Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I just HAVE to do it!

The remarkable match between South Africa and Australia got me thinking. Australia had set a seemingly unattainable target, a score that looked like it would stay in the record books for years to come. Yet, just hours later, South Africa went ahead and surpassed that figure in style. It was unthinkable, unimaginable. If Australia had set a target of say, 350, which by itself is a respectable total, then how many runs would South Africa have scored? Would they have reached 350 with the same nail-biting finish? Or would they have reached 350 with many more wickets and overs to spare?

My knowledge of cricket is woefully inadequate to comment on the whys and hows of this incredible feat. But I tend to think that this impossible target spurred the South Africans to such an extent that they exerted their complete potential to attain this goal. Why else, with so many thousands of matches being played, with so many fantastic players, hadn't the figure of 400 ever been reached? Then on one single day, that figure is reached and surpassed by both the playing teams?

The point of this post is not to go into raptures at the will and grit of the South African team, nor is it to debate on whether it was the greatness of the batsmen or the failure of the bowlers. That I leave to the expert. This is to explore what it is that drives a person to succeed.

Probably a lesser team would have looked at that figure of 434 and said, "Ok, lets just go out there and get it over with, now this is one target that is unreachable". What is it it that causes the same situation to motivate one person so highly, and discourage the other person equally effectively?

I have observed some common situations that inspire people, or discourage them, and I always wonder what brings about that attitude in them.

Motivated by example: There are many people who look at a successful person and think, "Yes, I want to be like him. He is my idol. I will not stop until I achieve what he has". Then there is another kind of person who looks at a famous person and says, "What shoddy work! What ignorance! How on earth has he attained such heights? I am definitely better than him. If he can do it, so can I!". Both of them seem to work equally well.

Motivated by Acknowledgement: Then there are those who get motivated by praise, or the lack of it. After a long hard day's work, or after struggling for hours at a job, if faults are found with your work, it ignites some people. "I have to do it better! I will show him next time!", they think, and forge ahead. But there are also some who need appreciation. If the work they do is met with criticism, they immediately withdraw and say, "Fine, if you do not like what I do, then don't ask me to do it for you." If these people are first praised, or thanked, and then the flaws in the work are then pointed out, they might be able accept it with grace and make sure to incorporate the corrections the next time they do the work.

Motivated by results: Then there are those who get motivated by failures. They firmly believe in "Failures are the stepping stones to success" and plod on until they prove the adage right. And then there are those who get disheartened at the first sign of failure. If their first attempt ends in success, then they have the ability to take future failures in their stride. But if the first attempt itself is a failure, you can be sure that they will immediately shut shop.

Motivated by the urge to be one-up:
If a rival, or a person you hate happens to become successful, then you tend to work hard to prove to that person (or prove it more to yourself, maybe), that you can do it too. Or if you have been insulted by somebody, and called incapable, there is the feeling of "I'll show her!". Very strong motivators, these.

Motivation by association: Scott Adams of Dilbert fame touches upon this on his very funny blog. I think that is the secret of two siblings making it big in their own fields. RK Laxman - RK Narayan, Lata-Asha, IK Gujral - Satish Gujral, lots, lots more.

These are, of course, external motivating factors. True motivation or determination comes from within. Sometimes I wonder if it is a built-in feature, that comes with only some selected fortunate "models"! Or maybe childhood circumstances, or extreme situations in life shape and model a person into being determined.

You cannot alter the inherent motivation of the person you are dealing with. But you have control on exercising external motivating factors on him. You really need to know what it is that turns off the person you are dealing with. Then you can use your words accordingly and turn the situation to your advantage.

Easier said than done! But it helps to know that maybe, just maybe, you have the power to control people! ;)


Anonymous said...

oh wow! people with lot of time to spare should not be allowed to blog as it would make life of foot soldiers ( read as valuable resources ) difficult,for reading n understanding it !

Great example. You often see that in cricket. If target is too huge people tend to play aggresively as they know they have nothing to loose. May be the same mantra works in life too but alas we cant always have situations where we can thing we have nothing to loose. More often than not we tend to think we have lot more to loose than we actually do and try to be extra careful to bring home worries and anxiety.

Life's like having a cup of coffee,
You sit by the window,
Lift the cup and take a careless slip,
Only to realize somebody forgot to put the sugar.
Too lazy to go for it,
You somehow struggle through that sugarless cup.
Till you discover undesolved sugar crystals sitting at the bottom.
Thats Life

Nice blog!


anandanubhava said...

Hey Shruthi,

Never knew u had a blog going..that too updated regularly & a super popular one :-)
Good way to keep in touch!


raj plus said...

You are right about the motivation. The oft-cited example is that of Roger Bannister. Till he broke the 4-minute barrier to run a mile, it was considered impossible. But soon after he did it, half a dozen athletes managed to emulate him.

Shruthi said...

Prashanth: Heh heh ;)) Thanks! Good analysis, and nice definition of life! :O

Anand: Hey, i did not know you had a blog either ;)) See you around ;)

Raj Plus: Oh yes, that's a good example!

chitra said...

" True motivation or determination comes from within." How true Shruthi! My question is - what do we do if this determination scares people?

Shruthi said...

Chitra: That's very common, unfortunately. That's just because they are threatened by it. There is nothing you can do about it. You cannot help being determined, can you!

vaik said...

Nice blog. Just was hopping by.
A person can be motivated or de-motivated by anything, its only how he lets the events settle inside his mind.

ANKIT said...

hi !
i think one more thing that works as a motivation is certainly the standard of life we want to live and the aspirations we have from our life...
but certainly all the factors you have mentioned certainly creates a environment that makes us feel motivated most of the time...

hey this post has made me think what works out for me ...
certainly very well written...thank you!

Shruthi said...

Vaik: Thanks! And very well-said!

Ankit: Hey Ankit, thanks, that's another great motivator too! I missed that one out. Glad it made you think. In fact, I wrote this down for the same reason too. To explore what it is that gets me going.

Nirwa said...


Very true..

Motivation is as important as criticism.. I strongly believe that he who has the hand to help, has the right to criticise.. :)

Read it at a time when I needed motivation the most! :)



P.S. - on a totally irrelevant note, a joke - Describe a fat woman waiting on a bus stop in one word - motivating! (Moti Waiting) :P :P

Shruthi said...

Nirwa: Heh heh.. I love that joke ;)

Yup, very true about criticism! Glad this helped ;)

Aditya said...

nice definition of motivation... nice blog overall... great post... motivation..ummmmm searching for some seriousness in life...neways good post.. will keep coming back....

Shruthi said...

Aditya: Thank you! :)

Aparna S Mallya said...

You have given an excellent example. Cricket seems to have tried and tested the motivationsl concept.

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