A Mountain of Motivation
We hiked to Hidden Lake today, at the top of Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road, and discovered heaven. I couldn’t help but think what a study in intrinsic motivation it was (look, if I’m going to be blogging while on vacation, I will find an insight ’round every bend!). To propel ourselves, eleven-year-old in tow, up to 7152 elevation, required a myriad of external and internal motivators. The promise of cashing in his souvenir points to buy a cute little Mountain Goat stuffed animal was enough to keep our son engaged for the trip up (although I was keenly aware that I was going against all of Dan Pink’s research in heaping on the external motivators to get him to do what we wanted him to do…), but I was curious about what encouraged my husband and I to do such a thing? To choose to spend a couple hours hurling ourselves up a steep hill with an icy, unrelentless wind in our faces, only to have to turn around and hike back down. It certainly wasn’t the promise of souvenir points. No one would be cheering for us when we made it back down the mountain. No big paycheck or promotion lay in wait. We did it for ourselves. Our motivation was purely intrinsic. The thrill of making it to the top! The challenge! The breathtaking beauty all around us. The desire to get stronger. The chance to share the experience. The celebration that we could, in fact, hike at all.
The whole time I found myself thinking about people who trek the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail and wondering what it is that keeps them going. Overcoming the blisters, and the body aches, and the hunger? Why do they do it? How do they do it? And I think it comes down to the ability to tap into powerful intrinsic motivation. What if we could all tap into that kind of power?
What if we could find it within ourselves to overcome the toughest obstacles and reach the highest peaks, not because of the promise of anything that will be given to us, but because of the promise of what it will make of us? The promise of becoming our better selves? And what if we could spark that kind of limitless power in the people we lead?
What if we could overcome the toughest obstacles and reach the highest peaks because of the promise of what it will make of us?
When we got down the mountain our kiddo said, “Mom, I can’t believe I did it! That was the most amazing hike I’ve ever done!”
“I’m so proud of you,” I responded. “That’s quite an accomplishment.”
“I’m pretty proud of me too, Mom. I can’t wait to do it again!”
Perhaps “that power” is just waiting to be ignited. In all of us.
An intrinsic mountain of motivation.
©OnStage Leadership, 2016
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Kimberly Davis is the Founder/Director of OnStage Leadership, a full-day experiential leadership workshop. Click here to read what people are saying! If you’re interested in more information, or in having Kimberly come speak to your group on topics around Authentic Leadership, Influence, Presence, Engagement, Purpose in the workplace, Presentation Skills, or being BRAVE at work, we’d love to hear from you!
If you haven’t had a chance, check out my recent Tedx talk or my interview with Alise Cortez on Voice of America’s Working on Purpose Channel: Bringing Our True and Best Selves to Work: Cultivating Authentic Leadership with Kimberly Davis.