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  • Denis Boucher

Motivation: why its fundamental nature is so misunderstood

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

by Denis Boucher, Ph.D.

Maybe like me, you went to a motivation lecture, where you had to clap your hands, dance, and shout your desire for success out loud. The kind of "Go! Go! Go! You can do it. You're the best" we often hear in sports.

It's like teaching that motivation results from a constant hyperactive state. It always brings me back to this question: "So, I can't be motivated when I'm calm?"

I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but it's not my cup of tea. Motivation is more than this hyperactive state and is not necessarily related to it. So, I believe the fundamental nature of motivation is misunderstood.

I think investigating its real nature leads us to a more concrete utilization of its incredible power.
Then where do we start? Why not with its definition? So, motivation is the belief in our capacity to reach a goal.

No matter how small or big the goal is. It always comes back to that belief. To dig a little deeper, we now need to ask ourselves what this belief is.
It goes like this. Because I want to reach a goal, I immediately start to measure the gap between where I think I am m and where I want to be. From that point, I will constantly ask myself these two questions:

  1. Do I possess the resources to reach that goal?

  2. Am I progressing towards that goal?


Resources refer to the knowledge I need to acquire, the training I must do, or the steps to follow to progress towards the goal. If I don't have the proper knowledge or training, I won't feel like I possess the resources to succeed.

Maybe I've gone through the proper training. But, if the strategy or the steps I'm following pull me away from my goal, it will kill my motivation. Furthermore, if I don't understand soon enough that the strategy I use has become the problem, there's a chance that I feel helpless instead of motivated.

Am I progressing towards that goal? This question is the tricky part. Even though the data show that I'm going towards my goal, if I perceive, feel, or think I'm moving away from it, perception and negative emotions will always win.

In a resume, motivation results from knowledge, training, strategy, and perception.

Bringing myself into a hyperactive state won't help me if I don't have the necessary knowledge, don't have the proper training, and don't follow the correct steps to reach my goal.

Worst of all. If I have all the knowledge necessary, I'm perfectly trained, the steps to reach my goal are well defined, and data show I'm doing great, but I feel like moving away from the objective, the fear of failure will kill my motivation. Perception always wins over facts.

On the other hand, I have the knowledge. I'm perfectly trained. The path to success is clear, and if I focus on the data that shows I'm progressing towards my goal, my motivation will be at its peak. All this without the necessity to be in a hyperactive state.

Motivation is not just about shouting that we're motivated.

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