Motivation is all about keeping you engaged and energised, or at least turning up and working hard, right?

Well, yes, and no. Yes, because energy matters, but no, because there is far more to motivation than just engagement.

For example, how you are motivated tells us a lot about how you will acquire skills and how, ultimately, you are likely to enjoy real success.

Notice that I didn’t say that motivation tells us what skills you have; if you have already done hoozyu or any other version of the Birkman Questionnaire with us, you will have heard us say that your Interest scores tell us nothing about your skills. You can have zero motivation in an area and lots of skills, or vice versa.

For example, I know plenty of people who have Accountancy qualifications, who have no motivation in that area; and I know an equal number of people who are highly motivated by working with numbers, and yet have no formal Accounting qualifications.

What your motivational profile does tell us is:

  • how likely you are to put in the hard work to acquire the relevant skills in an area of expertise;
  • how you will most easily acquire those skills (what might be called preferred learning styles); and finally
  • how much ease of success and ‘flow’ you are likely to experience once you have those skills.

An approach where you simply look at the skills you have acquired (exam grades, courses completed and so on), and then try to build a life around those skills, is a bit like the old approach to manufacturing (think Henry Ford, back in the day).

A machine would be set up to make one part over and over again (bazillions of the same part, which all piled up in a heap). If you needed the machine to make a different part, or you changed the design of the current part, it would take hours and hours to change the machine over, to make the new part - and that’s after you spent days and days making the new tooling. Boring, ineffective, and lots of the produced parts went to waste.

Building your life around your motivations is more like modern ‘lean’ manufacturing. You make a handful of one type of part (just enough for current needs; anything more would be waste), press a button to release the current tooling, snap the new tooling into place and start making a few of the next part, all in under ten minutes. New parts required? Snap, snap.

And that’s how it feels, to build a life based around what motivates you. You know how you learn best, you are motivated to learn new things all the time, and success - well, success comes with mastery, and mastery is just part of the fun you are having.

Hard choice, eh? So when it is time to tool up, understand your motivations first.