(Guest Post by Riley Jensen)

When it comes to sales, it seems that there are a myriad of folks willing to tell you how to stay motivated. It seems that bonus money, sales trips, and gifts are the common motivators that are often given as motivators in today’s work place. 

Motivation is always a subject when it comes to leaders. How do we motivate Tommy, Lisa, and Johnny to perform better? How can we get these people to perform to their maximum ability? It is often a frustrating and difficult conversation for leadership. 

The word motivation comes from the Latin word “motivus” which  means “to move.” Motivation is a prime influencer of human behavior. Studies show that when someone is demotivated, it can mean a reduction of 25-50% in production.

Fair enough. 

Although today’s leaders are interested in motivation, they seem to continue to miss the mark. Money, trips, and gifts miss the mark because they are extrinsic in nature. And in fact, extrinsic motivators can be demotivating when checkpoints are missed. For example, a person who is trying to run a marathon in order to lose weight and be healthy, will be demotivated if they fail to run a marathon. Which, in the long term, doesn’t help them to reach their original goals of losing weight and being healthy. If a sales goal is missed, it can be demotivating. In fact, sometimes it can be debilitating. When checkpoints are missed, and you know you won’t get a bonus, for many, it can be a challenge to put in the work necessary. 

Chipping Granite

A man came across three masons who were working at chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. The first man seemed unhappy at his job, chipping away and frequently looking at his watch. When the man asked what it was that he was doing, the first mason responded, rather quickly, “I’m hammering this stupid rock, and I can’t wait until 5 o’clock when I can go home. 

A second mason was seemingly more interested in his work. He was hammering diligently and when he was asked what it was that he was doing, answered, “Well, I’m molding this block of rock so it can be used with others to construct a wall. It’s not bad work, but I’ll sure be glad when it’s done.

A third mason was hammering at his block fervently taking time to stand back and admire his work from time to time. He chipped off small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was questioned about his work he stopped, gazed skyward and said, “I am building a Cathedral.”

So what’s the answer? How do we motivate a group of people? How do we motivate ourselves?

The answer is found intrinsically.

Intrinsic motivation is often overused and under explained in today’s workplace. We talk about these terms all the time, but never really explain them. Often times, intrinsic motivation is determined by asking ourselves the question, why? Why do I do what I do? What am I trying to accomplish? How am I going to achieve it? I love questions. All the greats that I work with ask great questions. Do you? 

Although questions are a great start. And they can be incredibly helpful. I would love to give you a little cheat sheet today. I would like to give you a little peak into the psychology of motivation. Today, I would like give you the three friends of motivation. The three friends to your personal motivation are autonomy (I choose), competence (I can), and social support (I belong).  

Is it your choice to be where you are? Or are you doing your job simply because you have to in order to make ends meet? My guess is that if you are forced to be where you are, you won’t ever be fully motivated. And as a result, you won’t ever produce the way that you are hoping to. There is great power in choosing your work. Autonomy is a friend to your motivation. It can help you to be resilient when the job gets tough. 

Are you competent in your job? Do you have enough success in your life and in your experience to know deep within you that you are competent enough to do the job that is asked of you? This should be an answer that comes fairly quickly. If you don’t feel competent in your job, are you asking for help? It takes humility and vulnerability to ask for help. The good news is that most people are willing to help you if you ask. Think about it, when is the last time you asked someone for help and they said no? When is the last time you told someone no? My guess is that it doesn’t happen very often. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It can be a friend to your motivation and a friend to your success. 

And finally, let’s speak to social support. If you think about it, the great one’s know how important it is to have a great team around them. They don’t act like lone wolves. They don’t think that they are doing this by themselves. They build great teams around them. If you don’t have a great team around you, it’s completely with in your control to build one. Start today. Start small. Start with nervous hands. But start. Your performance and motivation is counting on you having good people around you to encourage you, pick you up when you fail, and guide your through the rapids of life. You got this!

Tiger Woods is a perfect example of this. Last year in the 2019 Masters golf tournament, he won his first major tournament in a significant amount of time. While celebrating, he didn’t scream out “I did it, I did it!” He screamed and celebrated with his caddy by saying, “We did it! We did it!”. (see :35s mark in this clip below)

Regardless of how you feel about Tiger, or his antics in the past, it is refreshing to see someone who has been through adversity recognize that it takes a team. He plays one of the most individual sports around, and he was still able to recognize that it takes a team to win. It takes a team to be successful. 

Motivation is overrated?

Finally, I would like to talk about one last aspect of motivation. In the sport psychology world, science is beginning to show that motivation is overrated. We believe that motivation is a feeling, not necessarily a static trait. If motivation is a feeling, how can we possibly be motivated all the time? We can’t. Motivation is like feelings of happiness, sadness, frustration, disappointment, and excitement. These feelings tend to come and go. It is important to recognize them when they are present, but we certainly can’t expect them to be with us all the time. 

In the world of sport psychology we used to really focus on trying to get everyone in the “zone” or into “flow.” There are thousands of books and articles on this subject. As we have continued to study it, we have realized a couple of things. One, we know all the factors and considerations necessary to get into the zone. Two, we know what it feels like to be in the zone. It’s almost an out of body experience where things slow down and we perform at a high level. We have spoken to thousands of high performance athletes about the subject. However, there is one thing we don’t know, how to bridge the gap into flow. We don’t know how to ignite the “zone” or “flow.” So what is the answer? How do we help athletes to perform at the highest level possible without being in the zone? It comes back to effort. 

Are you so bad of an athlete/salesman/performer that you can’t win unless conditions are perfect? No. That’s fake news! Conditions don’t have to be perfect to win. Don’t let your negativity bias (we all have it) win out! There are plenty of times you have performed really well with your B, C, and D game. The key is to fight and scrap and claw your way with the feelings you are having today. If you are feeling 78% today when you go to work or the ball field, make sure you don’t use that as an excuse to give less than 100% effort. In essence, however you feel today, give your best effort. Some of you may be at 53% today. Some of you may be at 28%. Wherever you are, give 100% of that 53%. As you do so, you will see the results take care of themselves. You won’t have to be perfect to win. And you certainly don’t have to have perfect conditions to produce maximum results. Today, instead of focusing on motivation, make sure that you focus on commitment. Commit to being the best you can be regardless of how you feel. Commitment shows up long after motivation is gone. 

About the author:

Riley Jensen is currently a mental performance coach for Weber State University Athletics, various Ski Teams, and for the Utah Jazz Ticket Sales organization. He is available for corporate, team, and individual sessions. You can find more information about Riley at www.rileyjensenconsulting.com. You can find him on Twitter: @rileyjensen, Instagram:@rileyjensenconsulting, and Facebook, Riley Jensen Consulting. You can also listen to his podcast here: Riley Jensen, Mindset Matters Podcast