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Three Kinds of Motivation – and which works best

We eat food everyday. What kind of food you eat directly impacts how you experience your day and ultimately your life. Motivation is like food, and the kind you use to fuel you also impacts each day and your overall life.

Food as Fuel 

There are many kinds of food, but just to make our point let’s look at three kinds.

  • Average food
  • Healthy food
  • Indulgent food

What you eat determines your enjoyment (while eating and afterwards) and also your energy level in any given day and over a longer period of time.

In a similar way, there are three kinds of motivation:

  • External rewards
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Value motivation
You can think of motivation as what fuels you; what gets you going and keeps you going!
A blue field with the words "3 Kinds of Motivation" in white lettering and additional single words in black lettering for "Intrinsic", "External" and "Value"

Three Kinds of Motivation

Maybe you heard about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Something is intrinsically motivating if doing the activity is its own reward or you enjoy doing something for the sake of doing it. Extrinsic or external motivation is more goal oriented: you get your reward outside of or after the activity.

At Leadskill we have personal and organizational assessments that allow us to measure these types of motivation. The Driving Forces assessment details the extrinsic or external motivators of an individual or an organization.  We can measure the intensity and development of intrinsic motivation using the EQ assessment.

Are there other types of motivation? Sure, just like there are many different kinds of food. You could be motivated by guilt or shame (introjected is the technical term), but we’ll leave that to the side for now.

You can also find motivation because of a higher value (not guilt, shame or fear) that doesn’t reward you but which you see as beneficial. Volunteering at an Earth day event could be one example (there may be no personal benefit in it for you). Attending a religious service out of conviction but not for personal enjoyment or out of guilt, shame or pressure is another. Call it value motivation. It can be powerful even if it’s less common.

We can measure value motivation partly through some driving forces and also through using the science of acumen.

Which Type of Motivation is Best?

Just like the question “Which kind of food is best?” has more than one answer, the same goes for motivation. Intrinsic motivation is very personally satisfying. External motivation may be the only thing that gets a specific job done. Value motivation elevates what you do.

The bottom line is that the best motivation is the one that helps you get worthwhile things done.

Ready to have a conversation with us about motivators and how they impact your leadership or your organization? Reach out to us–we welcome the opportunity to explore your interest and see how we can help.

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