Conundrums of Motivation


You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. The idiom is classic and its accuracy profound. By what method can one make another do an action? For what purpose does one choose to activate the mind? As an instructor, this challenge of motivation remains the ever-impossible problem to solve. Can the motivational riddle be solved?

Many have tried: incentives such as food and cash have been attempted with diminishing returns. Are external motivators more powerful? The avoidance of the threat certainly works for students whose parents directly influence their performance in school. But are these techniques effective in developing life long learners?

Unfortunately the problem of motivation (seemingly its deficiency and not its excess) has existed forever. For what purpose should I do this thing? The “I” remains the factor. Only when it matters does the individual act. Is it culture that determines the value of an action? Fear might play a part and likewise motivations and the avoidance of punishment. And yet for educators around the world what legitimate action can be taken to inspire another to act. One can only do so much and ultimately the student and his or her cognition remain the single driving force between inaction and the action.

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  1. April 1, 2015 at 4:08 PM

    I think if someone becomes a motivational speaker or a success coach, they should be committed to pushing people to get past the fallacy that life is handed to us instead of decided by us. When people have that realization, it does, for all intents and purposes, force them to act. Getting to that point is difficult, but I think repetition is key for that.

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