Motivation vs. Inspiration
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - July 8, 2018 - 12:00am

Here is an old story with a modern twist.

A very motivated salesman, a demotivated tired administration clerk, and the inspired department head are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rubbed it, and a genie came out.

The Genie says, “I’ll give each of you just one wish which can motivate and inspire you to make your dream come true.”

“Me first! Me first!” says the administration clerk. “I hate my job. I don’t like my boss here and I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.” Poof! She’s gone.

“Me next! Me next!” says the salesman. “I want to be in Hawaii, I have always acted like I am highly motivated but I am not and I’m done with all this pretension. I want to be relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life.” Poof! He’s gone.

“OK, you’re up,” the Genie says to the department head. This inspired leader says, “I want those two back in the office after lunch.” And Poof!!!

So, what is the moral of the story? Very simple. Always let your boss have the first say.

There is a big difference between motivation and inspiration. And technically, you cannot use them interchangeably.

The origin of the word “motivation” is derived from the Latin word “movere” which means “to move”, the process that account for an individual’s intensity, direction and persistence of effort toward attaining a goal. It is described as a stimulus or force that impels people to take an action that persuades people to behave and act in a particular way. It is also defined as the process of giving a reason to someone to do or achieve something.

The word origin for “inspiration” in Latin comes from “inspirare” which literally means “to blow into, breathe upon”. In other words, it is something that one feels on the inside. The derivative of which is likewise applied to words like “expire” or “aspire.”

Not wanting to sound too academic in which I have derived these word definitions from many online dictionaries anyway, the practical thing to understand is that motivation is something from the outside that compels a person(s) to take action. This is why many “motivational” speakers would use all kinds of clichés and chants; apply verbal, auditory or even kinetic techniques to stimulate and compel their audiences to build up the desire to achieve certain goals. Motivation is targeted on the emotions that would build up the excitement of the moment and in most cases, the feelings disappear immediately after the speaker leaves the stage.

Inspiration works differently.  While it is a driving force that you feel from the inside, it does not intend to stimulate the emotions. Although the emotions may be touched as a result of it, but its primary target is the intellect. Inspiration provides information that educates and moves the will to do something, change something or to create something extraordinary.

I have always considered myself in the “inspirational” and never in the “motivational” business. This is why I stay away from the “motivational speakers” genre. As a practitioner in business for so many years, and currently am still in it, my purpose is to educate and provide ideas and information that can help businesses grow, to stimulate people to level up their performances, and to provide leadership skills to people who have direct influence over many. Not to rouse up their emotions and get them to do things.

People are intelligent. They have access to tonnage of information, but they need to process them and make them work. To “stimulate” them to do certain things by manipulating their emotions, in my opinion, is an insult to people’s intelligence. To “motivate” is to “push” them to do something. To “inspire” is to pull them to the realization that a change or transformation would be good for them.

This is why motivation is short-lived, but inspiration lasts. While motivation can also be achieved through external sources like awards, commissions, appreciation, etc., inspiration is internal, and it touches the deep desires that emerge inside persons.

Leaders can motivate their people to achieve goals, but leaders should inspire their people to change into better versions of themselves, and to tap their untapped potential.  Motivation is push. Inspiration is pull. Good leaders pull people to learn from them, emulate them and to “aspire” to become like them, because they are worthy of emulation.

So, my advice is don’t give up on the “motivational” part of doing business to push them for achieving short term goals and results. But, make sure that as a leader, you develop yourself first so that you could now pull and inspire your people to learn from you, and be influenced by you to be the best they can be. This is what I do, and this is what my talks and trainings are all about. Now, you know why I refrain from being referred to as a “motivational speaker” because I want to see long-term, sustainable results. Finally, just one more thought...don’t you think that this principle applies to parenting kids, as well?

(Culture of Personal Excellence is a one-day 10 a.m.-5 p.m. program designed to equip millennials to develop their potential and succeed in business, career or their profession. This will happen on July 28, 2018 at Ybizz Incubator – a new co-working space located at the 27th floor of PBCom Tower in Makati. Limited seats available. For further inquiries contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at www.successoptionsinc/cpe)

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