Motivational Intelligence 101


10 Basic Facts About Motivation

  1. No one can motivate someone else.  All motivation is intrinsic (belonging to their essential nature) within each person.
  2. We are each motivated to behave in ways we believe will adequately satisfy our desires for 16 common human needs.  How we meet our most intensely desired needs becomes our habits and personalities.
  3. How we prioritize our needs creates our values-systems.
  4. Our values-systems create the lens or rules we apply to all our experiences and thoughts to create an individual subjective version of what we believe is reality.
  5. While humans are more similar than different, perceptions of significant opposite values threaten our worldviews and trigger our natural defensive and self-protective reactions.  
  6. We each believe we are “normal” and that other weird people would be happier if they adopted our values-system and do what is most satisfying to us.  Even well-meaning bosses can inappropriately use their organizational authority to mandate the boss’s values-system.  “It’s my way or the highway.”
  7. If we can remain curious, we can seek to understand why people innocently pursue satisfying their strongest needs and learn to accept, tolerate, and respect even opposite values to our own.  Ultimately, we can use opposite perceptions to complement a more accurate and complete collective worldview.  Understand our own and other peoples’ motives and values is called motivational intelligence.
  8. If something is not being done, a likely reason is that the person has not thought of a meaningful enough reason to be willing to do it. Motivation is wanting to do something to satisfy our needs.
  9. When one behavior satisfies multiple needs, we can predict we will likely repeat the behavior, becoming a habit.
  10. Frustration focuses our attention on an unsatisfying thought or situation denying one or more needs or violating our values.  Frustration causes enough discomfort to get us to change to a more satisfying state.

The secret to a meaningful life is doing the most of what you find most meaningful.  A Reiss Motivation Profile® uses the Science of Motivation® to provide a detailed blueprint of your intrinsic motivational values-system. 

How to Be Your Best at Doing Your Good!

It’s not easy staying an idealist in business. Whether you call yourself a social entrepreneur, conscious capitalist, b-corper, or a sustainability warrior, you are trying to build and sustain an organization that does good profitably. Doing good is good for business, but it can take a severe toll on leaders who believe they must do it all on their own. The price of failure is the loss of money and the lost benefits to society. This dual burden can easily weigh on leaders like you. Fortunately, I help idealists be their best at doing their good every day!

Many of my executive coaching clients come to me, hoping I can fix their people or processes. They are often surprised to learn that their path and fix-it strategy begins with them. Not that they need fixing, but that they need to grow into the leader and manager that their new situation requires of them. Executive coaching is about utilizing untapped potential and mastering already acquired knowledge and skills in new ways. Coaching is a highly efficient and impactful collaborative process where clients rapidly realize the benefits of professional and personal development in sustainable ways. After all, isn’t unutilized potential and ineffectively deployed talents a waste?

The foundation of a do-gooder who is excellent at doing their good is strengthening their mindset and cleaning out any misbeliefs and self-sabotaging self-talk that sparks irrational fears, doubts, and counterproductive behaviors from an executive. A coach uses powerful questions and truthful observations to allow clients to see potential blind spots and pitfalls.

My clients regularly report greater satisfaction and reduced frustrations at work and at home. They master developing and sustaining effective interpersonal relationships and alliances. Executive coaching clients who chose to work with me learn to be trustworthy, outwardly emotionally stable, demonstrably compassionate, and creators of hope. These are the high-demand qualities people look for in their leaders, according to on-going research.

“I can no longer work with my boss” continues to be the number one reason people give for changing jobs. What is undesired turnover costing your organization? What if you could quickly improve teamwork, collaboration, reduce interpersonal conflicts, and improve performance by working with me as your coach? According to recent research, the typical executive coaching client realizes a return of between $4 to $8 for every dollar invested in receiving coaching from an experienced executive coach.

Could you be better at doing your good? Take the following quick self-survey.

