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 than tangibles and the cognitive domain:

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

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

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.

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