What motivates humans? Could it be money or love or recognition? Yes, yes, and yes! However, sometimes there may be other intertwining factors which enter into the mix.
Some years ago, I recall a story a teaching colleague shared with me. This teacher had just finished grading a test. Prior to handing out the corrected test papers to individual students, the teacher announced that only one student had a perfect score. As the papers were distributed, there were students piping up, asking various others, “Was it you?”, then turning, “Was it you?”, next doing an about face, “Was it you?” This class was popping questions as if they were popcorn. Those students were certainly motivated to find the individual!
What Was The Motivation?
My colleague merely ignored the minor inquisitive uproar. However, this teacher noticed a few details. Several asked those who were perceived as being the smartest students more than once. There seemed to be a hierarchy of students who were asked. Truly everyone seemed puzzled as to the high scoring student’s identity. Out of the corner of this observant teacher’s eye, the high scoring student was looking toward those who were asked. There was an occasional sly smile on this student’s face. It has been a while since I’ve heard this story, but the holder of the highest grade may have even asked a student or two as well. Some even begged the teacher to divulge the high scoring tester. When that class was dismissed, no one but the teacher and one single student knew the identity of the mystery student.
What Could Have Motivated This Student?
Through the years, this teacher and I have puzzled over the mystery. Could this student have preferred humility over bragging rights? Did this person find it entertaining to be secretive? Was this person curious if someone else would claim the perfect score? Could the high scoring student have been simply satisfied with doing well without all the hoopla?
Maybe this quote by the great-grandson of Henry Ford, William Clay Ford Jr., could be the case. Henry’s great-grandson was also a recent C.E.O. of Ford Motor Company. William Clay Ford Jr. had this to say:
I’m not motivated by money or power or fame. In the end, it doesn’t bring much happiness. The only thing that is driving me is self-satisfaction, self-validation.
Sometimes motivated folks may also be described as self-actualized. Here is an excellent article on this topic. https://www.verywellmind.com/characteristics-of-self-actualized-people-2795963#:~:text=Self%2Dactualized%20individuals%20are%20often,people%20improve%20their%20own%20lives.
Finally, here is a post which involves some self-actualized people in action: Speaks with Sunshine. The lovely ladies featured in my story have a strong sense of acceptance and appreciation which are two of the eleven characteristics of self-actualized and motivated people.
What are the secrets to what powers your motivation?