Archives For Motivation

Spock was my favourite Star Trek character because he was so logical and rational. As a young man I sought out the facts and tried to emulate that calm, logical and rational perspective that I saw in my Vulcan role model. For many years I really believed I was making all my decision based on purely cognitive calculations. I took this to the next level and majored in Philosophy as an undergraduate and even started a Masters in Philosophy. Despite my desire to be logical and rational I struggled with aspects of my life that couldn’t be so easily explained by logic and continually strived to develop my reason to a high enough level where I would be able to control my passions and desires. As the years progressed my studies shifted to include a bit of Psychology but I still tried to explain away everything from a purely logical or rational perspective.

In the past 10 years I have shifted my thinking based on sound research to recognize that the head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been and now I recognize that we aren’t a logical and rational as we hope to be. I really wished I would have come across the following research based ideas that confirm that we are motivated and perhaps even controlled by intangibles or the affective domain much more then then tangibles and the cognitive domain:

Science Of Persuasion | Robert Cialdini

Cialdini, R. B. (2008). Influence: Science and practice (5th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

How to Use Pre-suasive Tactics on Others – and Yourself | Robert Cialdini

Cialdini, R. B. (2016). Pre-Suasion: A revolutionary way to influence and persuade. New York NY: Simon and Schuster.

Are we in control of our decisions? | Dan Ariely –

Ariely, D. (2016). Payoff: The hidden logic that shapes our motivations. Simon & Schuster/TED.

While we are on the topic of motivations I don’t think I can leave off Daniel Pink’s seminal works:

RSA ANIMATE: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Pink, D. H. (2011). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Penguin.

The article Rethinking How Students Succeed in The Standford Social Innovation Review points a wave of noncognitive skill initiatives (affective domain) that holds promise for making teachers more effective and students more successful. The article also points to research shows that students who develop social and emotional learning (SEL) skills and academic mindsets (for example, a belief that one’s abilities can improve with effort) do better in school.

Whenever you mention the growth mindset it is imperative to point to Carol Dweck’s work Growth Mindset: New Psychology for Success

In the The Behavioural ScienceGuys video David Maxfield and Joseph Grenny make the argument:

When you are trying to influence people who need motivation and not information, don’t offer more information.

They warn us that if you offer to much information you can provoke people to reactance. The best way to motivate people is not with speeches but with questions.

Consider the following questions:

  • What is the goal/purpose/intent of your message?
  • Are you motivating people or are you just providing more information?
  • Are you targeting the head or the heart?
  • What is the last sentence or phrase that your viewer will hear?
  • What will they remember?
  • What is your call to action or do you even have a call to action?

In the Power of Words video a simple shift in words moves from sharing information to motivating people to share the blind man’s misfortune.

Finally, consider the heartfelt power of the following six word story attributed to Ernst Hemingway:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn

Are you using the power of images, video and words to influence and motivate people or are you just dumping more information?


Gardner, A. [Andrea Gardner]. (2010, February 23). The power of words [Video file]. Retrieved from

For sale: baby shoes, never worn. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved December 12, 2016 from,_never_worn

Maxfield, D., & Grenny, J. [VitalSmarts Video]. (2015, January 5). How to change people who don’t want to change: The behavioral science guys [Video file]. Retrieved from

We are all compelled by a good story and when we wish to communicate with our friends, colleagues, or those we just want to influence the best way to do that is with a well crafted story. Nancy Duarte argues that an idea is the single most powerful idea and everything we see around us started as an idea in someone’s mind and that they communicated it in a way that became reality. She also warns us that leaders must communicate ideas in a way that compels action or the idea will die.

So how do we communicate in a way that make our ideas come alive?

Whenever I explore an idea or pursue and answer to this type of question I will watch countless youtube videos and read as many books as I can find on the topic and then try to narrow down my search to the best resources that I can use. The following are some of the best videos and books that will help you craft your message in a compelling way and make your ideas come alive:

Nancy Duarte is one of the leaders in visual communications and the following videos and books are your best starting point:

Nancy Duarte: How to Tell a Story

Nancy Duarte: How to Create Better Visual Presentations

Duarte Design’s Five Rules for Presentations by Nancy Duarte

Can creating a compelling message be as simple as following these 5 rules? YES!

  1. Treat your audience as king
  2. Spread your ideas and move people
  3. Help them see what you are saying
  4. Practice design not decoration
  5. Cultivate healthy relationships

Nancy Duartes’s book Resonate is one of the best resources you can find to help you create compelling stories and I have a well worn copy in my library. You an also view the book online at!page0

Nancy’s TED talk TEDxEast – Nancy Duarte uncovers common structure of greatest is another great summary of the ideas presented in the book Resonate:

Just confirm that I have looked at more then just Duarte’s work you can also find the following resources useful:

Garr Reynolds book Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery is another well work book on visual communication that I have in my library.

How Presentation Zen Fixed My Bad PowerPoints

How to avoid death By PowerPoint | David JP Phillips | TEDxStockholmSalon

A list of resources on effective communication would be incomplete if it didn’t include or reference work of Edward Tufte. He has several books that are worth the read but at minimum one should explore Beautiful Evidence and The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within.