Motivation comes in two types: "true"
and "false". It pays to distinguish.
Advertisers, employers and politicians spend
huge sums motivating you to buy things, work
hard and vote a certain way. But the science
of motivation depends ultimately on the psychological
ignorance of its victims. Knowing about "carrot
and stick" behaviourism isn't enough to
protect you you need to know about value-system
There's nothing mysterious about motivation:
we're motivated to pursue what we value.
If you consciously choose your own values, "true"
motivation follows. If values are imposed on
you (eg by corporate/state authority) or unconsciously
absorbed (via the media), "false"
Just as values produce motivations, so do value-conflicts
produce apathy. When workers' values conflict
with corporate values, workplace apathy appears.
The corporate bosses then send their staff on
"motivational" training courses in
the mistaken (and laughable) belief that this
will cure the apathy. A more sophisticated approach
is to seduce workers into accepting corporate
values instead of trying to force motivation.
This is done with wealth/status symbols and
important-sounding job titles. Reed (the
recruitment firm) quotes a case of a receptionist
with the title of "Head of Verbal Communications".
Advertisers motivate us to buy things
by attaching social value to limited
supply commodities and limited
duration social status. The perception
of limited supply is essential for motivation
according to "supply and demand"
economics. The psychology behind this
equates motivation with competition:
act quickly, before someone else snatches
the thing of value. It's "a jungle
out there" only if everyone believes
there's not enough of the valued stuff
to go around.
Dont be a loser in the value-system
If you're motivated by a fear of "missing
out", it's an indication you've
internalised the value system of the
economic powers (corporations, advertisers,
media), resulting in "false"
motivation. You might consider yourself
"successful" but you're a
loser in the value-system wars. True
motivation, resulting from your own
personal values, isn't based on fear
if you value what exists in unlimited
supply eg qualities rather than things
to fight over.
Article by Brian Dean. Originally printed
Sleaze magazine, Spring 2004.