Levels of Motivation: #4 of the Five Best Life Coaching Skills

September 15, 2015 by John Andrew Williams

This is part four of the five part series of my favorite life coaching concepts of all time. Here is a quick review of the five skills that we are covering in this mini series:

#1: Levels of Listening

#2: Coach the Client, Not the Problem (A coach’s mindset)

#3: Simple, Curious Questions

#4: Levels of Motivation

#5: Well-Designed Actions

These are all concepts that are essential to being a successful life coach.

#4 Levels of Motivation

Having an awareness of the different ways that people motivate themselves helps you stay motivated as you move through the various challenges you face.

Your method of motivation directly impacts the the quality of the action that you will take.

Just like levels of listening, the levels of motivation refer to the first person, second person, and third person, grammatically speaking.

Level I: Motivation for the sake of self

Level one motivation is being motivated for the sake of yourself. Most people, most the time, like to hang out in this motivation. I know I do a lot of the time. It is themes natural, and it is not necessarily bad. But there are some drawbacks to being motivated for yourself. The biggest stress is the amount of pressure.

Think of something that you want to accomplish. Think about how it is going to benefit you and about all of the wonderful things that will happen in your life. Now consider all of the bad things that are going to occur if it does not happen. Notice how your anxiety increases and how you start thinking about all the shortcuts you can take to achieve your goal in as little work as possible. Self-motivation is challenging to maintain when you are dealing with a complex project or something that you really care about.

In order to see why this is, it is useful to look at level II motivation to see how it differs from level I.

Level II: Motivation for the sake of others

Like the second person in your English grammar class, or Latin class, or even perhaps your foreign language class, second person refers to the use of the singular plural, you.

Second-level motivation is doing something for the sake of someone else. It is a higher form of motivation that involves empathy. When you are looking at a project that you would like to accomplish, and you think about doing it for the sake of someone else, notice how your anxiety goes down.

The distinction in level II motivation is that you want to do the task for the sake of another person.

If you are doing a task for the sake of someone else, and you don’t want to do the work or if it is something you are not that interested in, level II motivation becomes extremely challenging. This is especially true for younger people.

Imagine all the students you’re going to influence and impact while managing a successful life coaching practice. If you are a parent, you probably often find yourself doing something for the sake of your child. For instance, you probably often think about all of the benefits to yourself for staying healthy. But now, think about staying healthy so that you can live more actively and play with your kids or grandkids.

When you tap into that empathetic, level II motivation, your stress levels for yourself go down and your excitement levels go up.

You begin to feel how amazing it will be for you to be able to accomplish something with someone else or for someone else. It is a really powerful form of motivation that most young people simply do not tap into because they are so used to having to do actions and activities for the sake of themselves.

Level III: Motivation for the sake of the world

I don’t usually make a distinction between level II a level III motivation. However, there is a difference between being motivated for the sake of someone you know and someone you don’t know. When the person you are motivated to do something for has a name, that is level II. However, sometimes, we are motivated by someone or something that we cannot exactly put our finger on. Level III motivation is more like motivation for the greater humanity, or perhaps the world. The desire to get something done is still beyond oneself, but it not directed at a particular person.

I like using this form of motivation when working on larger projects, or when I really need a push to get myself moving on something. It works great for larger-picture ideas and goals for students as well.

The Importance of Levels of Motivation

Motivation really starts to take hold when you can begin to change gears between level I, II, and III. Much like in a car, you must select the correct gear depending on what you need to get yourself moving. Are you doing this project for the sake of yourself? How does your motivation change when you think of doing it for someone else? What happens when you think of the impact that your work is going to have on the world?

It is not that any one of these levels is better or worse than the others. Generally speaking, level I motivation is not as sustainable as levels II or III, however it does have its place. The important thing is for you to be aware of these different levels of motivation and tap into them whenever they are most useful to you. This awareness will impact the quality of your motivation, your energy level to get things done, and ultimately, the results that you get.

Also read: Well Designed Actions: #5 of the Five Best Coaching Skills

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