Motivation: what drives you to act?

Person standing on large rock

By Greg Price

Motivation is a complex process that fuels all individual activity. The engagement process has direct implications that can push you and others toward a positive result. The force that drives this engagement is the interdependence that exists between the individual and the context to which it belongs (Gîlmeanu Manea, 2015).

Let’s take your personal or professional goals you wish to obtain. Suppose you wish to build a satisfying career, purchase a home, or start a nonprofit business. The fascinating aspect about each of these goals is that the type of motivation – what drives you to aspire, and reach them – will be different from one goal to the next.

Reaching your goals and how you accomplish them is entirely up to the individual. They all require distinct motivation. But to be true, each motivation type will inherently involve a special ‘motivation’ for you. But they each do not hold the same ‘kind’ of motivation.

Different types of motivation

For example, the motivation behind purchasing a home is the desire to have ‘ownership’, a specific type of motivation that affects behavior. Another type of motivation is where you may want to start a nonprofit business, which actions can be aligned with having a high personal meaning, where you are supporting a cause greater than yourself. Or it may hinge on some form of social justice.

Finally, take a look at the example of building your career. This type of motivation can be seen as being aligned with the feeling of being ‘accomplished’.  This is where there is personal progression and enthusiasm to attain a goal. There is usually going to be some form of a virtual ‘ladder’ to climb.

On motivating others

Now put yourself into a position of motivating others. Would the same principles of application work?  Let’s take the last example: landing a new client. As a supervisor you may ‘empower’ your sales staff, but the sales staff may use ‘scarcity’ tactics on the client to bring the client in as a paying customer. Your sales staff may use the tactic on the client to buy through the tactical pressures of how ‘if you don’t do this now, how can you obtain your future targets?’ This is an example of a scarcity tactic.

Ownership, epic meaning, and accomplishment

In summary, there are different motivating characteristics that are used and can be learned to achieve or help others achieve. ‘Ownership’ is a driver of motivation that helps you to take care of a specific goal; ‘epic meaning and calling’ is the motivational driver where you do something that is greater than yourself, and finally, ‘accomplishment’ is the motivation you feel when you have rewarded yourself and you are moving on to the next reward.

What are some distinctions you can make about what motivates you?  Are you interested in learning more about human behavior?

In the MA Leadership program, through activities, we drill down to identify areas that make us and others feel motivated. As a leadership directive, you may find that leadership can help you motivate not only yourself, but also your team and your family to reach success.

MA Leadership at CityU of Seattle – Taught by leaders who motivate. (36 credits). We’re all about the finish.


Gîlmeanu Manea, R. (2015). Theoretical considerations on motivation at the work place, job satisfaction and individual performance. Valahian Journal of Economic Studies, 6(3), 69-80. Retrieved from

Chou, Y (2014). Gamification to improve our world: Yu-kai Chou at TEDxLausanne [Video        file]. Retrieved from


Published April 24, 2017



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