#1: Just observe any street. Watch carefully. What do you see? What happens at the traffic signal? A long line of cars is waiting for the light to turn green and a hungry child comes begging for some money. Sometimes there are two or three of them together. A sympathetic car driver gives them some money and they all start fighting over it. Why?
What happens when we skip a meal one day or our lunch or dinner is delayed by an hour? Can we function properly? Don’t we want to drink a glass of plain/ordinary water as soon as we come in from the hot sun? Why can’t we quench our thirst with a cold fizzy drink or some hot soup? If someone asks us about inspiration definition when we are hungry or thirsty what wills our response be?
Food, shelter and clothing are our most primary needs. Like those hungry children, if we never get enough food to eat, we will be motivated to beg, borrow, fight and in extreme cases even steal or kill for a simple slice of bread.
#2: A boy is born to middle class parents. He has to share his room with his sisters and cousins. He knows his parents are working hard to make ends meet and he is motivated to study properly so that he can lead a life of better quality. He is motivated to dream of a brighter future and wants a house with a room of his own, later a car….a few years later all the latest gadgets. He wants to lead a life of comfort.
#3: This boy is motivated to work hard. They lead a simple life but they are never hungry like the children on the street. They wear good clothes and maintain them well. They know the value of money but their motivation definition is to improve their standard of living. He gets admission in a good college and pursues a professional course of his choice. His struggles motivated him to work hard and create a brighter future for himself. He tops the college and immediately lands a job in a very reputed company. He is saving a big chunk of his salary so that he can buy his dream home in a few years’ time. He plans to buy a house in his hometown so that his parents can live comfortably at least now.
#4: A few years later, this boy starts looking out for another job. His current job is quite good. He is earning very well. But he is not satisfied with the work atmosphere or his future prospects. He knows that he has worked hard and needs to be promoted to a higher position. He is the most deserving candidate in the entire company. Yet, he is passed over during promotion time. He had applied for a particular position when he had initially joined this company. The company promised him that he would get the position he aspired for within a short span of time. He is frustrated and angry because his ability, knowledge, skills and potential are not utilized fully in this organization. This frustration makes him derive his own motivation definition and prods him to move ahead with his life.
#5: He has developed his own motivation theory now and this propels him to look out for another job which will match his skill set and he gets his dream job quite easily. He is happy now. All his basic needs are met. He is earning quite well. He has already paid most of the installments for the house that he bought last year. And now most importantly for him, he is happy in his current managerial position. All his talent, skills and knowledge is put to good use and he is learning something new every day. The ambience in this organization is progressive and they even sponsor him for assignments abroad. They may even give him a couple of years off so that he can pursue a master’s degree in management.
#6: The organization has practically applied a few aspects of the most popular theories of motivation on a top performing employee like him by motivating him to pursue the degree and fulfill his dreams. He is also motivated to enhance his knowledge and expand his horizons.
Now it come the crux of the matter. These two common stories narrated above will become our reference points.
What is motivation?
Let us try to create our own definition of motivation from the above examples.
Motivation is something that drives us, propels us forward to do something. It forces us to take the initiative and work towards our goals. Motivation is basically a word with a positive meaning – but if the most basic human needs like hunger and thirst are not met ( like in #1), it can motivate a person to beg, borrow, steal or even kill.
If our biological, social, emotional or cognitive needs are not met we are motivated to take some remedial measures to improve our current predicament (like in #2).
In simple words, motivation makes us do something to satisfy some need.
What are needs? Can we satisfy all our needs all the time? Is there a limit to our needs?
We can easily answer all these questions based on our own experiences. We know that it is possible to satisfy our needs by working towards it. That is the core principle of motivational theories. Our needs like our dreams, desires and wishes may be never ending and may keep changing along with time – but if we make conscious efforts, we can fulfill at least most of our needs.
What is the difference between wants and needs?
We may want to buy a new phone though our old one is working perfectly. On the other hand, we may really need to buy our first phone immediately to improve our business.
Think carefully about all your dreams/desires/wishes/needs/wants. Do you really need to eat that pizza or do you just want to eat it because it is being offered to you for free?
What are needs to know what is motivation?
Needs are basic requirements that have to be satisfied as and when they arise. There are two kinds of needs – primary and secondary needs.
Primary needs: are the most basic requirements of our life. Food, sleep, clothing and shelter fall in this category. These primary needs are biological in nature and provide us with sustenance and stability. In #1, the children started fighting because their primary needs of food, clothing and shelter were not met. If these primary needs are not met, it affects our thinking and behavior.
Secondary needs: are psychological. Our experiences, our culture, our financial background, our struggles all lead to the development of our secondary needs. The primary needs of the middle class boy in #2 were fully satisfied. He was never hungry, lived in a house though it was small and wore decent clothes.
But his experiences created some motivation theories in his mind and helped him to improve the quality of his life. His dream of financial independence motivated him to study and work hard (#3).
He was happy with his first job because all his primary needs were met and most of his secondary needs had not yet developed. (#3)
Once all his primary needs and most of his current secondary needs were met, newer and more refined secondary needs started taking root in his mind and heart. He now wanted a better job (#4) so that he could use all his skills, talents and knowledge. He wanted growth and job satisfaction in his professional life – money alone was not enough now.
And finally in #5, his entire focus was now on enhancing the quality of his life by doing what he enjoyed most. His needs now changed to power, achievement and expansion of horizons.
Only because the needs kept changing with time, only because he felt there was something missing in his life, was he motivated to move ahead.
Conclusion: There is a strong relationship between our needs and motivation.