What Motivates People?
By Rick Warren
If your work involves any contact with people, whether as a construction foreman, salesman, teacher, flight attendant or a leader, or in providing a service, you must understand something about motivation to be effective. Why do people act the way they do? Throughout history great minds have suggested different answers to that question.
Sigmund Freud believed that all behavior is motivated by the desire to avoid pain and experience pleasure. In his view, pleasure-seeking is the reason anything gets done. We work because it will provide us with things that we think will provide pleasure. While it’s obvious that the desire for pleasure is a real and powerful force behind much of what we do – it doesn’t explain all behavior. Millions of people willingly forfeit physical pleasure and endure pain every day for a variety of reasons.
Alfred Adler believed that the desire for power and prestige is what motivates us. He wrote that we all need to feel good about ourselves so we seek to control the people and events around us in attempt to acquire these feelings. We look for things to do that will give us a sense of power and status. Again, this is partly true, but it doesn’t explain why so many powerful and famous achievers still feel unsatisfied.
Victor Frankl believed that it is the desire for purpose and permanence that explains why we do what we do. As a survivor of the Nazi death camps, Frankl learned firsthand that man’s search for meaning is the root of human motivation. People can live with minimal food and comforts but they cannot live without hope.
The truth is, each of these views is partly right. Human beings have a physical dimension, a psychological dimension, and a spiritual dimension. Life involves HAVING, DOING, and BEING. Our physical side desires a safe workplace and a secure income. Our psychological side wants to be valued, rather than devalued, for our work. And our spiritual side requires that there be a meaning and purpose to what we do.
Wise managers and leaders create organizations that help people experience pleasure instead of pain at the physical level, self-worth at the psychological level, and meaning and purpose at the spiritual level. When you integrate these values into your workplace extraordinary achievements are possible through ordinary people!
“Thank you God for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your work-manship is marvelous… You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe… How great to realize that You are thinking about me constantly!” Psalm 139:13-17 (Living Bible)
“This article is from Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox issue #20.
www.Pastors.com. Copyright 2001 by Rick Warren. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”