The Roots of Motivation

Everything we do, we do for a reason.  All behaviour can be traced back to the desire to meet our basic needs.  Belonging, Freedom, Power, Fun and Survival – it’s the roots of all motivation!

Yet, even though I know this theory like I know the back of my hand, when applying it to our day to day lives, I still am pleasantly surprised at times with how universally these ideas resonate.

A young man approached me after a presentation I’d given on Restitution, with a perspective I hadn’t considered before.  He is a composer, and writes music for movies.  He said that as we’d been talking about the needs he’d been thinking about how this applies to his music.  He explained that he is often told that he needs to write music that is going to grab people’s emotions.  What he’d realized during our discussions was that he could reach people at a deep level by writing music focused on one of the basic needs.

How cool is that!  Restitution for Musicians!

He’s so right, though.  Think of how often in your day to day life you are trying to influence someone.  Instead of trying to control another person, when we think of how to meet people’s needs instead, it’s amazing how much more effective we can be together.  When I realized that I could meet my kid’s needs for fun and belonging by turning clean-up time into a game, the power struggle disappeared.  When I want to engage a group of people in a project at work, the level of involvement is so much greater when everyone feels they have an important part to play, which meets all our needs for power.  And it’s even better when we all have the freedom to do our part in our own way and on our own timeline.  The more that these basic desires are addressed, the more motivation increases.

Have you noticed other ways that meeting people’s basic needs can change things for the better?


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