How long can monetary or title benefits keep motivating us at work? The pandemic has pushed many working professionals to reassess their lives, and think about what really makes them happy. A big part in this introspection journey is identifying one’s inner motivation, suggests Sharath Jeevan in his recently released book, Intrinsic: A Manifesto To Reignite Our Inner Drive.
Jeevan, the founder-chair of Intrinsic Labs and founder of STIR Education, offers interesting case studies, research insights on internal motivation, and offers tips on how to find inner motivation.
In a Zoom interview, he talks about how to focus on intrinsic motivation. Edited excerpts:
How can one start the process of finding one’s purpose?
As individuals, we need to have a purpose statement like organisations do. For instance, if you are going to a dinner party or a coffee shop, and someone asks what you do, it’s tempting to say your job title. But that doesn’t tell me anything about you, what drives you. But if you said give a one-line mission statement of what you’re doing, I will immediately understand what drives you, and I want to help you.
What’s happened at corporate India is that we have had this title inflation that happened a lot. The pandemic has made us realise that that stuff is hot air most of the time.
I am not a believer of follow-your-passion stuff because we can become indulgent. What I found is motivated people really fall in the love with the deep problem and they see their role as contributing to solving that problem. Their contribution might shift over time as they become more senior, but they hold it as their north star. So, if they have that strong personal mission statement and if the company has a strong organisational mission statement, it’s almost like a marriage where they come together and say this is why it makes sense. It feels like a genuine kind of new deal at work where both sides feel like getting purpose and motivation from.
Also, it’s integrated to our other aspects of life. If we feel more motivated at work, secure more emotionally safe, we are much more likely to be better parents, partners, and spouses.
How receptive are business leaders to actually implementing the concept of intrinsic motivation and purpose?
What I am seeing from the corporate leaders is the sense that “let me create a space for me to reflect on my own life, what kind of person do I want to be, what’s my purpose, how will I create that in my team, and how do I role-model that in my day to day work life as a result”.
Is it more challenging for people in developing countries to focus on intrinsic motivation when they are still trying to fulfil basic needs?
In my time spent in different cities of India over the past decade, there is this phenomenon of leapfrogging. I would visit these plush campuses of tech firms, where you would be talking to software engineers in their early 20s, who were the first people to move out of a Tier-2 city and live in a metro, first to go to college, first to have this kind of lifestyle where they would head to a pub or a nice coffee shop after work.
But after a year or two of doing it, they would be talking about how they lack purpose. They were grateful for all these stuff but it wasn’t giving a deeper meaning. So, once you get all the material comforts, life moves on quickly, and we get to the self actualisation very fast. We’re seeing this need to find purpose and deep motivation in what we are doing as common global patterns. It’s not just for pampered Westerners; these are universal themes.