Creating a Motivational Climate
There are several features that make work naturally rewarding.
When we know we are doing, and we continue learning so that we know what we know and what we are going to learn, our own competency becomes a reward. We usually like to do the things that we do well, that people compliment us on, and that we perceive we are doing well with.
We enjoy doing things that we want to do, that we have decided to do, and that we can control. If your boss says that you need to improve your efficiency by 15%, you can feel inadequate and defeated, but if you recognize the need to increase efficiency yourself and then show your boss how you’ve improved by 15% without being directed to do so, you are in control of your results, and that is motivating.
In career planning, we often talk about working within your purpose, or calling. When we do what we are called to do, the work itself is rewarding. When we add self-leadership to this idea, the negative aspects of the job are significantly outweighed by the positive. Our own connection to the work motivates us to do what needs to be done.
Building Rewards into What You Do
When you are someone who is highly motivated already, you will still have off days. Life is just like that. When you can design work with the rewards built in, or clearly defined for yourself, then an off day is suddenly better. In order to build in rewards, you need to be clear on the things that you enjoy and the rewards for doing them. (Those rewards might be a feeling of competence, a feeling of living your purpose, or something else.) Another way to build rewards into what you do is to set up benchmarks or deliverables, like those used in a project plan, and tie rewards to completion of each benchmark or deliverable.
The Value of Optimism
Optimism and pessimism are attitudes which affect the way we see the world and what is happening around us. Optimists see success as the result of their own hard work, whereas a pessimist views success as being the result of good luck or fate.
Optimists see something like the loss of a job as a short term problem or the result of a lack of work in their field. They tell themselves that they will work hard to final another job, and as a result, another job will be secured. A pessimist sees a job loss as someone else’s doing: their boss does not like them, the system is against them, life is not fair. When a pessimist loses their job, they see it as a huge barrier. They may even take it to the extent that they will never find work again.
In his long-running research and best-selling book Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
, Dr. Martin Seligman describes how differently optimists and pessimists view the world. He also teaches how to shift our thinking to be more optimistic. The benefits to optimism are indisputable, as evidenced by repeated studies. Optimists have better overall health, live longer, and are able to more easily adapt to even the most harsh or horrible circumstances. Pessimists on the other hand, suffer more incidents of ill health, including increased clinical depression and anxiety.
Pessimists can learn to change attitudes and be more optimistic. Not only do they become healthier, but they also get more happiness from life in doing so.
Being an optimist is not always an approach that you can take in light of difficulty or adversity, however. If you want to focus on achievement, focus on improving morale, inspire, or teach, Dr. Seligman recommends an optimistic approach. However, pessimism also has a certain place, and even some benefits. Even the very optimistic can become pessimistic at times. Pessimism does have a way of looking at things realistically, which some optimists may fail to do.
ABC’s of Optimism
Here is a framework that you can use to work through any situation in an optimistic, realistic way. You can use the steps as outlined from A thru E to help you define and work through the issue. (This model was originally developed by Dr. Martin Seligman.)
A – Adversity
- Anything you see as a problem
B – Beliefs
- Our thoughts on the adversity become our belief
- How do we feel about the adversity?
C – Consequence
- What action takes place because of our belief
D – Disputation, Distancing, or Distracting
Disputation is arguing with yourself:
- What is the evidence for this belief?
- What are some alternative ways to look at the adversity?
- Even if my belief is correct, you say to yourself, what are its implications? De-catastrophe the situation.
- How useful is holding on to a negative belief?
Distancing means moving away from the pessimistic attitude.
- We can distance ourselves from the unfounded accusations of others but we are much worse at distancing ourselves from the accusations that we launch daily at ourselves. They are usually bad habits of thought produced by unpleasant experiences from the past.
- Stand back and defend yourself.
Distracting helps you break away from the pessimistic thoughts.
- Use a mental or physical technique to make yourself stop. Some people use an elastic band that they snap when they think pessimistically.
- Do what you have to do to turn your directions elsewhere.
E – Energization
- How disputing your pessimistic thoughts makes you feel