This might be my favorite question that we ask during our internal interview process. I find that a lot of people describe themselves as motivated but when it comes to explaining what it is that motivates them, they are unable to articulate it.
I definitely have an advantage when the question comes back to me because I have spent a significant amount of time pondering what it is that truly motivates me. I know that I have always been intrinsically motivated from a young age, but I really wanted to be able to articulate what it was that motivated me. I thought back on my extensive 25+ years of life and there was one underlying motivation that stood out – words of affirmation.
Now, I happen to be aware that this is one of the 5 Love Languages and I immediately went into a panic thinking I was not in touch with my appropriate love language and worried about the effect this could have on my self awareness for that relationship I am never in. But no fear, my love language is still Quality Time.
When I think back to my school days, I always wanted to be the star student and loved to be acknowledged for my efforts. I appreciated when a teacher read my essay aloud or posted my work on the bulletin board.
Yes, being an only child, I received lots of words of affirmation from my parents. Maybe it was her cheerleader past, but my mom loved giving words of affirmation in the form of little notes. I always had a post it in my lunch box that read “You’re so smart!” “You’re the best!” “You Rock!” “You’ve got this!” or hidden notes on the back pages of my notebooks about how great I was. Talk about building confidence.
Professionally, when I look back on times when I was motivated to do my work well versus when I was not, it comes down to how much affirmation I was receiving. In my current job, we love to give words of affirmation. We have lots of celebrations and excitement over everyone’s accomplishments. Unfortunately, I did not receive as much encouragement when I was teaching.
Even in my personal life, I find that I am motivated by words of affirmation. There is one instructor at my barre studio who I adore simply because she is so positive and constantly affirms my workouts with applause and cheers. I prefer working out with a trainer versus on my own because then there is someone there to tell you just how hard you have been working and what a great job you are doing.
At my school in Mississippi during TFA Institute, we would end each day by all standing one large circle and singing the song below. At the end of the song, someone was called on and they would say something they did well that day and then we would all cheer before repeating the process. Of course there were hand movements to accompany the song.
Hey you’ve got it!
HEY HEY you’ve got it!
Some days you’re gonna struggle
YOU’VE GOT IT!!
Why can’t everyday end this way? What are you motivated by? Winning? Money? Material possessions? I would love to hear!