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The Work at Work: Motivation vs. Inspiration

Posted Sep 26 2008 5:16pm
The dictionary definition of motivation is to induce, incite, or impel.

The definition of inspiration is a stimulus, an animating action or influence.




In this video clip, business consultant and leadership theorist Dr. Lance Secretan discusses the diffierences between motivation and inspiration. Byron Katie says that motivation is fear-based and therefore stressful. Here, Secretan says that motivation is a form of bribery an act of selfishness and greed: "Do what I want and I'll give you what you want."

Inspiration, on the other hand, comes from the Latin word spirare, which means to breathe, or to give life. The same root word is found in the English words respiration and spirit. Inspiring leaders generously share their knowledge and enthusiasm. They lead by example, acting in alignment with their core values.

Says Secretan, "Love is what powers inspiration." Can you find where that's true? Think about how you move in the world when you align your actions with what you love and hold as your truth. Are you more productive, efficient and available when you are inspired, or when you are "motivated"?

If love powers inspiration, what, then, powers motivation?

I know that when I am motivated, it's because I desire to attain something (for example, if I write one hour a day for six months, I might have the raw material for a book by the end of the six months). There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, the desire can be stoked by inspiration (such as, my friend followed a simple diet and exercise regimen; she feels better and looks great. Hm, I'd like to have tighter stomach muscles; if she can do it, maybe I can too.)

But there's another kind of motivator; the fear of losing something or of not having something. It's not inspiring; it's more like, "Attain that goal...or else!" ("Get your cholesterol down or you'll have a heart attack!" Force yourself to attend networking events and speak to at least five people; you'll never grow your business sitting at home!")

Desire and fear are the byproducts of unexamined thinking. It's fine to want things, and it may be prudent to "fear" fire or cross-currents (though I prefer to think of it as respecting them). But if I'm acting out of fear and calling it "motivation," I may wish to investigate my thoughts.


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