Thursday, March 22, 2012


Psychologists tell us that people are motivated two ways: extrinsically and intrinsically.  They all agree that intrinsically is better, because it doesn't depend on circumstances.

Someone who is EXtrinsically motivated gets his or her reason for doing any behavior from outside him or herself.  Here are some examples of outside reasons: a paycheck, a performance review, a gift used as a bribe, applause, or guilt.

A person who is INtrinsically motivated does things because he or she wants to, and that person does not have to rely on the reward or threat of another person or institution to do those things.  Love, high self-esteem, compassion ... these things come from inside - and when people don't notice what that person does, it might hurt occasionally, but it isn't the be-all and the end-all.  It's not a deal-breaker. 

An extrinsically motivated person needs recognition. All the time.  Every day.  Continually.  Kind of like an addict needs drugs. There's an incessant craving for affirmation.

And not only that, he or she thinks that recognition and applause motivates everyone.  So that person is always wanting to point out the accomplishments of others so as to make them feel good and want to do more.  And he or she points them out in public, usually. After all, if the appreciation of one is good, then the adulation of hundreds is worth more, right? 

An intrinsically motivated person prefers to be "incognito".  Calling attention to something this person does is extreme motivation to give it up, not to continue.  There is an inner bubbliness, a secret delight in doing a task well, whether anyone sees or not.  Don't get me wrong: paychecks are kind of necessary in today's world, and once in a while it's nice to hear encouragement (just privately, not in front of a whole crowd of people) - but the primary motivation is in knowing that the person has helped some people and made their life better.  

There is a part of me that is extrinsically motivated.  I guess there is - or I wouldn't have a blog, I guess.  But a much larger part of me prefers to go "incognito".  That part of me cringes when there's that "Oh everybody look!  Isn't that person (or group of people) amazing?" thing going on.  That part of me wants to just disappear - or to scream out, "I didn't do it for YOU!"  (Of course, that would be rude. True, but rude.)  

I just have to let it go.  And offer any external praise - or criticism - up to the One to whom I live my life. I can't live in a box or in a cloister.  I  need to understand that if I am living a life that puts God first, then there are going to be people that are affected.  Some are going to like it - some aren't - and it doesn't matter what they say because in the final analysis, after all the clapping and booing stops .....

.... it matters what only One says.

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