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How to motivate others

Motivation starts from within. Being able to motivate other means you need to start by motivating yourself and leading by example. According to motivation can be defined as “Motivation is an internal process that directs and maintains behaviour. Motivation is an internal process that can cause someone to move towards a certain goal.” 

There are two types of motivation, intrinsic motivation, and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation can be defined as: ‘Stimulation that drives an individual to adopt or change a behaviour for his or her internal satisfaction or fulfilment. Intrinsic motivation is usually self-applied and springs from a direct relationship between the individual and the situation.’

An example is an individual who enjoys achieving certain targets they have set. These targets can include things they need to get done during the day, completing a task, or exercising to feel good. Others may not necessarily see the results, but the individual achieves their sense of satisfaction through accomplishing what they set out to achieve.

Extrinsic motivation can be defined as the external factors that drove you to change or continue to change your behaviours. ‘The motivating factors are external, or outside, rewards such as money or recognition. These rewards provide satisfaction and pleasure that the task may not provide.’

An example of extrinsic motivators may include monetary rewards for achieving certain targets at work, children or a spouse being grateful, or having that beach body they worked for. 

Most successful people are extrinsically motivated. They are generally driven and motivated by tangible and visible rewards. Being extrinsically motivated is fantastic, although you need to be mindful of not losing steam when things become monotonous, and the sense of achievement diminishes. 

Did you know you do not only fall into one category? You most probably have both intrinsic and extrinsic factors that motivate you. 

One of the best examples of an individual with intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is Dwayne the Rock Johnson.

Dwayne loves to work out, and the roles he plays in movies require him to work out too. Whether he is coming to a movie or doing his infamous ‘The Rock workout routine’ he loves exercising. 

An extrinsic motivator is being The Rock. He is known for his gigantic size and larger-than-life actor. The industry requires actors to be fit and healthy. But all Dwayne’s roles are muscular and strong. It means his external motivation is to stay in the best shape possible as his career requires it.

Although on the other hand, when Dwayne starts talking about his workout routines, his eyes sparkle. Dwayne is passionate about health and fitness. He loves being fit and enjoys the feeling too.

When you understand if an individual is intrinsically or extrinsically motivated you can apply the self-determination and motivation model. 

It was developed by psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. They introduced a theory that suggested people tend to be motivated and driven by the need to grow and be fulfilled. 

It refers to the ability of a person to make choices and manage their lives. It plays a vital role in psychological health and well-being. Self-determination makes people feel as if they have control over their lives and the choices they make. People naturally feel more motivated when they are in control and can act. Specifically, when they know their action will affect the outcome. Self-determination also applies to education, work, parenting, exercise, and health. When you have a high level of self-determination, you can be successful in many different domains of your life.

The theory suggests that people are motivated when they can grow and change. It is influenced by three characteristics and universal psychological needs. 

It says that people become self-determined when they fulfil their needs of competence, connection, and autonomy.

  1. Competence: When people feel they are equipped, they are more likely to act and achieve their goals. This equipment involved the gaining or mastery of new skills. 
  2. Connection: People enjoy feeling like a part of something. Something that gives them a sense of belonging and attachment.
  3. Autonomy: People feel self-determined when they can feel like they control their behaviours and goals. When they can act, and that action will be a direct result of their choices.


Key components 

  1. Behaviour is driven by the need to grow. When an individual has a consistent sense of self, they must gain mastery over changes and new experiences. In short, this means that people are actively looking for growth.
  2. Autonomous motivation is vital. It is intrinsic motivation. Even though people are motivated by external factors such as money, status, or prizes, self-determination focuses on all the internal sources of motivation. Examples of these could be to gain more knowledge or independence.


Self-determination theory does not happen automatically. You may be orientated and feeling the need to grow, but it still requires continuous effort and fuel.

According to Ryan and Deci, being proactive or passive could be due to your upbringing. For example, the social conditions. Due to your relationships and the way you interacted with others while growing up. They either created or damaged your well-being or personal growth.

Influencing factors

  1. Self-determination can be lowered by extrinsic motivators. When people are constantly rewarded. The extrinsic rewards may influence and undermine their intrinsic motivation. It may result in feeling that they are no longer in control of their behaviours as they may feel they are being controlled by extrinsically.
  2. A boost in self-determination and positive feedback. When an individual gets unexpected positive encouragement and feedback, it may result in greater intrinsic motivation. When a person feels more competent, it will help with their personal growth.


When we look at intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, as the self-determination theory together, there is a continuum between self-determined behaviours and non-self-determined behaviours.

Self-determined behaviours include purely relying on yourself to be intrinsically driven. It means doing different activities for pure enjoyment, interest, and the satisfaction of performing the task itself.

Non-self-determined behaviours are performed as they need to or must be done. If we take the continuum to the extreme end, we could even say there is a lack of control in the task that needs to be done.

As you can imagine, the balance lies right in the middle. We need a certain amount of external motivation that will be the fuel. This fuel may even be helpful to aid intrinsic motivation. People like to engage in actions where they feel like there is a personal level of control. Their behaviours will also align with something important to them.

So using both these, how can we use them to motivate others?

  1. Get them to believe in themselves. People with high self-determination tend to believe that they have control over their lives. They can internally control how they feel. They can control how they behave in certain situations that will influence the outcome. They believe through diligence, the correct choices, and hard work, they can overcome any challenges thrown at them.
  2. Have high self-motivation. These people can motivate themselves without external rewards or punishment. They act without these things. Self-determined individuals are good at setting goals and work hard to achieve them.
  3. Base their actions on their goals and behaviours. A high self-determining individual continually engages in actions that they predict will bring them closer to their goals.
  4. Take responsibility for their behaviour. Motivated individuals know how to confidently take the blame for their failures and take credit for their success.


Stronger self-determination can be encouraged by improving your goal-setting skills, decision-making skills, self-awareness, and self-regulation.

If you are unable to motivate yourself, you cannot expect to motivate anyone else. So start at the very beginning, start with yourself and then motivate others.

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