Sometimes it seems to me, we live in a world dominated by extrinsic rewards and competition motivating activities. I think for most people, it defines most of what we do during the week. Go to work and earn a paycheck. Come home to watch tv and dream about who you could be or where you could live. Then go online or on the cell phone to play a game.
But, if we stop with just extrinsic rewards and competition, we have an incomplete picture. Those are just the first levels on a progression. And so, we continue to Identification or Self motivation.
I am amazed by the level of effort my teaching colleagues will put into the profession, when they are the teacher. When they own the teacher role. And we see this in other lines of work - or as these individuals may prefer to call it: professions.
There is a simple self test. Do you go to “work.” Or, has that always sounded strange? If it does sound strange, you may rethink calling it work. Because, maybe it isn’t. It was once said to me, “You go to work to get paid.” From this I inferred a difference between a work and a career. I stopped going to work years ago. For awhile I did - working summer jobs in college to help pay for school. Then I became a teacher.
Side note: Want to kill the drive of a self-identifier? Distract them with external rewards. Here’s an example: imagine the older daughter who generally loves tying her younger brother’s shoes. Offer her a reward. Give it to her the first time, then don’t the next. Do you think she’ll ever tie his shoes again? Watch the activity cease, and a bit of aggravation set in. When you look for it, you will notice occasions where functioning intrinsic motivation is undercut by introduced extrinsic motivation...
I enjoy working with individuals who are motivated by self-identification. It is very prevalent in the oldest generations. (One word of caution for this generation from my observations: a single identification and retirement just don’t mix well. Make a serious effort to find a hobby and/or service group.)
It makes me feel very comfortable at an office visit with Dr. Yoder. She is the doctor. Steve, who’s worked on our cars for years. He is the mechanic. Identification gives us comfort. And, it should. We live in a funny world, where professionals are sometimes expected to be perfect. An odd notion. Nobody is perfect. We should be glad there are individuals who operate at such a high functioning (motivational) level. Motivated by identification is a natural progression which sometimes leads naturally to one more…
Motivated by service to Others.
Wow. You meet these people, and you are blown away. These individuals generally live very full lives, in each year of their existence. Some work extraordinarily hard. Sometimes they are on fire with energy. Sometimes they are calm with compassion. Sometimes, they lose their lives. Most of the time, others find improvements in their lives because of the work of these individuals. When you run into people at this level, you feel blessed. I've had many, many students who would love to say, "This is me." Yet, it is a small collection of these extraordinary students I count in my hand. Yet, thankfully, many adults motivated by service to others have crossed my path. Thank you, each of you.
So far, I have given you just a bit more than a good education psychology course would introduce to you. But, let me add my twist.
What if you take the difficulty level, from too easy to too difficult, and place it on a horizontal axis, and stack these levels of motivation on a vertical axis? A lane of engagement seems to appear. A learning curve?
But, more about this relationship next time. And, how it relates to the new school career pathways.