  1. I often feel overwhelmed by having so many things to do.
  2. I feel like I am always putting out other people’s fires and can’t focus on my plans.
  3. I constantly have to be a referee of my own people’s arguments.
  4. We lack teamwork and collaboration.
  5. My best people keep leaving.
  6. Nobody seems to care around here but me.
  7. My board wants me to be a better leader and more professional.
  8. I must be a more effective communicator.
  9. We must be more agile in our ability to change.
  10. I have got to develop my people.
  11. We have great plans and awful execution.
  12. I need to hold people more accountable.
  13. My perfectionism is getting in the way.
  14. Revenue must go up, and expenses must come down.
  15. I have got to be able to tell the story of my vision for the future better.
  16. I can’t allow myself to burnout or become discouraged and lose hope.
  17. I feel like an imposter and worry people will find out I am faking it and not making it.
  18. Our quality could be much better.
  19. I really need to delegate more.
  20. I need to develop systems and processes that can accommodate our growth goals.
  21. I need to motivate people to want to work harder.

If you can relate to any of the above statements, then there is only one more question that only you can honestly answer. Are you coachable?

If you would like to experience a free, no-obligation executive coaching session to get some clarity on a challenge or issue you are struggling with, then let’s explore what it might be like to work together. My goal is to quickly help you to be your best at doing your good! The only thing you have to lose is whatever you think is holding you back.

Collaboration Requires Character

I recently enjoyed a fascinating conversation with a psychologist colleague of mine, Ann Daniel. She has invested a great deal of her professional career advising a major health care network on how to live out the network’s behavioral expectations for effective working relationships. One key element which Ann teaches is the importance we all place on our individual sense of security.

Running on Cow Paths

According to Ann, when someone feels insecure or threatened emotionally or physically, they naturally revert to their early childhood learned behavioral habits to protect themselves and defend themselves. She calls these often used behaviors “cow paths,” which she describes as well-worn and often trodden strings of behavioral reactions. They are one’s go-to reaction to feeling fearfully threatened or when seeking to avoid pain in its many forms. The intriguing fact about our preferred “cow paths” is they don’t guarantee they lead us to where we want to go or the emotional outcome we want to experience. Instead, a cow path is just a familiar coping reaction or thought stream that may or may not be appropriate or effective in achieving one’s desired goals or outcomes. Unfortunately, we tend to race down our favorite cow paths towards what we think is safety often before our logical and rational responses can catch up.

As I reflected on my conversation with Ann, I began to think about the key character qualities identified in Gallup’s annual Follower’s Study. For example, Gallup lists the most important leadership traits followers look for in the leaders they willingly choose to follow: trust, stability, compassion, and hopefulness. But based on my conversation with Ann, I wondered if one must also consider the feeling of security as a requirement for inclusive leadership and effective collaboration? This led me to create a model to help visualize the concept.

Copyright 2021 AD Growth Advisers Inc.

For people to form effective alliances and collaborate effectively, the group needs to encourage personal feelings of security. Individuals must recognize when they or someone else has slipped outside the security perimeter and is feeling insecure.

How to Avoid Scaring the Herd

My colleague Ann offered some behavioral indicators of someone’s sense of security. When we are feeling secure, we have an open mind and a growth mindset. We are willing to be curious, experiment, learn, and understand situations and other people. We can access our creativity, empathy, compassion, and respect for others and ourselves. We are free to be our authentic selves.

When we feel insecure, we will run down our cow paths of coping, self-soothing, defensive, and self-protective behaviors. Instead, we become judgmental, angry, confrontational, demanding, blaming, isolated, anxious, doubtful, discouraged, fearful, paralyzed, and even hopeless. We are guarded and are not willing to be authentic and vulnerable.

Our challenge is not to become an insecure runaway cow! On the contrary, creating and maintaining a sense of security is the safest space to build teams, collaborate, learn, form alliances and due leadership focused on change. So what can you do to keep the “cows” safe inside the security fence?

Want some help with your herd? Let’s talk.

