Category Archives: Motivation
What is the purpose of education ? What did we tell our children about going to school ?
Purpose of education | What my dad told me
I was born in a poor family . You see , my dad was a taxi driver and his daily income varies . If he doesn’t drive , he doesn’t get paid . Whatever he earns is just enough for the family . There is simply too much uncertainty . There is only so many hours in a day and there is only that much you can earn in a day . Its not scalable !!
The purpose of education is of course get to learn and apply what you learned . Industry pay you for what you know and there is a demand for the application of this knowledge . So education in the end provides a better earnings , better living standards and more opportunities . So what happen if you can have all these without having to go to school ?
Purpose of education | In Doha , Qatar
I bump across this article and left me thinking [see report here] about the purpose of education in Qatar . Now if the government guarantees everyone an annual salary , property and everything else without having to go to school or work , then what can motivate the children to go to school , or parents sending their children to school ?
Our education system is such that you go to school to seek knowledge . In schools we get to know so much things , how things work and so forth so that we know how to solve them . Imagine not knowing how electricity works and how a bulb lights up ? Because we know , we are able to fix and solve these problems when it arises . The best part is , the industry pay us to fix these issues since we know how to fix them . So the better you are at it compare to someone else , the more you get paid . The reason why we are better is because we love doing it more than someone else probably . We probably can come to this conclusion because we are “mature enough” to understand the whole mechanism . We may not realize or understand this as a young student , except that there is a “reward” at the end . As the student focus on the “reward” , we setup a system to encourage them to try so that hopefully they find passion or interest in the areas that they will eventually excel in , which seem to appear to support the reward system .
If one can get all this “reward” without having to attend school like in Qatar , then it is extremely difficult to encourage the young students to find this interest or passion in the process of learning , unless he or she is mature enough to see all this . Not many young students would understand this and therefore when compared to other countries , the mass majority would not be able to compete successfully , globally , eventually , because of this safety net .
Purpose of education | What did we tell our children about going to school again ?
If you have a caged pet bird , do you ever wonder what will happen if you let it loose in the open ? The pet bird having food brought to it daily , and without having to hunt for food , perhaps may not be able to survive in the wild . The same thing goes to our children . So I personally think it is still valid to tell our children that we attend schools to seek knowledge so that we can understand and apply them eventually . The system we design must encourage this effort of wanting to seek knowledge , and eventually finding their own passion and interest , and its reward that come eventually . The reward may be secondary . This is what i think is the purpose of education
What is common between positive thinking and the “garden of weeds” ? A lot actually .
Positive thinking | Our brain
The most important part about motivation and positive thinking is that it starts with our brain . Let us look at what happens when we leave things as is . For example
- what if you don’t shower ? you stink
- what if your husband don’t shave or cut his hair ? Every soon he becomes untidy
- what if you leave your garden as is and do nothing about it ? Weeds starts to grow
So in its natural state , without effort , things gets a little untidy and later starts to fall apart . The same goes to our bodies . If we don’t exercise we get fat . If we don’t use those muscles , very soon it will deteriorate and lose its functions . Guess what happens to our brain if we leave it idle ? Without positive thinking , we will start to accumulate negative thoughts .
Positive thinking | Our brain is like our Garden
Our brain is exactly the same as our garden . If we don’t take care of our garden , very soon weeds will grow . So how do we take care of our garden ? We ensure that our garden has enough sunlight , water and fertilizer . We need to put in effort to do all this and the same goes to our brain too . So what does our brain need ? It needs to be fed with positive thoughts every time so that we don’t let weeds to grow at all in our most important organic , biological asset . Once weeds starts to grow , it is very difficult to have them removed . Once negative thoughts start to sink in , it is also difficult o have them removed . You see , very soon , the weeds that stays in the brain is like “bad” habits which are hard to get rid off because over time , they become character … So feed it with positive thoughts , positive thinking so that we leave no room for negative thoughts to fill in
Positive thinking | Life is like a garden
Life is like a garden . You are responsible for it . You decide what you want to grow , how it will look like , what you want to feed it with and eventually see the results of your effort . There will be times where weeds will start to sneak in and you won’t know till they start showing up . You will have to decide how long these weeds stay and how long they get . You will definitely need to take action when you see these weeds , because if you leave there for too long , it may have taken over the entire garden !! So if you don’t like your garden , change it . It is your garden so don’t let them take root !!
Positive thinking | Reap what you sow
Our thoughts are causes
You sow a thought , you reap an action .
You sow an action , you reap a habit .
You sow a habit , you reap a character .
