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15 Dec

Sanaa AbdulRahiman

Associate Director



"A reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way."


Some are born with an innate sense of purpose and embody motivation. From their first day onward they know what they want to achieve and live by it.

Some are struck by lighting, some are blessed, some have been chosen by a higher power and some have ... talked to UFOs ...

[Note: There are plenty of books on that but I don't want to start a debate on religions or potential intelligent alien lifeforms ...]

Others like myself ask themselves sometimes what keeps us motivated and what is motivation and how it works anyway.

Such an interesting topic!



I don't know about you, but I am not really a fan of all those motivation books and pep talks I get relentlessly flooded by thousands of posts showing me new "hype" methods or ancient forgotten ways to motivate you and your team.

[Note: Anyone of you felt better after working on a bed of burning ashes?]

All those publications have catchy titles, very nice front pages but usually end up being boring or mere patchworks of other books.

[Note: And they ain't cheap!]

Though I read a couple of them, they seem to be no more than pseudoscience for the masses.

[Note: Sounds familiar ... Opium for the masses ... hum ... who said that? ...]

But they sell, generate heavy traffic, and therefore are an obvious proof that there is a huge need and market for motivation.

I looked up "motivation" on a couple of search engines and got:

Google 67,100,000 results
Yahoo 50,900,000 results
Bing 98,100,000 results

[Note: That is interesting in itself. Are people regularly using "Bing" seeking more motivation?]

Yep, motivation seems to have a widespread interest!



So to our main subject ...

Most of the publications we are exposed to actually have a common denominator and single explain-it-all model:

Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

This is a very simple, pragmatic and accurate model proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943 in which he breaks down our needs and motivations in 5 stages:

  • Physiological
  • Safety
  • Love/Belonging
  • Esteem
  • Self-Actualization

[Note: Yes, attachment theory is more recent, but business people are still mostly stuck on this one ...]

Here's the common representation of this model:

[Note: Yes, I prefer pictures. I am a visual thinker ...]


It is a model that goes both ways.

On the way up, your needs are more and more complex to satisfy differentheightened expectations.

To put it bluntly, if you have a place to sleep, food, water and a couple of other stuff (which we will not mention here), you achieve a first level of motivation which is purely issued from physiological needs.

[Note: I EAT THEREFORE ... I AM ! ... ahhhh? Descartes must be turning in his grave!]

If you miss one or more of them, your only motivation will be to get them.

You will certainly dream about the higher level but it will not be your first concern.

Quite down to earth but it is just pure bliss if you move upwards.

You start to get better and better, start to dream about those superficial goods (fashion, sport car, jewels), are motivated, happy and start to get detached from earthly issues.

Remember the first piece of chocolate you ever ate?
This wonderful feeling spreading through your mouth?
Some of you probably do ...

[Note: Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka ... la la la ... euh ...]

For those who don't, your first bike, your first cool mobile phone, your first cool car, the first thing that made you really proud of yourself.

This is what it feels when you are on the way up!

And then ...

You are detached from earthly purposes.
You are concerned about spiritual life.
You learn Elvish or Klingon.
You consult gurus on every matter.
You drink detox.
You harbor strange tattoos.
You talk Elvish or Klingon to your dog.
You drink champagne like water.
You crash your expensive sports cars.
You have dealers on your speed dialing.

You cannot understand your friends anymore.

Nothing makes sense anymore ...

[Note: Do you belieb me? The spelling was intentional ...]

But it felt so good when you were on the way up!

This is what it looks:

[Note: There are several versions.]

Now what happens on the way down is a bit more interesting.



What most of us do not fail to understand, is that going up is more difficult than going down.

[Note: Forget about what I said if you drive a car brand which spells with more than 7 letters].

But what most of us fail to understand, is that going up feels intensely much better than the pain you experience going down.

The tricky thing is that we get used to everything and that when you reach a certain level where it is difficult to picture what lies above, it is easy to get complacent,get bored and finally risk the fall.

Some might even look for the fall, but it has more to do with a pathological behavior.



So how do you keep yourself motivated?

[Note: You can find below some really good comments.]

I think that the best way is to first understand where your stand.

Many of us could benefit from time to time to picture out where we stands on a Maslow Pyramid of needs.

Just print it out ... spend 30 minutes on it ... Think ... Take action!

It always help to know where you are to plan where you are going!

[Note: I am not talking to you gamblers ... and no ... it was not a cheap
Will Smith quote ...]

This exercise will make you realize that often we forgot to be grateful for what we already have and that it feels good to rediscover some simple pleasures.


This post originally appeared on Linkedin. Written by  Yannick Feder

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