Motivation may be the single most crucial factor in the whole COVID story. Yet it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
June 27, 2020
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[There are a few links in this text towards other blog posts by me. You can either click through or go to https://aurelis.org/blog and search on the exact string.]
General motivation principles
Corona times form a good occasion to learn about what is more generally applicable. Also, such times may show us the importance of striving for correctness in these principles. Many lives are directly concerned. One shouldn’t be coy about this.
Every motivational mistake costs human lives and health.
Motivation drives us.
It does so in significant issues as well as in the smallest one.
Without motivation, there is no motion, no change, no action. Anything you do comes from your motivation to do so and not otherwise. If you read this, you are motivated to read. If you keep reading, you are even more motivated to read this. Your motivation keeps you reading.
Otherwise, you would have stopped reading at the previous sentence.
Motivation can be conscious or nonconscious, or so it seems. But it’s not true. Motivation is always nonconscious. ‘Motivation’ in consciousness is as much a product of the underlying motivation as any other action being the result of where it comes from.
Otherwise, you could force yourself to be motivated. It would be a conscious decision to get motivated. And it isn’t. You can try it out at any time, taking something for which you are not motivated. Then try to force yourself into motivation just by the blank thought. Snap your finger and be motivated. Snap it again and be motivated for the reverse. And again.
You see, it doesn’t work that way.
The same is valid for motivating others.
It also doesn’t work that way. Meaning: you cannot force another person to be motivated. You can only force him to do something. But that’s not motivation. It’s coercion — big difference.
If you start working from the idea of active motivation, you cannot motivate anyone, ever. In the other case, a motivational universe opens itself.
And now we have entered a corona era, in which motivation is of utmost importance mainly for two reasons:
- to let people keep social distance,
- to keep vulnerable people more distant from the whirlpool phenomenon.
These may seem not deeply related, but as we will see, in depth, the same principles are crucial.
Superficial characteristics of motivation are not relevant.
For instance, one can try to ‘speak the language’ of the person-to-be-motivated. But if it’s not from the heart, it also feels this way. Even more, it may feel like manipulation, which it is. [see: “Difference between Motivation and Manipulation“] This diminishes trust and creates anxiety. That’s precisely what we should avoid, being energy for the negative whirlpool.
But ‘speaking the language’ can, of course, also be done from the heart. In this case, the language is an opening towards the heart. It’s there that the chemistry works, in ‘deep to deep communication,’ from heart to heart. Such communication motivates, even if at the superficial level, people may intellectually disagree.
The conclusion is that ‘speaking the language’ is not relevant as a superficial characteristic. Important is how you speak and crucial in this again is depth.
So, should one ‘speak the language’ to be motivational? Yes and no. Since a lot of speaking and writing about it is merely superficial, it detracts from what’s important. This includes every study that doesn’t reach depth in the domain of motivation. No wonder there is so much contradiction and short-lived theorizing about motivation and, among other things, motivational leadership. [see: “Motivational Team-Leading?“]
“We’re in this together.”
Are we? Yes, but with differences. One can see this regional or worldwide. Of course, there are immense differences in healthcare provisions. These are important now and will become even more so shortly. We are all in this together. If the virus is kept at bay in Europe but, let’s say, becomes rampantly prevalent in Africa, then Europe will not one moment be safe either.
Seeing that we’re all in the same big boat is not just a question of altruism. Together, we are sailing through space on our little blue planet. We are more and more bound to be together and that’s a good thing!
Togetherness plays to the feeling of empathy. Some may feel this more readily for people in their direct environment; others readily feel empathy much more broadly. The extremes of this continuum may mistrust each other, thinking that the other side of the continuum – becoming a duality this way – has no empathy and, thus, in times of corona, will worsen the situation. For instance, one can see this in the issue of ‘health versus economy.’ In reality, health and economy go together. It would be motivating for all to keep hammering on this. There is no modern healthcare without economy. There is no modern economy without healthy people.
Pre-existing divisions – which always start with inner division – may heighten through this misconception. This makes it even more necessary to enhance the togetherness in corona times, not the division. If some good can come out of it all, it’s from the experience of being in this together.
Social distancing drives people physically apart from each other. This can be balanced with social togetherness, the feeling of being in this together. I hope that in due time, the social distancing may disappear, while the social togetherness remains.
Deeper values motivate
At the same time, deeper values unite. We all want health. We all naturally – unless as the result of some deep frustration – want to care for ourselves and others. We all want a world without a pandemic. Even more, we all want to be deeply happy, and that is only possible if others are happy.
Having secure one’s deeper values heightens deep happiness. Deep happiness heightens inner strength, which strengthens the immune system. I say this with confidence, not from specific experimental research but from many indications that themselves are scientifically validated.
