Finding Intrinsic Motivation in Strengths
What is Motivation?
Motivation is what gets you moving and lights your fire. It is the spark, the desire to act. When you look at the goals you want to accomplish and the places you want to go, you need motivation to get you to achieve them.
Motivation comes from a variety of places and it is unique to each person. For one, you may be motivated by money or the status a certain activity will give to you. For another, you may be motivated by relationships and the people around you. For others, it may be a cause or issue that you relate to, something that you feel needs to be solved in the world. These are some great examples of possible motivation, but we can go a bit further.
Motivation comes from extrinsic (external) and intrinsic (internal) sources. Like many of the examples above, we typically think of motivation from an external viewpoint. We look at the extrinsic motivations because they are easy to recognize and can easy to identify with goals.
Consider money as a motivator. If you are someone who is motivated by money, it becomes fairly simple to match up your activities to those that produce the best chance of earning more money. You know the jobs and careers that will line up best with this motivation because they can be tied to how much income they provide.
Here’s the challenge – not everything you do can be done for money. Not only that, but there are many activities that are in money-making jobs that are still hard to get motivated to do. Tapping into other extrinsic motivators may help relieve some of this struggle, but there is another way to get motivated.
Intrinsic motivations come from your own identify and thoughts, from who you are as a person. This means that your values can work as great motivators along with your particular passions and sense of self. When you look inside yourself, to what you believe is most important, you will find pieces that tug and pull you to action. These are your internal motivators.
How are Strengths Motivators?
Strengths work in a powerful way by combining intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. They bridge the gap between what you love and are good at to the external goals and realities you seek to find.
GALLUP® has done some great work over the years in identifying Strengths as well as connecting these Strengths to motivations. As a Strengths Coach, I have personally used and witnessed the power that Strengths can have as motivators.
Here’s how it works.
Our strengths represent the areas of talent in our lives we have invested in. They are the natural ways of thinking, behaving, and feeling that guide our life. This all makes sense when we talk about motivation because the things we love to do tend to be the things we are good at. When we are good at something, it feels more rewarding to take part in the activity or practice the skill. There are always exceptions, but we love to practice our strengths.
According to Gallup, people who have the opportunity to use their Strengths are six times more likely to be engaged in their jobs, six times as likely to feel they get to do what they do best every day, and are three times as likely to report an excellent quality of life.
These are important statistics as they demonstrate the value of using Strengths in your daily life. More importantly for this discussion, they reveal some important truths about motivation. When we are motivated to do something, our engagement and enjoyment of the activity goes up. Using Strengths allows for the same results by tapping into the motivational nature of doing what you do best. In essence, your strength in doing something is birthed in the same place as your motivation.
How to Apply Strengths Motivations
Your strengths are your own and they go beyond Clifton Strengths. All you need to do is simply look back at your moments of success and achievement to identify some of your places of greatest strength. Take the Clifton Strengths assessment and get a research-backed report on what your Strengths are and how to apply them. Best of all, talk to a coach about getting coached around your Strengths and developing them for you and your team.
But I want to get you started on this now, to begin using your strengths as motivations by the time you’re done reading so you can get to greater productivity.
How to Use Strengths as Motivators
1) Identify your Strengths
This is the natural first step but is all too often skipped over. Take some time to really break down and identify what you are really good at. This doesn’t mean that you are better than everyone else in the world, it just means that you have a genuine skill. What is it?
Look at your past experiences, the places where you have been thriving or even show glimmers of talent. Pay attention to themes and patterns where you can see your true underlying strengths showing through.
2) Identify your Lens
Every strength we have provides us with a particular lens. We see the world through our strengths by using our natural tendencies to filter our preferences.
Let’s use an example. If you are someone who is efficient (maybe has the Achiever strength) and you love crossing things off your list, you may see the world as a giant to-do list. This is your lens. Maybe you are great at connecting emotionally with others (maybe have the Empathy strength). Your lens is emotions and how you connect to people through them. Identify whatever your lens might be based on your strengths.
How does what I am good at impact how I see the world?
3) Use your Lens to Filter your Work
When you look at your task list, at the duties and responsibilities that make up your work and life, apply your newly found strengths lens. Oftentimes, our most difficult and demotivating work will have little to do with our strengths.
When you apply your lens, look for ways that you can add your unique style to this work. If you hate filling out reports and love connecting through emotions, identify ways that you could connect that work to your emotional connection. This takes a bit of creativity but there is almost always a way if you simply give this your time and effort.
4) Create Intentional Reminders
It’s great to do all of this as a reflective activity. The problem is that like most reflection, it can be left in the past without much application to your present. Create some reminders, even sticky notes on your desk or a calendar reminder before your least favorite work. Find ways to connect your strengths lens to where you are lacking motivation and design a system that brings up that reminder when you get frustrated and demotivated.
Using strengths as a motivational tool can not only bring greater excitement and energy to your work, it can improve your performance in the process. The best part is that these are already a part of you. Each of us has their own strengths and ways of using them to see the world. When we begin to harness these, we find new ways to get motivated and develop our strengths along the way. It creates a virtuous cycle that, when you start it today, will lead you toward greater productivity, engagement, and living out your best life.
The best thing to do now is to get to work on the four steps we just walked through above. If you are having trouble with this, want to supercharge your process, or want to look at how this could be done on your team, reach out to me with your questions. Leave them in the comments or ask about my individual and team coaching on Strengths. Whatever your next steps, go out and be productive!
Improve Your Leadership Through Strengths