When we think about emotional intelligence, we recognize that it’s a complex issue involving many internal and external factors that impact our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. One of the key components of emotional intelligence that sometimes gets overlooked is self-motivation which, in turn, is key to our ability to motivate others.

Self-motivation isn’t just our ability to get out of bed each day, tidy our homes, or show up to work. It involves our personal reasons for doing something; it’s a combination of our drive, initiative, commitment, optimism, and persistence to accomplish something beyond money or recognition. In mountaineering, for example, someone may be initially motivated simply for the recognition or “bragging rights” of having accomplished such a difficult feat, but that level of motivation wouldn’t last long once the reality of the task sets in. There has to be a deeper meaning involved, and a commitment to yourself and others on your journey that make it all worthwhile. This is where the emotional intelligence piece fits in. Although there are certainly people who are highly motivated, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are able to exhibit or understand the other components of emotional intelligence such as empathy and self-awareness. These people are usually not driven to accomplish things for reasons other than personal or financial gain.

Where does motivation come from?

Motivating yourself and others to act starts with being clear on what you want to achieve. It doesn’t have to be a major life-altering goal. Anything we aspire to, whether it’s for health, relationship, career, or adventure-related goals, it doesn’t matter – as long as we are clear about what it means for us and those around us, and what we hope the end result will be. This way, we’ll focus on the benefits and results we envision, rather than the barriers and insecurities that are holding us back. It’s also important to anticipate the occasional setback and recognize that any goals worth reaching are going to have complications along the way. As I shared in an earlier blog, our ability to manage change and be flexible is critical to achieving success. However, we shouldn’t focus solely on the final outcome, as that could lead us to think that our goal is too far away, or too massive a task. That’s why setting milestones along the way and reaching for those smaller goals helps keep motivation levels up. Sometimes we will encounter setbacks, but being prepared, flexible, and adaptive will help us overcome these obstacles and stay on track.

Commitment is key

A fundamental part of motivation is being firm in our commitments. When we make commitments to ourselves and/or others and end up breaking them, we send a message that we are unreliable and lack perseverance. Sure, breaking a plan or activity on occasion for a legitimately good reason is certainly understandable, but getting back up on our feet and resuming where we left off is what sets us apart from the rest. Backing out of commitments will suppress our ability to achieve our goals and can also reduce our credibility and distance us from our allies and supporters.

Motivating others

When we talk about motivation within the realm of emotional intelligence, we should also think about how we motivate others. Are we kind, supportive and optimistic, or do we use bribery, ultimatums, put-downs, or even fear tactics? Having integrity, being optimistic and sharing our optimism with others helps us to be strong motivators. When we tell ourselves “I’ve got this, I can do this!”, we often see amazing results. The same goes for sharing that positive energy with others; it’s an amazing motivator! We can also remind others of those times when they were super motivated and how wonderfully that all turned out. Modeling strong behaviours and having good communication skills also helps us to inspire others. The adage “Actions speak louder than words” is particularly meaningful when it comes to motivating others. Some of us can relate to that certain friend or relative who always has lots of advice to dole out on any variety of experiences, but they themselves are the opposite of a “poster child” for that topic.  You know…the “Do as I say, not as I do” type of mentality that no one really takes notice of. That’s why we inspire others by leading and living as an example and sharing encouragement.

The last word on motivation

We all strive to make the most out of our lives, and it’s normal for us to have motivational levels that vary, depending on our current situation. It would be exhausting if every bit of our energy was focused on being highly motivated in all areas of our life. We should stop and examine why we are working towards a goal, and whom or what does it benefit? We also need to be transparent and maintain integrity in all that we do, and help others recognize that as well. Take some time to think about your personal views on motivation, and explore the many things, both internal and external, that motivate you.

Will it be easy? Nope. Will it be worth it? Absolutely! – Anonymous