THE SCIENCE OF MOTIVATION


If there is a question that I have been asked numerous times over my 36 years of entrepreneurship, building leaders, competitive sports, and mentoring others, it would be why some people are more motivated than others. I believe this is a question that an overwhelming amount people seek an answer for. Even though there is no shortage of videos, books, talks, and blogs that tackle motivation from many different angles, one aspect that is not often spoken is the actual science behind becoming motivated to take action. The neurological process that takes place is the catalyst to motivation. In other words, there is a far more significant component to motivation than writing your “why” on a piece of paper, or hearing motivational speakers, or getting excited about your dreams, or reciting affirmations. These practices or disciplines are undoubtedly essential, but when you examine the scientific evidence of neural mechanisms, you realize that there is so much more to it that needs to be understood if you are to grasp why some are more motivated than others.


Neuroscientists have recently evidenced that the area of the brain known as the ventral striatum plays a significant role in the decision-making process, which precludes motivation. This region of the human brain is where deciding whether making a physical effort or taking action is worthwhile because it weighs the costs versus the benefits. The more you assess that the benefits far outweigh the costs, the more motivated you become to take action. If the costs outweigh the benefits, you are less motivated to act. Therefore, if this region of the human brain is not functioning at an optimal degree, there could be a neurological concern that could subtly affect an individual's ability to become more motivated, engaged, and even inspired to achieve a goal, a much-needed task. As a leader of others, understanding that this authentic component of motivation exists, it should allow you to either foster more patience or realize that the person you’re spending time with and motivating may not be capable of meeting your expectations.


Nature Human Behaviour (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-020-00972-y

Journal information: Nature Human Behaviour

Provided by Emory University

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