The word motivation conjures in mind a reaction that is done to seek an incentive. At least in its everyday usage, the word motivate, indicates some kind of inducement, to act or perform a task or job.
This piece shall not rely upon the many external stimuli’s available and deployed by corporate managers to motivate staff to either excel in performance or achieve their budgets. The spectrum of visible and tangible motivating factors has many dimensions and manifestations. These range from monetary incentives, to promotions and pre-paid overseas holidays.
There would instead be focus on motivation that is, self-inspired; from within the individual to strive, progress and succeed.
Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration. The quality and quantity of work drives the individual. Inspiration is a mirror of our secret desires. Motivation, marinated over time by an assiduous study of personal preferences of what the given life is to be made of, is the art of instinctual inspiration.
From the very days of childhood, we all experience the need for performance to prove mostly to ‘others’ and little to ‘self’. The positioning we take in life is to ‘please others’. And this attitude in itself becomes the prime motivator and for a life time, in some cases. In my school years, I excelled in my class of ‘History and Geography’, primarily to please Bro Roberts, who was my favorite amongst the Brothers and Sisters, who taught us. A word of praise from Bro Robert is all that I desired, which in turn was my sole motivator! This was priceless.
If a person is driven to achieve acclaim, another may not be so desirous; brings to mind, the impelling question of what is it that goes to build our mental make-up? If some people are ambitious, they are so, for what reasons? And, some who are laid back, why are they reticent on having limelight? I believe, it all relates to the architectural build up of attitudes, that we are naturally blessed with; or these traits could be the consequence of a serious effort to imbibe attributes, that aren’t present within us, naturally. The process of building and taking ultimately to maturity our attitudes, begins in the most formative years; some psycho analysts, think, believe and have proven to themselves, that basic personality traits are engineered within the first, five to seven years of childhood. Yes! As early as that, each person begins to display, what he would most likely be, as adults!
The internal combustion of energy has to be kept positive and alive; the fire within has to be regularly ignited. If any is not satisfied with his personal or work-life, it only means that the basic of attitudes possessed need to be reinvented or recalibrated. If there is lack of enthusiasm, there is need to find and discover, what will cause all the cylinders to fire, within. There has to be ‘something’ that will compel an individual to emerge out of the state of inertia. Understanding our own and the teams pattern of thought and the reasons behind thereof, is critical, in the management of staff. Action is an imitation of inspiration; it leads to creativity. A piquant thought process blessed by Mother Nature must retain its original pro-activeness, to stimulate, impel and galvanise action.
Some managers, supervisors and colleagues are in quest of perfection. Their nature is uncompromising in most situations; they are die-hard perfectionists. Many of such are motivated by this single precept, that no matter what it takes, the job/assignment has to be delivered, with utmost perfection. It is also true, as readers may have experienced that perfectionists end up doing less than others, but the quality of their output is a class act. Yusuf Khan aka Dilip Kumar, the living legend of Bollywood at one time was the highest paid star / actor; but that wasn’t his motivation. Over years of acting, his unrelenting tilt towards seeking perfection, in every single character he played/ enacted, became his sole inspiration. For a single song that was to be picturised on him, playing the ‘sitar’ ; he spent months learning on how to play the instrument, to make it look real for the audience, albeit in the original music score, it was someone else, who actually played it. The consequence of perfection is that it takes toll on available time, and hence in a career spanning over seven decades, where he was Numero Uno actor, he has to his credit less than 75 movies. Compare this to our own Maula Jat, who possibly did a movie, a month! Quality over quantity, is always an option, for every manager.
Richard Nixon wrote, “too often the man of thought cannot act and the man of action does not think”. In history, I find numerous examples of those who were men of thought and men of action; they possibly subscribed fully to the French Philosopher, Henri Bergson dictum, “Act as men of thought. Think as men of action”.
The excess of stupidity in man is not the handiwork of nature; but the handiwork of its possessor. We all have in the midst of the organisation those who believe in winning at all cost! All costs? This is a highly debatable and questionable trait. If the means to win are not within the ambit of legality or within the confines of acceptable social standards, no end is justifiable. Hence winning or being successful in a pursuit regardless of cost, must only imply and relate to costs that are recognised in society as ‘noble costs’. The best example of noble cost, is self sacrifice, for the good of others, organisation or even country or cause.
A compromise on standards of integrity is ignoble, and in contrast, a compromise to reduce personal luxuries for the over-all good of society is an act of nobility.
It pains to realise that we as a nation have forgotten, Mr Jinnah’s remarks made a few weeks before his death to Dr Ilahi Buksh ”Rupees three for a pair of socks, that is expensive”. This is our founder. As Governor General of a new but poor nation, he believed, that it does not behove well for him to be wearing expensive socks. Here, the Quaids’s inspiring motivation was to create a just and egalitarian society. A deeper look into the lakes of desires and ambition would reveal the existence of opalescent, kaleidoscopic, glittering and sparkling colours of inspiration that once drawn upon, will most certainly enkindle the effort and pursuit of one’s objectives.
It is my observation that those managers who think and act are mostly of that unique category and class, who pride in their intellectual superiority of not seeking limelight or rewards, for the extra mile they go into producing remarkable results. They are mostly self-propelling and require no external stimuli to move into action from the plane of thought.
Again, it is my strongly held view that managers/leaders excel at their best capabilities, who dedicate themselves to reading; and reading voraciously. Robert Menzies, the longest serving ever Prime Minister, the Aussies had, once confided that he dedicated half hour each day and an hour each Saturday and Sunday to reading for pleasure. He wasn’t reading newspapers I am certain that would be extolling upon his brilliance as a great leader; he delved into reading history, philosophy, literature, etc. It is from this type of reading that he received inspiration, to become the great leader that he was. Few leaders/managers have in them a divine fire burning within that ushers feeling of being inspired to do acts beyond their call of requirement or demands of an office. A timeless paragraph of amazing sublimity that I came across read, “A God has his abode within our breast; when he raises us, the glow of inspiration warms us; this holy rapture springs from the divine mind sown in man”.
People who excel at people management are usually those who are self-inspired, and hence have the capability to stretch their minds, to expand their own horizons of thinking that lead to opening of new vistas of engagement with the market place, in terms of innovation, new products and services.
Internally sprouting fountains of inspiration create fresh inspired thoughts that perennially continue to demand increasingly more, from the inspired manger.
The writer is a banker and freelance contributor