You sow a character , you reap a destiny .
It all starts with a thought , positive thought , positive thinking !!
Motivation | CEO 1st 100 days problem
In todays’ reward and punish system , a new CEO of a company has about 100 days to show results , else when the earnings are out , all eyes will be on him . The problem is everybody wants results , and as quickly as possible . Sometimes these quick fixes are really very poor band aids and good in the short term , and harm the company in the longer term .
This is like a normal car salesman . He gets his commission the moment sales is done . He does not care about after sales , car maintenance and customer complaints because he has already received his incentives . These are short term and may not do well in the long term . If the salesman’s commission and incentives are tied to longer term goals , such as after sales on customer feedback on maintenance and everything about the car , the salesman will do activities that is more balanced in both the short and longer term which truly benefits both customers and the organizations
Motivation | Money and the creative right brain
We know that money isn’t everything when it comes to motivation . Here are 2 very interesting articles from Daniel Pink , author of the book “A whole new mind” about motivation . In his book , Dan talks about the right side of the brain dominating today’s global economy . Our left brain hemisphere which controls logical thinking , sequential , linear and analytical are essential , but not enough . We need to develop our creative right brain capabilities (empathy , artistry , vision , big picture ) . In Dan’s book “Drive” , he believes that to motivate right brain creativity , it can be done with more human and less material incentives . In this video , he has CEO of System Source talking about scrapping sales commission in 1994 , because it disrupts customers’ effort . The reality seems to be that money de-focus the original intent or purpose of the act or task itself .
See the video below .
Motivation | Monetary incentives led to poorer performance
What is the normal typical motivation scheme in many organizations ? We rewards the top performers and non-performers don’t get anything. Basically , if you reward something , you get more of the behavior that you want . If you punish something , you get less of the behavior that you want. .
Conclusion : If the task involve routine task or purely mechanical type of skills , bonuses work as expected . The higher the payout the better the performance . This is the traditional carrot and stick approach that we used to know
However , according to Dan , some study has shown that , once the task involve some rudimentary cognitive skills , the results is reversed , which is larger rewards led to poorer performance . This is surely unexpected . How can this possibly be ?
Watch this video from RSA (Daniel Pink)
Let’s examine some of Daniel Pink’s findings
1. Monetary incentives led to poorer performance . Traditional “stick and carrot” motivation is only good for routine , mechanical task oriented activities and not for task that require even rudimentary cognitive skills . Breakthrough requiring creativity , visionary , conceptual thinking that requires the right brain , the type of motivation or incentives are not necessary monetary , but more on human incentives such as recognition , purpose and self direction .
2. People needs to be paid enough , so that they don’t have to worry about about them .
3. To motivate the right brain type of activities , we need human incentives or motivation , and according to Dan , they are autonomy , mastery and purpose
There is another report with similar results and findings . [For full report]
Motivation | Summary
In summary , there are 3 things we need to work on other than money . Allow some degree of autonomy in doing what they like to do and how they want to do it , doing things that they care very , very much and start treating everyone as humans who needs a sense of purpose and meaning in what they do . So who says motivation cost a lot money ?
In motivation , sometimes it does not cost you an arm and legs to reward and inspire employees . But it has to be done in a genuine manner , with true sincerity , right from the hearts .
Motivation | Small things matters
Some of us belief that small little things really matters to our fellow employees . If we cannot do these simple small act of good will then it is very difficult to do the big things in life . It is strange but true that these small little things adds up and not only that , if we constantly does them , it becomes part of us (part of our character over time) and it becomes very natural to us .
If you are a manager of a company , there are many things that you can do to reward and inspire fellow employees . Most of them does not cost a lot of money but does require some personal attention or systems to be defined to ensure that there is proper procedures and control in place by Human Resources (HR) . We will examine some of them .
Motivation | Money isn’t everything
In motivation , we all know that money isn’t the only motivating factor . Here are a list of things we can do in the work place that we can reward and inspire our employees
1. Get the employee to your office , so that you can thank the employee personally . Try to remember his/her face and his/her name and this has to be done genuinely and wholeheartedly . So next time when you meet the same employee , remember to greet him/her by his/her name
2. Put a “thank-you” note on the employee’s desk or office . It will be great if we can make personal “bravo” cards for any occasions Have them pre-prepared for use when the situation warrants it . A personally self made card is better than those that everyone can buy at the local store
3. Have a Vice-President or Senior Manager to call the employee or visit the employee’s work area to personally thank him/her for the job well done .
