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Intrinsic Motivation: Motivated from Within

By: Ken Austin

All motivation is self-motivation. Even though there are many methods that leaders use to increase the motivation of followers, the most successful motivators enable the ability to discover and use self-motivation.

For the individual who desires to be self-motivated, learning the rules and methods of motivation and following them increase the likelihood of success in any endeavor.

The whole subject of motivation as a field of study is relatively new. In the not so distant past, most people were motivated by the fear of loss to work hard and be loyal to those above them.

The 20th century saw an explosion of opportunity and freedom for work and mobility that had never existed before. Employers began to realize that a discontented worker could just go somewhere else and find other work with relative ease. This lead to a serious and wide-ranging study of the motivation to work.

Psychologist Frederick Herzberg was one of the most influential names in business management. His study of workplace motivation led to a theory of motivation that focused on two factors: hygiene and motivation.


Hygiene refers to the removal of dissatisfying elements in the workplace. Motivation refers to creating or increasing satisfaction. The two are mostly independent of each other. One may be highly motivated in one’s work and still be dissatisfied with the work environment. One may also be satisfied by the workplace itself, but be unmotivated in the work.

For the person who is striving to create and maintain self-motivation, knowing these factors can help make that job easy and effortless. By taking all the steps necessary to remove all the dissatisfying factors in your work environment, you can prevent the unnecessary loss of intrinsic motivation due to short-term dissatisfaction. Learning and applying all the factors of satisfying or motivating employees to yourself will help create the long-term intrinsic motivation to maintain a positive attitude and productive work for yourself.

Devote some time to examining all the aspects of your own work environment – the conditions of where you do your work. Remove or decrease as many of the dissatisfying elements in your work environment as you can. Look for ways to eliminate as much “pain” from your workplace as possible. Then you can begin to increase the ways in which you reward yourself with satisfying elements of your work.

By taking the lessons of workplace motivation and satisfaction and using them as a model for your own work, no matter where it takes place, you increase the chances of maintaining and increasing your intrinsic motivation to persevere.

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