What Motivates You?

J. Keith Hughey


Volume XXII, Number 26 (Issue 1072) June 17, 2024

What Motivates You?

According to research conducted decades ago by Abraham Maslow, you and I are motivated by our innate need for the following: food and shelter, safety and security, belonging to a group, praise and recognition, and self-actualization. Moreover, those motivating factors work on us in that order, hence the term Maslow gave to them: hierarchy. Experience tells us incentives, whether tangible or intangible, fall neatly within Maslow’s structure and are great motivators when we need to move beyond our personal comfort zone. Our fears on the other hand, be they warranted or not, have the opposite effect. 

Fears are more likely to inhibit action rather than encourage it. Action in the face of our fears boils down to an overwhelming desire for a different outcome. In short, the willingness to act despite our fears is what so often makes the difference. 

I mention this because countless opportunities are routinely lost when our fears take center stage. For example, think of all the thoughts, questions, and solutions to problems you have had throughout your life that went unspoken (and therefore unanswered) because you chose to say nothing. Multiply that by all the times people on your team and in your orbit opted to bite their tongue rather than speak up, and the total is staggering. 

Recognizing that innumerable transformative ideas (along with a good measure of impractical ones) never see the light of day merely because people are afraid to speak their minds is reason enough to change the dynamic. The obstacle we so often face is how to create and sustain an environment which enables all those thoughts and ideas to break the surface as well as reach the ears of those who can turn those ideas into something meaningful. 

The simple solution is to create what is known as a psychologically safe environment. That is, a setting where people can speak their mind – provided, of course, it is done in a way that does not overtly offend. That is easier said than done since so many of the thoughts we want to give voice to are the equivalent of telling someone their baby (their legacy decision) is ugly. Think of it as speaking truth to power. Not everyone takes that well. Nonetheless, much of the change in this world only happens when you and I are open to alternative points of view and different ideas, not to mention prepared to move beyond the existing paradigm. 

In summary, there are times when the best way to get out of our own way is to listen to what others have to say. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 

J. Keith Hughey

Mobile: (210)260-0955

E-mail: keith@jkeithhughey.com

Website: www.jkeithhughey.com

Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance

Copyright 2024 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Recent issues of Musings may be found at www.jkeithhughey.com.  Your comments are always welcome.

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