drudgery we all sometimes feel when contemplating the things we should do or must do.
6 Ways to Enhance Your Intrinsic Motivation
So, how does one get more of the good stuff — that is, how do you become internally motivated?
There are many things you can do to become more driven. Here are the ones that top the list.
The theory of self-efficacy was developed by the American-Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura in 1982. Efficacy is our own belief in whether we can achieve the goals we set for ourselves. In other words, it’s whether we think we “got what it takes” to be successful at what we do.
It’s not hard to see the link of self-efficacy to higher self-esteem, better performance, and, of course, enhanced motivation. People with high self-efficacy are more likely to put extra effort in what they do, to self-set more challenging goals, and be more driven to improve their skills.
Therefore, the belief that we can accomplish something serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy — it motivates us to try harder to prove to ourselves that we can do it.
You can learn more about self-efficacy in this article: What Is Self Efficacy and How to Improve Yours
2. Link Your Actions to a Greater Purpose
Finding your “why” in life is incredibly important. This means that you need to be clear with yourself on why you do what you do and what drives you. What is intrinsically rewarding for you?
And no matter how mundane a task may be, it can always be linked to something bigger and better. Psychologists call this “reframing your narrative.”
Remember the famous story of John F. Kennedy visiting NASA in 1961? As it goes, he met a janitor there and asked him what he did at NASA. The answer was:
“I’m helping to put a man on the Moon.”
Inspirational, isn’t it?
Re-phrasing how your actions can help others and leave a mark in the universe can be a powerful driver and a meaning-creator.
Volunteering is a great way to give back to the world. It can also help boost your internal motivation by making you feel important in supporting the less fortunate, learning new skills, feeling good about yourself, or linking to some of your inner values, such as kindness and humanitarianism.
When you remove any external reward expectations and do something for the pure joy and fulfilment of improving others’ lives, then you are truly intrinsically motivated.
4. Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Like It” to Do Something
A great piece in the Harvard Business Review points out that when we say things as “I can’t make myself go to the gym” or “I can’t get up early,” what we actually mean is that we don’t feel like it. There is nothing that psychically prevents us from doing those things, apart from our laziness.
But here’s the thing: You don’t have to “feel like it” in order to take action.
Sometimes, it so happens that you may not want to do something in the beginning, but once you start, you get into the flow and find your intrinsic motivation.
For instance, you don’t feel like going to the gym after a long day at work. Rather than debating in your head for hours “for and against” it, just go. Tell yourself that you will think about it later. Once in the gym, surrounded by similar souls, you suddenly won’t fee that tired or uninspired.
Another way to overcome procrastination is to create routines and follow them. Once the habit sets in, suddenly getting up at 6 am for work or writing for an hour every day won’t be so dreadful.
5. Self-Determination, or the CAR Model (As I Call It)
The Self-Determination theory was created by two professors of psychology from the University of Rochester in the mid-80s—Richard Ryan and Edward Deci. The theory is one of the most popular ones in the field of motivation. It focuses on the different drivers behind our behavior—i.e. the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.
There are three main needs, the theory further states, that can help us meet our need for growth. These are also the things which Profs. Deci and Ryan believed to be the main ways to enhance our intrinsic motivation—Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness (CAR).
If our jobs allow us to learn and grow, and if we have enough autonomy to do things our way and be creative, then we will be more driven to give our best, and our performance will soar. In addition, as humans are social beings, we also need to feel connected to others and respected.
All of these sources of intrinsic motivation, separately and in combination, can become powerful instigators to keep us thriving, even when we feel uninspired and unmotivated .
6. Tap Into a Deeper Reason
Some interesting research done in 2016 sought answers to how high-performing employees remain driven when their company can’t or won’t engage in ways to motivate them—intrinsically or extrinsically.
The study tracked workers in a Mexican factory, where they did exactly the same tasks every day, with virtually zero chances for learning new skills, developing professionally, or being promoted. Everyone was paid the same, regardless of performance. So there was no extrinsic motivation at all, other than keeping one’s job.
A third kind of motivation was then discovered, which scientists called “family motivation.” Workers who agreed more with statements such as “I care about supporting my family” or “It is important for me to do good for my family” were more energized and performed better, although they didn’t have any additional external or internal incentive to do so.
The great thing about this kind of driver is that it’s independent of the company one works for or the situation. It taps into something even deeper—if you don’t want to do something for your own sake, then do it for the people you care for.
And this is a powerful motive, as many can probably attest to this.
Frederick Herzberg, the American psychologist who developed what’s perhaps still today the most famous theory of motivation, in his renowned article from 1968 (which sold a modest 1.2 million reprints and it the most requested article from Harvard Business Review One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees? wrote:
“If I kick my dog, he will move. And when I want him to move again, what must I do? I must kick him again. Similarly, I can charge a person’s battery, and then recharge it, and recharge it again. But it is only when one has a generator of one’s own that we can talk about motivation. One then needs no outside stimulation. One wants to do it.”
Herzberg further explains that the so-called “hygiene factors” (salary, job security, benefits, vacation time, work conditions) don’t lead to fulfillment, nor motivation. What does, though, are the “motivators”—challenging work, opportunities for growth, achievement, greater responsibility, recognition, the work itself.
Herzberg realized it long ago…intrinsic motivation tips the scales when it comes to finding long-term happiness and satisfaction in everything we do, and to improving our overall well-being.
In the end, the next time when you need to give yourself a bit of a kick to get something done, remember to link it to a goal bigger than yourself, and preferably one that has non-material benefit.
And no, don’t say that you tried but it’s just impossible to find internal motivation. Remember the janitor at NASA?
Because once you find your internal generator, you will be truly unstoppable.