Motivation Moments, Fear, and Desire

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Motivation moments

Motivation Moments, Fear, and Desire

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Motivation is really interesting. People sometimes argue about motivation, what works, and what doesn’t. I often suggest that in the workplace people can be motivated through fear or inspiration. Of course, we should be compelled to motivate through inspiration. Have you thought about motivation moments?

Fear or Desire

Consider some of these of moments:

  • The biggest order you’ve ever received
  • Watching a co-worker being escorted off the property
  • A colleague being promoted
  • The CEO being fired
  • Announcement of hiring 10% more staff
  • A new computer system
  • It’s Friday, or Monday
  • A birthday party for Susan, but not for Jack
  • Anger about receiving too many phone calls
  • A calendar appointment for a four hour meeting
  • Your annual review is today
  • You just received your annual bonus
  • The company has been sold
  • People in business suits hanging around that you don’t recognize
  • Your job description was changed

Motivation in the workplace has much to do with the organizational culture and climate. It is the actions and behaviors of the group that produce the results. We may ask the question, “What is our focus?” Recognizing that what we focus on is what we get.

Movement is important, so is momentum. Your workplace should be filled with action. What may be most important is understanding the triggers for action. Fear drives change, but so does the hope, faith, and belief in positive change because it is admirable or desirable.

Motivation Moments

People may hurry across the train tracks because there is a something they are excited about on the other side. They may also move fast to get across the tracks when they see a train coming, not thinking or caring about what is on the other side.

Organizational leaders should think carefully about how they motivation moments. The message sent becomes part of the culture. Perception is reality, and fear as well as the desire for positive gain are both motivators.

Keep in mind that fear may cause action, but people sometimes discover what is on the other side is not desirable.

What motivation moments have you spotted recently?


Originally posted on October 5, 2017, last updated on February 7, 2020.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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