The Most Valuable Success Insight You Need to Know

The most valuable success insight is understanding your values-system. Unless you understand your values-system, you cannot experience predictably meaningful, satisfying, and significant success. This is because your values-system determines what you intrinsically value, need, desire, and are motivated to pursue. Your values-system also is the lens you use to create your subjective experiences of what you believe is your worldview and reality. Unfortunately, most people live a trial and error pursuit of successful living and never feel like their needs are totally satisfied because they don’t know why they do what they do.

Professor Steven Reiss, Ph.D., spent decades researching what motivates humans. He created and scientifically validated a theory called, 16 basic desires theory of human motivation. His theory has since been validated and referenced by dozens of other researchers and is the underpinnings of The Science of Motivation®.

Reiss found that humans all value 16 needs. But what makes us individuals and shapes our personality is our differing amounts of these 16 needs a person needs to feel temporarily satisfied.

The graphic below details the 16 basic desires that humans value and are motivated to pursue.

Image Copyright 2021 IDS Publishing Corporation Inc.

What creates our personality are the habits we use to satisfy our uniquely personal mix and our prioritization of these 16 basic human values. For example, A person who is extreme in their need for physical activity might be described as athletic. Someone else with an extremely low need for physical activity can be described as leisurely. The challenge we often face is making sense of conflicting opposite values. The athletic person might judge a leisurely person as lazy. The leisurely person could label the athletic person as a fitness nut. These values-polarities cause misjudgment, mislabeling, misunderstandings, and missed opportunities to create relationships because our primitive limbic system in our brains judges values differences as threatening to our well-being. When it comes to our values, opposites do not attract, they are motivated to argue.

Professor Reiss created a simple online assessment called a Reiss Motivation Profile® that provides you with a detailed blueprint of your values-system that creates your nature, personality and motivates your habits. With the insights gained from an RMP, you can understand what you value the most. How your values compare to other people. Why you feel compelled to do what you do. What creates your greatest satisfaction and frustrations. Why you argue with or avoid other people. What roles and environments will you thrive or wilt in. And much more.

The most valuable success insight you need to know is a clear understanding of what you value most and need most to feel successful. The Science of Motivation® has the answers you need to succeed.

I have personally helped nearly 2,000 business professionals learn to honor their core nature and understand their values-system. As they increase their motivational intelligence, they learn how to create sustainable and life-affirming habits that are most satisfying of their needs. They create ecosystems where they can thrive. They understand how to form more productive relationships with other people, including people with opposite worldviews. They become more compassionate and empathic people with who others enjoy working.

The secret to success and to a meaningful life is simply to do what makes you feel successful and what you find most meaningful most often. A Reiss Motivation Profile® provides you your most valuable insights on what you find most valuable.

I would welcome an opportunity to help you increase your motivational intelligence @ work! Let’s have a conversation about motivation. It’s why we do what we do.

Contact Andy-How can I help you?

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Living by Remote Control

My wife and I sometimes refer to our television’s remote control as the wand of power. Whoever possesses the remote control can dictate the information flow to the big screen in our living room.

This morning as I was straightening up my reading table, my attention focused on the remote control. It occurred to me the remote is not the true wand of power. Our minds are much more powerful.

The first button is power. Pressing power allows the television access to electrical current and energizes the device to project a picture on the screen. Our consciousness operates similarly. When we are awake, our stream of consciousness is protected into our field of perception inside our minds.

Input is a button allowing the user to select the information source. Attention is the mind’s equivalent function.

Volume adjusts the sound in the same way as passion increases the emotional intensity of our experiences.

Perhaps the most important control is the channel button. If we don’t like the programming we view, we can change channels and tune into something more appealing or fitting our mood. Our thoughts are just like that. We sit in the mind’s station, observing various trains of thought arrive and depart. Some thoughts we focus on and essentially board the train for a ride. Other trains of thought we let pass by. Like our remote, we have the power to change what we think as quickly as pressing the channel button. If you are not enjoying your mental show, think about changing the channel, and you can immediately think differently. What you think creates how you feel. Choose your channel of thought wisely.

