Some people say that no one can motivate anyone else. At some level that may be true. But for practical purposes these people are just playing a game of semantics. The fact is that we can influence others — and if we do that in such a way that they are moved to do something they were not moved or were less moved to do before, it is accurate to say that we have motivated the other person. We can do it. Often we are expected to do it. And effective leaders are doing it all the time.

Since no two people are alike and, therefore, cannot be optimally motivated in exactly the same way using exactly the same enticements, the best we can hope for is to develop a framework with which to better understand the dynamics of motivation. As it turns out, these frameworks proliferate like dandelions in spring. There are dozens of theories about motivation — and many of them can be quite helpful even if none of them can exhaust the issue.

There are even a great many definitions of motivation, and a few of them are worth considering as a first step in our understanding.

  • Some coaches win w/same kids others can’t
  • Provide safe environment — where people can make mistakes, take risks, etc. (relate to desire for autonomy)

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