The Death Of Motivation In The New Normal World

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I know this sounds counterintuitive. How is it that a guy who claims to be a motivational speaker is saying that motivation is dead? You may also wonder why do corporations pay me so much money to motivate their teams if motivation is dead.

Am I losing my mind?

The answer is no. Although I experienced a mental shift when I turned fifty years young. I stopped drinking the Kool-Aid. I left the tribe. I’ll tell you more about it in a future post.

For now, just know that I am mentally fine. I’m not contradicting myself.

I have always been haunted by this one simple question: Why is it that some people are not getting what they want out of life? That caused me to think that motivation in and of itself is an illusion.

There are many people behind bars. They were all motivated to do something that eventually caused them to be in jail.

The world is full of motivated fools. The reality is, most people are unable to channel their motivation properly.

An uncontrolled mind is like a powerful river that is not controlled and directed appropriately. That can be disastrous and dangerous.

The way I see it, everyone is motivated. Even the so-called lazy people are motivated. They are motivated to do nothing. Yes, doing nothing is an action.

In fact, I dare to say there’s no such thing as lazy people. They simply don’t have the interest nor the passion to lose themselves in doing a thing. The lazy kid can spend hours playing video games or riding the dirt bike.

My attempt here is to point out that traditional motivation is dead.

Companies should rethink the way they approach motivation in the workplace. Individuals should rethink their assumption about motivation as well. When you say you are not motivated, that’s not the real issue.

I believe, there’s only one kind of motivation that is effective. Let’s talk about it.

“Why Motivation” Rules In The New Normal World

“He who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

I’m all for motivation. However, it must be properly channeled. Your motivation must have a positively definite purpose behind it. Of course, every motivation has a purpose. But, I carefully say a definite purpose.

To the casual observer, motivation comes first. To the deliberate thinker, a clear purpose precedes motivation.

If you think you lack the motivation to accomplish your dreams, it’s because you don’t have a why that excites you first thing in the morning. Maybe you do. But, it’s not strong enough.

I urge you to stop everything you are currently doing. It’s time to define or refine your why. Define it so compellingly that others want to put their dreams on hold and join forces with you.

Before I get on any stage, I have to know why I seek to motivate my audience. I have to know precisely what behaviors they should change and why. However, they have to take what I say and fit it into their own whys.

Let’s say I’m keynoting a conference on change. First, my audience members must know the implication and consequences of remaining the same during disruptive change.

I have to make my case so compelling that they feel the urgency to reinvent themselves in order to win in spite of their challenges.

If you are a manager, take this to the bank: The future belongs to the “why-managers”.

Managers who are capable of providing a strong why that is compelling enough to motivate their team members will rule in the new normal world.

But, the “why” has to fit their paradigm.

People are motivated to do things for their selfish reasons, not ours. They buy products and services for their reasons. That’s why savvy entrepreneurs always sell the “why” compellingly into a story format.

In a previous post, I said that employees don’t need more trainings and skills during turbulent times. They need more motivation. I left out this one piece of the puzzle: Employees need “why motivation” in times of change.

Okay, why did I motivate myself to write this post? I simply want to inspire you to ask yourself this question: “Why am I doing what I am doing?”

Your “why” should excite and compel you and those around you. Others will be excited when the “why” is not about you!


  1. BJ Stephens

    I could not agree with you more, however, instead of “why” managers I believe we should always ask “what if…” Those two words can open a lot of closed doors, change the direction of thought, open the world of possibilities, and encourage ideas from procrastinators and doubters,dreamers and believers. Motivation comes in many brightly colored packages but the biggest motivator is allowing the next person (or employee, spouse, friend, manager, etc.) the freedom of self-expression without the fear of reprisals. In a workplace the freedom to express ideas, make suggestions, and allowing employees a chance to feel that they are important and matter to the company lends itself to a more motivated, happy and productive workforce.

    • Rene Godefroy

      Absolutely BJ. Self-expression is fundamental to motivation. When people are afraid to express their opinions, they are stuck. They are not motivated to carry on. As a result, the company suffers. Brilliant ideas are suffocated.

      However, sometimes we have to show up feeling important, or with a sense that we matter instead of waiting for a boss to validate us. Although I believe it is the duty of managers and supervisors to constantly praise team members.


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