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The psychology of self-motivation | | Scott geller


Translator: Quan SunReviewer: Denise RQThank you. Thank you.Beyond boundaries.What a theme, huh?Now, when I think of boundaries,I think of rules, regulations,and restrictions.And I think of the parents,and the teachers, and the supervisors,who hold us accountablewith regard to those boundaries.That's not a bad thing.Yeah, I know, if you're like me,I need supervisors,I need someone holding me accountableto do the right thing.But beyond boundariesis something different.I think of those leaders, those teachers,those supervisors, those parentswho inspire usto go beyond the call of duty,to do more than we have to,to do it not because they tell us,but because we want to.I would like to share with youwhat the research saysabout how to make that happen.

And not just for other people,but for yourself.Here is the deal, how could we inspirepeople and ourselves to be self-motivated?There is another word.It's called "empowerment".You've heard that word, right?Now, the management definitionof empowerment is,"Get it done. Just get it done.With fewer resources and less time,I empower you, make it happen."I'm talking about feeling empowered.That's different.Feeling empoweredis when you're self-motivated.Now, if you want to knowif you feel empowered,or if your child, your student,your worker feels empowered,ask them three questions.If they say yes to these three questions,they will feel empowered.

And by the way,this is not based on common sense, this is based on research.But you've all been there,so it'll feel like common sense.Question number one: can you do it?Albert Bandura calls it self-efficacy.Do you believe you can do it?Do you have the time,the knowledge, and the trainingto do what we are asking you to do?If you answer yes, good.Second question: will it work?Do you believe that what we're asking youto do, the process, will work?Albert Bandura calls thatresponse-efficacy:believing that the behaviorwould lead to the ultimate outcome.By the way, that takes education.We have to show them the data,we might show them some theory,we show them, teach themwhy this might work.

I just used the word 'education'.Earlier, I used the word 'training'.Is there a difference?In elementary school,we call it education.Middle school: education.High school: education.College: higher education. (Laughter)Then you go to industry,what do you call it?Training.You have your training department.There must be a difference.Well, you know the difference.Do you want your kids to havesex education or sex training?(Laughter)And your kids might answerthe question differently.(Laughter)Because you know that training meansyou do the behavior and you get feedback.That's powerful. Powerful.Have you ever heard this word'online training'?It's an oxymoron, isn't it?I mean training is to watch the behavior,but online training islike plastic silverware,jumbo shrimp, legal brief, country music.(Laughter)I mean, it doesn't work.

OK, so if you answer yes,till it will work,third question: is it worth it?So we've had a training question,we've had an educational question;this is the motivational question.Do you believe the consequences--This is about the consequences.B.F. Skinner taught us this:"selection by consequences".Dale Carnegie quotedB.F. Skinner and saidthat from the day you were born,everything you did was because youwanted something for doing it.Consequences. Is it worth it?So you have to convince peoplethat it's worth it.Now, by the way, if you answeryes to those three questions,you feel competent, am I right?You feel competentat doing worthwhile work.You've all been there.When you feel competentat doing worthwhile work,you're more likely to be self-motivated.You've been there.No one has to look over you.Here is the challenge leaders, teachers.How do you inspire peopleto feel competent?Well, you give them feedback.You give them recognition.You show them they are competent.OK. I got one more another C word: choice.

Your common sense will tell you.When you believeyou have a sense of autonomy,a sense of choice in what you're doing,you feel more self-motivated.B.F. Skinner taught us that, too,in his book "Beyond Freedom and Dignity",way back in 1971.Reading that book changed my life,because I realizedthat I am controlled by consequences.But sometimes I don't feel controlled.When I'm workingfor a pleasant consequence,it feels good, it feelslike I'm working to get something.When I'm working to avoidan aversive consequence,I feel controlled.That is called negative reinforcement.So here is a challenge, leaders:how do we get peopleto become success seekers,rather than failure avoiders?First day of Introductory Psychology class- I teach two classes of 600 students,maybe some of you've beenin that class and remember -the first day I say,"How many are here to avoid failure?"

And 80% raise your hand.I say, "Well, thanks for coming,I know you're motivated,but you are not happy campers.You probably told your friends,'I've got to go to class.It's a requirement.'Not 'I get to go to class.It's an opportunity.'You probably woke up to an alarm clocknot an opportunity clock."(Laughter)It's all in how you see it.Really, it's all in how you see it.It's your paradigm.It's how you communicate to othersand how you communicate to yourself.So, Ellen Langer saidin her book "Mindfulness",- and psychologists know -"When you perceive choice,you perceive motivation."You're more motivated.So the deal is, for yourselfsit back and reflect,be mindful of the choices you have.And talk about being a success seeker,rather than a failure "avoider".It's all how you talk, how you communicateto yourself and to others.I got a fourth C word: community.

Powerful word.Psychologists knowthat social support is critical.People who perceivea sense of relatedness,a sense of connection with other people,feel motivated, and they are happier.I want to recite a poem.It's called "The cookie thief"by Valerie Cox.And as I recite this poem,- there is only two characters,a men and a lady -put yourself in the situation.Be mindful, think about the situationand what you would do.OK? Here we go.A woman was waitingat an airport one nightWith several [long] hoursbefore her flight.She hunted for a book in the airport shopBought a bag of cookiesand found a place to drop.She was engrossed in her bookbut happened to seeThat the man beside heras bold as could be[Grabbed] a cookie or twofrom the bag between.

