Inspiration vs. Motivation

Would you rather be pushed by some else’s concept of what is best for you or drawn forward by your own innate desire?  This is the fundamental difference between inspiration and motivation.  I’ll take inspiration any day of the week.

Many people use these words synonymously.  In actuality, their meanings are far apart. Just ask a kid learning to ride a bicycle (inspired) vs. a kid doing their homework to avoid punishment (motivated).  It’s nearly impossible to keep the inspired kid off the bicycle while it’s a full-time job to get the motivated kid to finish their homework.

It’s much simpler to think of it this way:

  • Inspiration is pulling
  • Motivation is pushing

When you have a desire you’re being pulled by it for the experience.  It allows you go grow, become more capable, and have more fun.  It’s a craving in your soul.

Inspiration is a downstream and  effortless form of action.  Inspiration is authentic because if comes from the inside of those involved.  They want to achieve their goal with every fiber of their being.  It becomes their all encompassing passion and commitment.  When someone is inspired you have to tell them to relax and take some time off.  Otherwise they’ll work through the night because they’re totally focused and inspired to keep moving forward.  It’s all they think about and all they want to do.

Inspiration is self-policing in that those involved are always looking around them to see if anything has been missed or if someone else needs help.  The ask themselves if there is a better or more efficient way of moving forward.  New ideas are introduced and accepted with enthusiasm because everyone is on the same wavelength.  Inspired action is as important to the individual as breathing.

Motivation on the other hand is someone trying to devise a way to get you to do what they want.  You may be neutral about the subject or oppose it outright.  Motivation is an upstream, efforting type of action.  It is artificial in that it requires constant assessment and adjustment of the attitudes, progress and emotional status of those involved.  It requires a lot of work on your behalf.

Motivation requires continual monitoring because people are very creative and will find numerous ways to put forth minimum effort while trying to collect maximum reward.  Motivation falls into 2 main categories – avoid pain and move toward pleasure.

Good motivators use a combination of both forms because neither is effective for every individual in every situation.  Sometimes we move toward pleasure, and other times we move away from pain.  It depends on the situation, what the intended goal is, and the magnitude of the pleasure and pain.  Good motivators act as a catalyst to help their team reduce their resistance and move forward to accomplish the intended goal.

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