Principles

Motive: The First Step to Bigger Thinking

Understanding how your motives impact your decisions and actions is the first step to thinking bigger, better and toward making true impact. Motivation is the underlying reason for a person’s actions.  Failure, while sometimes a result of poor execution, can most often be attributed to the impact of hidden or unclear motivations. Starting any effort with motivations that are hidden or unclear will lead to confusion, arbitrary goals, unintended consequences and undesired outcomes.

Avoid Systems of Dysfunction

The misalignment of motive and intended outcome is the root cause of dysfunction in systems, businesses, and relationships. True motive can explain how a person can be trained to perfectly perform customer service tasks, but still be unable to provide great service.  It is the reason that a freelance worker can have plenty of work, but no profit. It is the reason that an entrepreneur can invest time and money in building an app that no one wants to use. Your true motives directly impact your decisions, which impact your actions, which determine your outcome.

Your true motives directly impact your decisions, which impact your actions, which determine your outcome.

If your overriding motive in building an app is to be personally validated by becoming an app builder, then you are less inclined to devote time to understanding your customers; because for you it’s not about the customers, it’s about you becoming an app builder.  Your need for validation coupled with your urge to build may override the requirement for you think critically and discover what really matters to the people that you claim that you are trying to impact.

If your overriding motive in providing customer service is to follow directions so that you can earn a check, then when a customer makes a request that is not covered under your predefined checklist of “things to do to earn the check”, you are less inclined to address it because for you is not about making customers happy, it’s about following directions and earning the check. You are the one most likely to forget that table #9 has food, but prefers blue cheese instead of ranch; delivering blue cheese to table #9 is not on your checklist of things to do.  Your ability to add value by thinking beyond the script is encumbered by an unmet need to survive.

 Your ability to add value by thinking beyond the script can be encumbered by an unmet need to survive.

If as a freelancer, you are primarily motivated by people wanting or needing you to do things, then being needed will be what drives you; actually earning a profit may be secondary, although it is critically important to your success. You may be destined for busy work while being frustrated by an unmet need to earn a living; this will ultimately affect your quality of work and your ability to make a bigger impact.

Use Clarity to Expand Your Capacity

Scientific studies have revealed that implicit motives are responsible for much of our daily behaviors, decisions and actions and are often driven by habit & lack of conscious awareness. There are many motivation theories to explain why we do what we do, including the popular Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I believe that no single theory can explain motivation for all individuals, but each can offer benefit in understanding the forces which cause you to act. Gaining clarity on your motivations will enable you to consider their impact on your ideas, your decisions, and your actions. In the absence of this level of clarity, you are destined to experience frustration, further reduce your ability to think critically, and ultimately create dysfunctional systems, businesses and relationships. 

To improve your capacity to think broader, make better decisions and experience positive impact, remain clear on your needs, how you are wired, and what propels you to act. 

To improve your capacity to think broader, make better decisions and experience positive impact, remain clear on your needs, how you are wired, and what propels you to act. Then, align your WHOLE SELF with the people, places and things that allow you to serve, to be served and to ultimately make a positive impact in all areas that matter.

You can take the person out of the Stone Age, not the Stone Age out of the person.
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Kishau Rogers is the editor and founder of The bigThinking Project. The bigThinking Project is a resource center and collaborative innovation project which promotes the principles of systems thinking. Our mission is to empower the next generation of innovators to think bigger, to think better and to create solutions which make significant impact in the areas that matter. Kishau Rogers is an award-winning entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience in the computer science industry. She is a serial entrepreneur having founded and co-founded companies such as Websmith Group, TimeStudy, PeerLoc Inc., and Websmith Studio.

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