What motivates you?

August 21, 2010 at 2:48 pm 2 comments

Yesterday I was listening to a podcast from Sonia Simone (whom I love) and Chris Garrett for Third Tribe, and was really struck by their opening point.

Chris was talking about motivation, and how it’s really important to know what truly works as your driving force.  He used an example that I’ve heard a few times now, about people claiming that they want a million dollars.  But really no one’s motivated by simply obtaining the money.  What they really want is something that they can get with the money, whether it’s a yacht or the security you get from knowing you can easily pay off your mortgage (or your water bill).

I’ve long been convinced that this makes perfect sense.

However, they went on to discuss the two types of people, people who like Sarah Palin and people who do not.  Oh wait, that wasn’t it.  It was “Towards People” and “Away From People.”

“Towards People” are motivated by a goal.  They’re often competitive with themselves and/or with others.  They want to beat their best time/profit/friend.

“Away From People,” on the other hand, are motivated by avoidance.  They don’t want to screw up or let people down.  They worry about not being able to pay their bills or support their family.  That’s their motivation.

As I was listening to their descriptions, I thought, “oh shit.”  I’m obviously an “Away From Person.”  When I was teaching I was motivated by not boring my students, by not upsetting their parents, by not wanting to feel like a failure.  That’s what motivated me to come up with creative lesson plans.  That’s why I dreaded parent phone calls.  And that’s why I worked stupidly long hours.  I rarely thought about just wanting to be the best teacher, or even the best teacher I could be.  And I can easily think of five (great) teachers who are quite obviously “Towards People.”

Even for this blog, I’m motivated to post by not looking like a quitter, even though sometimes I think I’ve taken on too much for me to handle.

Clearly Sonia and Chris were about to explain how to transform yourself from into a “Towards Person” if you weren’t naturally blessed in that regard.  I haven’t checked, but I imagine there are plenty of self-help seminars on this topic.

But as usual, I was wrong.  It turned out that both Sonia and Chris are “Away From People.”  And they’re both very successful.  Very.

Apparently both types have strengths and weaknesses.  They talked about the benefits of partnering with someone complimentary, but really it’s just most important to understand how you work.  Anyways, it was a really interesting podcast, and it made me feel better about myself in the business world.  I’m not automatically screwed by my motivation-type.  Phew!

What about you?  Are you a “Towards Person” or an “Away From Person”?  How do you know?


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Eric  |  August 21, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Based on those brief descriptions, I’d say I’m a “Towards Person.” I would like to know more about the two types, though, before pegging myself. Nice writeup! I think it makes sense. Perhaps we can listen to it on our way to yet another wedding in a few minutes!

  • 2. Kara  |  August 25, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Aaron and I are both “Away From.” We act to avoid disappointing others. We often disappoint ourselves. 🙂


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