Lastly, unlike my plastic wand of power, which whoever grabs it first can control my whole family experiences on television, no one else can ever gain access to your mental control and push your buttons. You always have the self-control to make choices about what you think, resulting in how you feel. Remember, you can press mute to silence any unwanted mental noise and tune out fears, doubts, and unwanted inputs from others.

I hope you find an epic adventure of a lifetime that you enjoy binge living!

How to Erase Fear

Your memories, hopes, dreams, doubts, and fears are all created by your thinking. They are all made out of thoughts. Fears do not have more energy or weight than sweet dreams or mundane math calculations do.

If you struggle with doubts and or fears, here’s my simple and extremely powerful whiteboard exercise to wipe out and erase them.

Erase Your Doubts and Fears Whiteboard Exercise

  1. Write your specific fears or doubts on a whiteboard. Right it big and scary as you can in red or black!
  2. Erase the fear while saying loudly, “I don’t believe that or need that!”
  3. Repeat the exercise every time the nagging thought enters unwelcomed into your thinking.

My coaching clients quickly realize that fears and doubts are simply thoughts. They admit to feeling sort of stupid having to keep writing and erasing the same fear or doubt a couple of times. They quickly learn the control they have over their thoughts, which then naturally gives them control over their feelings.

We don’t have to believe and act on everything we think. While we can’t always control what we think, we can control what we choose to believe. If your train of thought is loaded with fears, don’t jump on board for a terrifying ride. Watch how fast it passes if you let it.

If you believe you would benefit from some help, let’s talk more.


Enough Advice to 2021 Graduates

I have reflected on a post I recently read asking folks to share one piece of wisdom or advice to the graduating class of 2021. Here’s where I landed.

The most important word for each of us to personally define and then accept is “enough.” Enough is the most effective vaccine to the deadły virus of more.

Learn to recognize the feeling of enough and spend as much time there as you can, and you will discover the life you’ve lived has been enough to satisfy you fully.

Why Some People Hate Working Virtually

Jennifer, a Senior VP of a large corporation, slammed down her cellphone in frustration when she read the latest corporate email announcing their indefinite extension of virtual work from home privileges of most employees. What motivated Jennifer’s intense reaction to the announcement? Jennifer is one of the estimated 20% of humans who is naturally motivated by the need for status. Jennifer is frustrated because working from home denies her need for status. She intrinsically values her VIP reserved parking spot, her corner office, and the other office perks that come with senior executive status. The longer Jennifer is quarantined from the status of her office, the more frustrated she will naturally become.

Wise CEOs will consider the motivational mix of their key employees before they choose to eliminate their dedicated office space or shift to shared spaces. Status-conscious employees like Jennifer may not be able to tolerate their perceived reduction in status by such moves and may look to change organizations. If it seems petty to you that Jennifer would be so shallow as to need an office to prove her value, then you probably have only an average need(approximately 60% of humans) or lower intensity value (approximately 20% of humans) for status.

Professor Steven Reiss, Ph.D., was a world-renowned research psychologist who studied human motivation. Reiss’ 16 Basic Desires Theory of Human Motivation identified 16 needs that all humans share. What makes each person unique is their prioritization and passion intensity for each need.

One of Reiss’ 16 Basic Desires is the desire for status. Reiss describes status as, “the basic desire for respect based on social standing…People seek status because they intrinsically value self-importance and respect.” Reiss went on to write, “People feel slighted when they receive less deference than is their due, and they feel flattered when they receive more deference than is their due. Status motivates people to pay attention to and value their reputation.” (Source: “The Reiss Motivation Profile®: What Motivates You?”, Steven Reiss, Ph.D., pgs. 62-63.)

Effective executives understand motivational differences and work hard to create individual ecosystems where people can thrive. Frustration is nature’s focus and productivity killer app! It is designed to alert a person to an unmet need and to get them to change their situation to a more satisfying one. Professor Reiss’s research found that one’s needs are primarily genetic in origin with added cultural and societal influences. Jennifer didn’t choose to value status. She was likely born with a stronger than average need for status. She also cannot likely change or deny her heart’s desire to have her status recognized.