Which she tried to ignore to avoid a sceneShe read, munched cookies,and watched the clockAs this gutsy cookie thiefdiminished her stockShe was getting more irritatedas the minutes ticked byThinking, "If I wasn't so nice,I'd blacken his eye."With each cookie she took, he took one tooWhen only one was leftshe wondered what he'd doWith a smile on his faceand a nervous laughHe took the last cookieand he broke it in half(Laughter)He offered her a half as he ate the otherShe snatched it from himand thought, "Oh, brother.This guy has some nerve,and he’s also rude.[Why] he didn't even show any gratitude."She had never knownwhen she had been so galled.

And sighed with reliefwhen her flight was calledShe gathered her belongingsand headed for the gateRefusing to look backat the thieving ingrateShe boarded the plane and sank in her seatThen she sought her bookwhich was almost completeAs she reached in her baggage,she gasped with surpriseThere was her bag of cookiesin front of her eyes(Laughter)"If mine are here,"she moaned with despair"Then the others were his,and he tried to share.""Too late to apologize,"she realized with griefThat she was the rude one,the ingrate, the thief.So, where were you, when I was--Where were you? Who's side were you on?Were you thinking independent?Or interdependent?I don't blame youif you think independent.That's how we are raised.Nice guys finish last.Squeaky wheel gets the grease.Gotta blow your own horn.Independent.We come in this life of oursdependent of others,and then we can't waitto become teenagers.We are too old to do what kids do.Too young to do what adults do.So that we will do that nobody elsewould do to assert our independence.And some of us gets stuck there.We are stuck.I'll do it myself. I don't need you.Not good.We need each other.We have to have each other's back.We need a sense of community.

This independence culture that we got,we have to move to interdependent.OK, four "C" wordsthat can fuel self-motivation,and I think can fuelactively caring for people.Let me tell you a storyto put it all together.It happened over 60 years ago.I remember it like yesterday.My parents asked me, "Hey, Scott.How would you like to get drum lessons?How would you like to play the drums?"Oh man! Would I ever?I'm thinking of Buddy Richand Gene Krupa.Most of you guys don't know those names,but they were the drummers.In those days, the drumwas in front of the band.They had White Pearl drum sets,and I saw it myself. That was my vision.I had a vision: consequences.

That was my vision.And I said, "Yeah, I wantto take drum lessons."So the teacher would bringhis drum set next to mine.I didn't have a nice drum like this.My parents bought mea beatable drum at an auction.And they said to me, "If you get better,if your teacher tells us you get--- they are holding me accountable -teacher says you are getting better,we will get you a better snare drum,and then a bass drum,and then some cymbals."And that was my vision,and that kept me going:consequences.So the teacher would come in,and he would show me stuff:this is how--, left hand;this is how Buddy Rich playswith his left hand and his right hand.and then he'd do things like a flam.(Drum)Can you hear that at the back? You OK?And this is a rimshot.(Drum)He would show me stuff.I was just 10 years old, remember?And when he showed me stuff,I felt, "Wow!"

He showed me this little simple drumbeat,"Watch me, Scott, watch this."(Drum)And I practiced it. And I did it.I am feeling competent.He showed me a paradiddle, "Listen.(Playing drums) Paradiddle, paradiddle.""You go home and practice; next week,I want to see your paradiddling.I said, "Watch this."(Drumming)And I said, "Watch this."(Drumming)He said, "That's a double paradiddle.We didn't get there yet."I am really ahead. (Laughter)Because I'm self-motivated.I feel competent.I'm walking through Newberg High School,Allentown, Pennsylvania.I see the music teacher, and he says,"I've heard you're learningto play the drums."I said, "Yeah! I'm getting good."He said, "You can march in the band.You can be the snare drummer."Wow! That felt good. Another vision.Then the teacher comes into my--- these are private lessons, by the way,two dollars, that was a long time ago -He said, "Scott! Ready to do a drum roll."I said, "Of course,I'm ready for a drum roll."And he says, "Watch this, Scott!Here you go. Watch this."(Drumming)"Hmm... could you do that again?""Scott. 

This is easy. Watch me."(Drumming)"Now, you practice that, and next week,I want to see your drum roll."He comes back the next weekand says, "How is your drum?""Hmm... I can do a paradiddle."(Drumming)"That's regression. Ha-ha.I want to see a drum roll."Week after week,now we're talking about distress.Now we're talking about apathy.Now we are talkingabout learned helplessness.That's what psychologists call it.I remember walkingthrough that elementary schooland seeing the music teacher who said,"So, Scott, how are you doing?How are the drums?""Huh, not so good.I can't do a drum roll."You know, like adultsalways say, " Never say can't.You can be anythingyou want to be, Scott.""No. I can't do a drum roll.I've tried and I tried,and I've kind of given up."And he says, "Scott, when you everget overwhelmed, break it down."Break it down. 

Can you do a paradiddle?""Yeah!"(Drumming)"OK, what's the second beat?""Two beats."(Drumming)"Yeah. Well, that's a drum roll, Geller.It's two beats."(Drumming)You go home and practice,and you say, "Dad and mama,"- remember I was just 10 -"You go 'dad and mama, dad and mama'."(Drum)It's a drum roll.That teacher came back the next week,"OK, Scott. I guessyou can't do a drum roll."I said, "Watch this."(Drumming)He said, "Wow!How did you learn to do that?"

And I showed my teacher.(Drumming)I taught my teacher. 10 years old.He said, "I've forgotten.I got into the habit of just doing this(Drumming)and I forgot that it is two beats.You taught me how to teachthe drum roll, Scott.There is a lesson there:we can always learn from each other.We need to have the humilityto accept feedback,and the courage to speak up.And we need to help each otherfeel self-motivated.How?Give them the perception of competence.Teach them about 'consequences drive us'.Let them perceive choice,and let them know it's community.We're all in this together.And we need each other.Thank you.(Applause)

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