The opposite is inner dissociation [see: “Inner Dissociation is NEVER OK!“]. For instance, a smoker may want to quit smoking, but internally, he doesn’t want to – precisely because of his addiction. So, there’s an inner divide, a fight against oneself, provoking stress. The smoker feels it and relieves it by smoking, and so on. The same mechanism is at play with many other issues. The result is a chronically stressed individual. Put age or another risk on top, and you get an individual prone to succumbing to a virus that has found stressed organisms as its niche. The present coronavirus may be the most advanced in this until now.
Motivating people in corona-era also has as a valid goal the diminishment of this inner divide and stress. In the long term and
in the short term. How-to?
I cannot be consistent without referring to the free Aurelis app, of course, available at https://aurelis.org/aurelis-app.. I had this in mind when developing the app in the first place. If one would analyze the ten immersive exercises (five ‘mild’ and five ‘severe’), one would see that they are not mere relaxations. They are oriented explicitly toward supporting people in finding their inner strength within stressful circumstances. There is no time to turn around the bush. It’s hands-on support, with stress and challenge already present. One can do the exercises and redo them while listening to them or just thinking about them. The goal is what comes out of you, not what you put into yourself through listening to me. It’s your inner strength, your mental landscape. Roaming there, you find the motivation to live and be healthy, and on top of that, to live a healthy life. Is this asking too much?
The app can work directly. It can also work by sheer knowledge that it’s available as support in times of trouble. I would recommend having it available indeed, doing exercises at least a bit in time, so that you know what to expect. Also, it’s like art or at least a handcraft/mind-craft. By exercising, one learns to use the app more efficiently and with better result. This way, when needed, you can skip the learning curve. It’s there. It’s ready for you. And as said, it’s freely available.
Beside the app, in the short term, I think motivation starts with avoiding de-motivation. Any physician learns to ‘primum non nocere.’ First of all, do not harm. We can read it here as: “Do not de-motivate if you can avoid such.” For instance, one can try to make people wear facemasks by saying that “You will be guilty if you don’t wear one and we will all pay the price for your misconduct.” This boggles my mind. Its political correctness is not relevant. It creates much resistance and, sooner or later, precisely what one tries to avoid, for sure.
The virus is still among us. If we don’t take care, many people will get sick and even die. We are sure of that. One may try to make people consume more by neglecting or hiding this. Simultaneously cajoling them into wearing facemasks ‘for the purpose of health’ is transparently inconsistent and provokes much anxiety. See: now next to each other are living those very anxious and those very careless or even hostile, and a division that nobody wants.
So, how to make people wear facemasks?
By being open as much as possible. Even better but much more difficult, by being Open. [see: “The Future is Open”
Being open is trying to get messages out that are acceptable to everyone. These are mainly positive ones. Not “You are guilty and should be punished” but, for instance, “You are a responsible person and deserve admiration if you indeed take responsibility for the sake of others, including your (grand)parents and those of your neighbors.”
And the economy? Surely, wearing facemasks now will enable us to avoid or postpone the next lockdown. Wearing facemasks is an element in our collective battle to save our economy. There is no contradiction with health.
In my experience, openness to depth almost always comes together with an openness to a level where one can say ‘yes’ to anything that passes by. No this-versus-that. No zero-sum based polity in many issues. Different people want the same things in very different ways. Still, these are the same things and we can say ‘yes’ to each other without neglecting oneself or anyone else.
In times of corona, this not only saves lives. It also saves the economy of today and tomorrow. There are lessons to be learned for the future.
Motivation without anxiety
Striving towards such has two positive sides:
- This amounts to relieving anxiety.
- This forces one to get into deep motivation-mode, by not thinking that ‘anxiety will keep the people within law and order so I don’t have to do my job as a leader.’
For this, real motivation needs to be achieved. It’s a long-term endeavor. Some of it can be put into practice right away. The long and short term should not be intermingled. They have the same underlying principles, but a different concrete way of accomplishment. One shouldn’t ask in the short term what is only possible in the long term.
Inner dissociation creates anxiety, different from fear. [see: “Difference between Fear and Anxiety“] Anxiety is probably the biggest source of stress – or is it eventually the same thing? Also stress at work, ‘boss stress’ (not of the boss himself so much, but of those who get bossed around) is anxiety-related. It goes deeper than just having fear for the pain when the boss will hit you – which bosses generally don’t do anymore. But making people anxious? Sure they do. It’s a frequently used instrument by bosses to get things done.
Contrary to this, motivation without anxiety is an instrument of leadership. Can we derive from this that leadership is of utmost importance in corona times?
Yes we can.
Open Leadership saves many lives.
See Open Leadership – Read&Do for more ideas about this.
Does this coincide with present-day experience?