What can an effective executive do to increase their motivational intelligence and keep Jennifer from quitting? It all begins with a Reiss Motivation Profile®. RMP data can help an executive better understand and predict what is likely motivating each employee’s reaction to organizational changes.

If you would like to increase your motivational intelligence, please contact me.

Effective Executives Are Power Providers

Effective Executives Maintain Powerful Connections

When I think of an effective executive, I think of a power block.

An effective executive is plugged directly into the organization’s power current. They are the power providers for those connected to them.

An effective executive is a surge protector for their team. They provides safety in storms to prevent those connected to them from being shocked, fried and burned out.

An effective executive provides adapters so they can connect and power each unique resource.

An effective executive provides the right amount of power to each connection for optimal performance.

An effective executive rapidly senses when a resource has disconnected and rapidly re-establishes a working connection.

An effective executive understands that normal wear and tear and friction can cause connections to fray and for wires to get crossed. They invest time in relational maintenance and conflict prevention.

Do you need to grow your power supply and become a more effective executive? Let’s talk today about creating your A-B-C Growth Plan!

If I were you…actually means if you were me

How many times have you tried to offer helpful advice by saying, “If I were you…”? We think our amazing empathetic powers allow us to have clarity of insight and understanding of others’ complex and complicated lives. We can obviously see what someone else should do in a situation or solve someone’s problem.

If you were in their shoes, your feet would probably be uncomfortable.

The Science of Motivation® and extensive psychological research of Professor Steven Reiss, Ph.D., found that we each have a unique values-system created by our genetics and cultural upbringing that we use to interpret our experiences and worldview. Professor Reiss discovered that we each believe our values-system is the best one for every human, a term he called “self-hugging.” Reiss also found that humans tend to advocate and defend their strongest values by influencing and sometimes forcing others to change and adopt their values systems. Reiss called this well-meaning coercive tactic everyday tyranny.

When we give feedback or advice, we are always providing our subjective opinion based on our biases and individual values-system. Basically, we imagine ourselves in the situation and share what we would likely do to create an outcome that we would find most satisfying and least objectionable. We believe we are recommendations that are objective and rational, but they are actually personal. We make the mistake of believing we are each “normal” when we are each very different.

Our everyday tyranny is amplified when we have organizational power or authority to mandate our values-system to others. We naturally encourage or influence others to do things “my way or the highway.” Even when we do not overtly do so, people are attuned to imitate what their boss does, how the boss reacts, and what the boss rewards as normal, acceptable behaviors.

Executives risk creating a group-thinking culture of “yes” people who are actually using tremendous quantities of willpower and self-control to acquiesce to the tyrannical boss’ demands inauthentically. We lose the inclusion of different worldviews and miss out on invisible possibilities in our values-blind spots.

Whenever you say, “If I were you…” you are actually meaning “If you were me…”

Rather than offer advice or recommendations that would yield consequences you could live with, it is more helpful to ask the person seeking your opinion open-ended questions that you do not already believe you know the answers to. Here are some of my favorite self-hugging prevention questions:

  • What do you think is the wise thing for you to do?
  • What are the best and worst likely outcomes from your decision?
  • What advice are you secretly hoping I would give you?
  • What recommendation could I make that would make you most confident and/or most afraid?
  • What is in the way of you making a decision?
  • If you were going to advise a friend, what would you do if you were them?

We often falsely believe we are looking out a window when mentally, we see our reflection in a mirror. I use the Science of Motivation® with all of my executive coaching clients to clearly understand their unique values-system and worldview. Executives are responsible for sustaining a culture of inclusivity of everyone’s unique values-system. Inclusive collaboration depends on a high level of motivational intelligence. I work with my executive coaching clients to help them use the Science of Motivation® to their competitive advantage. If I were you, I would highly recommend you find out more about a scientific approach to inspiring the best in your people and you.

Let’s talk about being your best at doing your good!