It is very important to praise employees and tell them what they have done right , and how his/her act helps the organization and fellow colleagues . Encourage others to do likewise . Such show of gratitude and genuine appreciation will go a long way in enforcing the type of culture for the organization as well . It does not harm or cost to praise more .
4. Buy lunch for a group of employees and eat together , say every quarterly . Share conversations with fellow employees
5. During festive occasions , buy food for all employees (Such as mooncakes , dumplings during chinese festive seasons , etc
6. Look to give out special awards (such as no sick leave in the last 6 months , special mention by customer , etc)
When management shows through actions rather than words that you are a valuable employee , it does no matter what level of employee he/she is , those actions are simply very motivating .
Motivation | A system for recognition and appreciation
Setup a system for recognition and appreciation of employees . Generate as many ideas and reasons for doing this . Following are some examples
7. Mentoring of new employees . Identify and use mentors as role models . Mentors who knows the particular process well and anyone can look up to them for anything
8. Best employee’s award for the month
9. Set up a board of fame with photographs of outstanding employees on the company’s notice board . Take photographs of the employee being congratulated by his/her manager
10. Make special small pin tagged onto the employees badges as a form of recognition and identification of such employees
Motivation | Recognition and appreciation
There you have it . We have 10 ways that does not cost much money . In motivation theory , we already knew all this but we need to put this practice in place in our work place . Individual recognition is sometimes more important than salaries , bonuses and promotions . Employees want to be identified with the success not only of their profession but that of the organization as well . And the best way is to receive acknowledgement that they did contribute to making something meaningful happen . That’s a motivation !!
I wonder if some of you still remember the 7 habits from Stephen Covey ? What about this 7 Habits from our local Ah Beng that was quite popular a few years ago ? I have a picture frame up at my home which i took the photo from , though you can still find them at the internet . Here is the text version .
Stephen Covey is a great motivational speaker and i really enjoyed reading his book . I remember i bought his book way back in 1990s and the most difficult part about the 7 habits is habit # 6 which i was trying to grasp then and still is , a challenge . Imagine trying to understand someone , maybe a foreigner , say Guna from India . One may not be able to fully comprehend the amount of hardship and suffering Guna has gone through when he was in India , not to mention his culture , his own personal experiences that one try to understand . Every time i try to put on the pair of glasses (hopefully Guna’s glasses) , the world i see through the glasses seems to be my glasses , not Guna’s , though i tried very hard to see using Guna’s glasses . So , culture , personal experience and environment that one is not fully exposed to , may pose real challenges to habit # 6 . Its like knowing or understanding may not be enough . It cannot replace the experiences the person has undergone .
In simple terms , there are 2 basic types of Motivation , Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation .
Motivation | Intrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic Motivation has a lot to do with our own self beliefs and values systems , shaped by the environment , our experiences and our own upbringing . We derive pleasure from the activity itself regardless of the external influence such as rewards or pressures . It exist within the individual and it is a task that we will do willingly even we are not paid to do it .
Motivation | Extrinsic Motivation
Extrinsic motivation refers to an activity with a targeted outcome . It comes from the outside of an individual such as rewards , promotion or treat of punishment . In competition such as sports , it is actually Extrinsic motivation because it encourages the individual or team to win and out beat another and not because we enjoy the game itself .
Motivation | Finding meaning and purpose in the workplace
Then what is work ? Do you like your job ? What if it is work for free ? Do you want a promotion ? Why do you want a promotion ? Is it because of the monetary rewards ? Most work therefore is external motivation , unless the work is being internalised by the individual where the actions provides a sense of meaning and purpose which aligns to an individual own self beliefs and value systems , which then satisfy the psychological needs of the individual . So it is very important that the individual find a sense of meaning or propose of what he or she does in the workplace , and not just because of salary . If it is just a job , so whenever this external factor changes , it will have immediate impact to the employee .
Motivation | What motivates a company or an organization ?
Now , let’s extend this to business . What motivates a company or an organization ? Profits ? If this is true then its external motivation . For intrinsic motivation , a very key important factor would be the values the company or organization brings to a customer . So the culture of a company would be one that focuses on the values that they bring to the customer which in turn being rewarded with profitability . The profitability is the outcome of the values a company brings to a customer . If a company only focus on the profits which is external and once this disappear , just like an individual , the action ceases . So a company needs to focus on values and must be able to add value else it ceases to function . It is because a company is able to provide values and belief in providing this value , that the company or organization is profitable . So the purpose of a company existence is to provide value and not profitability . Profitability is the outcome or result of the value it brings .