Let Self-Motivation Guide You

Self-motivation is absolutely essential to the development of personal leadership and the achievement of success. If success is defined as the progressive realization of your own worthwhile, predetermined, personal goals, then goals also play a key role in motivation.

In your quest for the development of personal leadership and success, you are looking for a way to motivate yourself toward greater creativity, responsibility, and productivity. Without a planned self-motivation program, you risk becoming one of those who have boundless energy, initiative, and interest in life, but never seem to be able to settle down long enough to achieve anything.

In designing your self-motivation program, it is important to understand the role played by automatic or basic needs in controlling desires. Five broad basic needs, first brought to general attention by Abraham Maslow, seem to be the motivators of human behavior:

  • Physical needs or biological requirements. People seldom are conscious for any length of time of the primary physical needs such as the biological requirements for food, drink, air to breathe, and shelter from heat or cold. Remember, however, that these primitive needs are extremely important. Human beings will kill to get water, resort to cannibalism to avoid starving, or become frantic for air to breathe to avoid drowning. Physical needs are important because only when they are reasonably satisfied can we concentrate on meeting higher needs.
  • Safety or security needs. Just as biological needs are rarely noticed, only in rare emergencies are safety needs obvious. Safety needs come disguised in subtle forms like the insistence on fair play, or a desire for the security of job tenure. But the only true security comes from your ideas, attitudes, and values. A job, a salary, and a title are only symbols of security. You may have them all and still feel insecure. Or you may lack all of them and still experience security. It is your attitude that counts.
  • Social or love needs. The quest for social acceptance – for belonging, for association, for friendship and love – is the need that prompts you to want a bigger home, a bigger car, more expensive clothes, and added money as symbols of social acceptance. The social needs also include the desire to belong to certain groups.
  • Ego or esteem needs. Closely associated with the need for social acceptance is the need for self-acceptance. In fact, the need for self-acceptance is largely the inward basis of the more easily observed outward need for social acceptance. The basic reasoning seems to be that acceptance by others proves that you have chosen a worthwhile value system and that your actions are to be trusted. As a result, you feel a confirmation of your sense of personal worth. Considered in this light, the needs for both social acceptance and self-respect are obviously internally motivated.
  • Self-actualization or self-fulfillment needs. Self-fulfillment needs spark the search for continuous personal development – for progressive realization of goals. But self-fulfillment needs are noticed only after other needs are moderately satisfied. If you are hungry, fear for your safety, or feel rejected, self-fulfillment seems unimportant. As a consequence, the struggle to satisfy these more basic drives dilutes and diverts energy from self-fulfillment and leaves this last, but all-important need unsatisfied.


Leadership Management® International
Reprinted with permission
Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management® International, Inc.

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