Does Self Motivation Exist? Or is it just another HR Term?

This question was posted on LindedIN.

A fellow poster, Arie Versluis gave this answer:

The only kind of motivation which exists is self-motivation.

Ask yourself if you can motivate a person and the honest answer will be no.

The only thing you can do is create conditions in which a person has an option to motivate him/herself and then hope they will motivate themselves.Creating conditions in which a lot of people seem to be motivated is however no guarantee that all are motivated. It is always an individual choice.

And don’t forget that motivation is not a general state of mind. Motivation is always related to specific subject. For example, people can be motivated to interact with colleagues but not be motivated to deliver a high quality of service. In this situation are they motivated or are they not?”

I agree with Arie’s point of view, when he said that the only kind of motivation is self-motivation. And we can only adjust the environment, so someone else can choose to take action. 

Communicating to an employee (or customer) how it would be in their best interest (and how they win personally) will increase the odds of them choosing your desired action. 

4 thoughts on “Does Self Motivation Exist? Or is it just another HR Term?

  1. Quite an interesting take on motivation.

    I believe you are right. I believe you are wrong. I believe there is a mid-point in here where a great manager – leader – friend – wife – husband – coach – etc can without a doubt be a motivational force. Notice I did not say they can motivate you – but they can be the driving force behind your motivation. Just as a loss of income – a disaster – a needed move – etc can be a motivational force. Motivation comes from inside of each of us – but like a chemical reaction usually needs a catalyst to get it going. It should not be the way – and I see a slow change to people who have found the desire – the emotional push to motivate them as well as be motivational to others. I would like to think – on the other side of this coin – that people who are successful have figured out the motivational drive that they need on their own. Their may have been an initial push (usually the push of a great mate) but great people are able to be self-motivating. Big key is the ability to make a decision – a decision to be successful/motivated.

    Take a look at a recent post I did on great leaders and failed leaders – it may give you some new ideas to think on over the weekend



  2. Here’s my take. People who see themselves as having (wanting, trying) to motivate others are setting themselves up for frustration, because they see motivation as something they must do TO someone. Sure, they can make someone do something, but that’s not motivating them. That’s using fear and it’s a short-sighted approach.

    They should resign from the motivation business, and get into the inspiration business. If you can create a compelling vision, people will be motivated to achieve it. If your vision isn’t compelling, ain’t no one gonna wanna follow you. It’s that simple. Start inspiring, and people will start perspiring to make it so.

    Love to have you visit my blog, The Leadership Almanac, as well…


  3. Great supporters of self-motivation:

    Carl Rogers and Abe Maslow. They taught that motivation is the inner-drive to self-actualiztion.

    More recently, Teresa Amabile (Harvard Business School)shows that intrinstic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic rewards.


  4. I agree with Gary’s comments. Trying to motivate someone alone is very difficult, if not impossible. By providing inspiration, purpose and igniting a persons inner passion they will create their own self-motivators. What is needed by the leader/friend is regular reinforcement of success in order to help the individual build self-confidence and move through the challenges faced. With self confidence and self belief the limits are only those we impose on ourselves.


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