The motivation versus inspiration quandary

Let’s start with a big question. Who inspires your to be the best version of yourself?  

Notice the question, who inspires you? There is a presupposition in that question – the presupposition is that there is a hooman somewhere that has demonstrated what is possible.  

So, if there is someone else that inspires you to greatness, it should be safe to assume that inspiration is an external thing.  

Then why do we mix up motivation and inspiration, and what really is the difference. 

1. Leaders inspire others with their actions 

Imagine for a moment being the leader that inspires others into action! Maybe you are already, and all power to you if you are! Go you. 

The thing about inspiration is that it is a reflection of the behaviour of others. So when we look at others, and we see what they are doing, or how they are achieving great things, we want to emulate those results. Because great leaders make things look not only possible, but easy.  

And if someone else can do it, so can we, is the message. 

Remember that it is not always just the big decisions or the big actions that inspire others. A research report into the changes in workplace health and safety over the last 100 years found that it is the micro-decisions of leaders that matter the most. The little things. Like saying something when people aren’t treated fairly. Like how they dress. Like how they speak to other.  

Inspiration is something that we get when we look at others and see what is possible. 

2. Team members are motivated by their why or purpose  

Motivation is an internal thing. It is a drive, it is a passion, it is a dedication to a purpose or to an outcome. Motivation is derived from the word ‘motive’, which explains a person’s needs, wants, or desires. 

In 1943, Abraham Maslow wrote the still famous white paper that detailed people’s motivation at work. And how motivation is about everything from fulfilling basic human needs (air, food, water) to higher order needs like self-esteem and self-actualisation.  

Self-actualisation is about finding your purpose, and doing work that moves you in the direction of your purpose. It is about doing work that makes a difference, contributing to something bigger than yourself.  

Leaders can help team members with their motivation levels, by engaging in them in the vision and the mission of the organisation, and then supporting them to contribute to that vision in a meaningful way. 

Motivation is something that we get when we have a goal that is big enough to move us to action. 

3. Inspiration and motivation both wain at times 

The big quandary is that both inspiration and motivation both wain at times. We run out of both of these, depending on where we are in life, and what is happening for us at the time.  

Think of the last time you had a boom event in your life. That period when you were just coping or struggling through. You weren’t inspired or motivated, you were just holding it together. We all are at times. And that is cool, too.  

We can’t be inspired or motivated all the time.  

But we can be put processes or habits in place that help us stay consistent. Even when we don’t feel like showing up or stepping up. Activity scheduling, time boxing, and other strategies are useful during these times. 

As a leader, it is important that you notice when motivation or inspiration are waning and help your team and team members through these periods. 

Reach out if you would like to know more about how you help your team stay inspired or motivated. 

And please click the image below if you’d like to chat about what leadership means to you.

If you would like to learn more about Anton or The Guinea Group, please click hereto book into Anton’s calendar, to:

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About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
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