We can coerce or threaten and, to use that horrible word, “incentivise” people but most people only really do things they want to unless in desperate straits. In other words motivation, for most people, is internally generated.
Maslow‘s idea of people seeking self-actualisation may be considered old hat now but you can still see evidence of that human potential philosophy in the field of positive psychology.
Similarly Herzberg’s two-factor theory distinguished between motivators – which were intrinsic to the job, and demotivators, or hygiene factors, which constantly need attention like money which motivates for a while but then loses its incentive value.
Dan Pink‘s seminar on this topic is interesting and thought-provoking and you can watch it by clicking here.
First posted September 2010