One fundamental truth about money and motivation

Feb 15, 2016 by Ronnie Apteker

Here is a leading question: are you motivated by money? Most people would say yes. But the truth is, money does not motivate anyone. Money moves people. Motivation comes from the fact that you believe in what you are doing. It is something that you feel, like when you are fulfilled about the work you do. Motivation comes from inspiration, passion and a sense of purpose. Many people do things they don’t enjoy simply to earn money. Doing what you love and loving what you do is all about motivation.

Let’s have a look at a colourful example. Ok, picture in your mind a cold winter’s period. We need you to come clean our offices early in the morning tomorrow, before everyone gets to work that day. We want to give the cleaning crew a day off and we need someone to pitch in. We need you. Now, is there anything we could say that would inspire you to help us? Would you feel fulfilled about doing this? No. But if we offered you a big pile of cash you would be there in a flash. Money moves people. But it does not motivate them. A very simple example, but you get the point. Now if we asked you to come in and clean up as part of a team effort to get the office ready for an important pitch that could benefit everyone? That's motivating without money – it's motivating with purpose. (More about purpose later.)

Waking up early

When you are into something you get excited. You sometimes struggle to sleep at night and you shoot out of bed the next day as soon as the sun is up. This is what a motivated person does. It is an emotional response to the possibility of doing something amazing in the world.

The hard truth in this world is that many people do things without any motivation. They do these things because they need the money to survive, and they often do it without any chance for personal growth. This does not mean however that they are not enthusiastic or happy But their work is about earning a living to provide for their families. And perhaps they are passionate and inspired. The point is that when you are motivated to do something it is not about money – it is because you have a dream and you will work around the clock to make it happen.

Choices, choices

Heads or tails. Make a choice.

A wise man once told me that money gives us choices. And that we ultimately have only once choice – to either help others or not. Money allows us to enable others to follow their dreams. Money is a resource that can help to create new vehicles. Elon Musk literally created a new vehicle.

Motivated people are positive and filled with passion. As an entrepreneur, I am inspired when I meet people who are humble and working hard, to realize a dream. Sometimes I am compelled to help them, and perhaps even invest. This is something that moneys allows – the choice to help others to spread their wings.

"A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” - Henry Ford

Money talks but wealth whispers

We all meet people who love to talk about their money. In my experience, the truly wealthy people out there don’t flaunt their riches. The more inspired ones talk more about their work and the ideas they are trying to make happen. People who only ever talk about money are boring.

The nouveau riche I avoid wherever I can. Money can’t buy class – my mother always reminds me of this.

When it comes to money, be cool.

I am blessed to have a few good mentors in my life. We all need role models – people that inspire us to do the right thing. This helps our motivation. When you follow your dream and start trying to change something in the world, there are always going to be obstacles in the way. And it is often hard to find the strength to not give up. I have found that the truly inspired people in this world, who have made successes of their endeavours, very rarely talk of the wealth they may have accumulated. But, rather, they talk about the quality of the work they achieved, the difference their offering makes. These people inspire us to keep at it. They give us strength.

If your efforts pay off and money flows your way then this is a result of people benefiting from what you have provided. The world conspires to reward those who make a positive difference.

The numbers

Numbers, numbers and more numbers. Balancing the budget, juggling our finances, meeting all our obligations. So much about life is about the numbers. And this is not only about paying the bills, but also, about turning over stones. The more doors you knock on, the better your chances of success. But when it comes to the brass tacks, one must never compromise on quality.

The battle for quality VS quantity is a challenge for all of us. The numbers are indeed important, but quality is paramount.

It is not the numbers but the desire to succeed that motivates us. The confident believe that they are going to win. Even if it’s a bit naïve... Either way, one thing is for sure, luck always favours the persistent. The more you try, the luckier you get. Once again the numbers are key – knock away, but never forget the substance.

If you look at some other numbers, the “stats”, as they are called, then, it may be a sobering and scary fact. Yes, the numbers, er, odds, are very often stacked against all of us. This drive to climb the mountain is easier to focus on by not knowing the stats or facts. If we had to focus on the failure rates or the chances of success then most of us would never try. Often, not knowing may be a good thing.

If you do succeed then there are the numbers that verify and acknowledge. Yes, when we are doing something that people value then we see all kinds of numbers. Those numbers are a sign – keep going!

Purpose

Purpose is something that is never reachable. A compelling business should never stop delivering its product or service. Purpose may evolve over time as a company adapts to new markets and rolls out new services and product offerings. Values, on the other hand, never change. They describe how the company behaves, today, tomorrow and every day in the future.

A company’s purpose is an eternal journey. Disney, for example, can never make children smile enough. There are always more children in the world, and tomorrow is always another day. As long as they have imagination, they will always find new ways to make children smile. Boeing will always find new ways to enhance the quality of life. Merck will always find new ways to help people with medicine. And so it goes for all companies. As long as we have creativity and energy, we will always find new ways to live our collective purposes.

Our motivation and drive comes from this sense of purpose. From the belief that we are making a difference in the world. But it is not easy. One has to be strong and one has to laugh. A lot.

Of course, not everyone is driven by a sense of purpose and so many people are simply trying to pay the bills. One has to respect anyone who is trying to make a living – paying the bills is a real struggle for many, especially as the rising cost of living continues to challenge us all.

Summing up

Making money is quite uninspiring if that is the principle reason for one’s existence. But discovering a purpose or a reason and applying it can result in untold fortunes as one realises fulfilment, passion and the ability to make a meaningful contribution. Make a difference and there is a good chance you will make money as a consequence. Labours of love are all about motivated people. The ones that never gave up, and worked for years and years, all have stories to share, of their incredible journeys.

Motivated people are driven by belief, in one’s self, and in what it is that you are sharing with the world. There is no substitute for hard work, and as this old wise saying reminds us, “there is a close connection between getting up in the world and getting up in the morning”. People who are motivated work hard, and from this comes personal growth. This is my experience.

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