There is a kinship with purpose and intrinsic motivation which merits looking into if you haven’t already. You might want to check out what e.g. Frank Martela has to say about it: “Intrinsic motivation is needed to genuinely excite the employee of his/her job and to his/her utmost”
Intoxicating intrinsic motivation
Often a night, a fellow bilot is wide awake making sure that a customer’s system go-live runs smoothly. This is common practice in IT, and just recently again, a colleague stepped up and spent an unplanned ‘nuit-blanche’ because the customer’s ‘trusted advisor’ choked. It is not the occupational heroism that turns me on, it is the attitude and professionalism and intrinsic motivation which is so intoxicating.
A perfectly justified modus operando could have been just to let it be and have the accountable party walk into the fan. That would have meant leaving the joint customer out to dry and perhaps waiting for the mayday call and then rescuing the situation and finally getting praised. That would been the demeanor of someone who is extrinsically motivated.
“Motivation is about how to move oneself and others to act”
Intrinsic motivation is not a rare driver in people, quite the opposite. Intrinsic motivation is also rewarding but the reward is on an internal positive emotional level. As a very elementary and primal reward, any activity which generates a sensation of joy and fulfillment means intrinsic motivation is involved. In a professional context, such rewards are often sense of purpose and meaning, sense of progress and sense of competence.
Intrinsic motivation is nuclear energy
It is important to understand the differences of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and their association with purpose. Based on years of employee satisfaction survey data, we know that working on the latest technologies, cracking the toughest nuts and learning in the coolest projects is what drives our experts’. Being recognized and praised builds into the overall satisfaction, but the intrinsic motivation is the nuclear energy that helps get through the less rewarding patches.
At the helm of a growing expert organization, I often find myself in awe with these demonstrations of intrinsically motivated people. They are the essence of standing for more. There is a lot of bending backwards to getting things done, burning the midnight oil learning new stuff or safeguarding the customer or putting aside ones’ own work to help a fellow bilot out of the rut.
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