Motivation is the key to personal development and making things happen in our lives, but staying motivated isn’t always an easy task. Each of us has a unique set of "subconscious motivators" that determine how we act, think and feel in any given situation. But what drives these impulses, and how can we use a better understanding of them to help reach our fullest potential? Following are great insights on becoming (and staying) motivated, and suggestions for what to do if you just can’t get into gear.
This week, the Golden State is welcomes by Destination California -- Northstar Meetings Group's premier hosted-buyer event for planners and incentive professionals looking to book business in the sunny destination. Attendees will meet with California's top hotels, CVBs, DMCs and venues, as well as hear from industry experts on a number of pertinent topics. One session, presented by Arthur Sarkissian, founder and CEO of Here and Now Consulting, will explore what we gain from insights into our own motivation, as well as how to motivate others in a way that will drive our teams to greater heights.
Ahead of Destination California, we caught up with Sarkissian to get some more motivation information.
Motivation and Success: Getting It, Giving It, Living It
Q: What exactly are subconscious motivators?
Arthur Sarkissian: Subconscious motivators are imprinted thoughts, behaviors and impulses that determine how we act, think and feel in any given situation. They're shaped at a very early age -- by about 15 years old -- and are a combination of both nature and nurture that are unique from person to person.
We know that biology determines one's temperament and personality (at least to some degree). While subconscious motivators are neither, they are in the same family. In terms of nurture, our early life circumstances, critical events, interactions with parents, teachers, etc. shape our beliefs about ourselves, others and the world. These beliefs, in turn, can determine our subconscious motivators, or our needs, and the ways we navigate through the world.
Q: Can we change our motivators depending on the situations/goals we are currently focusing on?
Sarkissian: Subconscious motivators are not fluid. Once they are developed, they mostly stay the same. The behaviors and different goals we have, however, can definitely change depending on situations, context or stage of your life.
Your needs, or the things that drive certain behaviors, will be the same whether you are in your parent role, spouse role or work role. However, the behaviors will certainly vary. This is what is so unique about Print -- a program created by the Paul Hertz Group to reveal the unconscious motivations that drive a person’s longterm goals, comfort zone and so on. It does not simply focus on the behaviors we see above the surface, but seeks to explain the reasons for one's behaviors. Again, the behaviors will look different in the different domains of your life, but the reasons behind them will stay the same.
Q: Can you elaborate on the concepts of “best self” and “shadow”? What does an understanding of these terms better help us accomplish?
Sarkissian: "Best self" is the version of a person that occurs when their subconscious motivators are met and thriving. They are the most effective, productive and appropriate ways that one is capable of carrying out tasks. Conversely, "shadow" represents the opposite. It is the least effective, least productive and most inappropriate version of a person.
Best-self behaviors are highly correlated with superior job performance, while shadow behaviors are highly correlated with poor performance and feeling unmotivated. Shadow behaviors also correlate with termination of employment. So, from this perspective, you can see why it’s so important to understand these concepts and to be able to recognize when you are in best self vs. in shadow.
Interestingly, best self and shadow are the same thing. We view shadow behaviors as the overly amped-up version of best self. It’s when best-self behaviors are overexaggerated that they become detrimental. To use a metaphor, it’s similar to when the volume of a beautiful piece of music is turned up too loud. There is always a threshold, beyond which it becomes raucous and a nuisance to our senses. It is still the same piece of music, but when turned up too loud, it becomes unpleasant and even difficult to tolerate.
Q: How do our attitudes and motivations impact others? How do subconscious motivators impact our day to day interactions?
Sarkissian: Our subconscious motivators have everything to do with how we interact with each other. Remember, these are the needs that drive our behaviors. When our needs are met, we tend to be in best self. When our needs are not met, we fall into shadow. This becomes a transactional model in that our behaviors with others both influence and are influenced by how others react to us.
For example, if my subconscious motivator is for things to be perfect and correct, I’m going to have a very hard time interacting or working with someone for whom this is not important, someone who flies by the seat of their pants. I might enter shadow and start lecturing that person, pushing them too hard to do things exactly right. Naturally, this person might enter their own shadow and their reaction to me might not be so favorable. Then, conflict ensues.
When there is conflict, unfortunately, people don’t stop and say, “Let me try to correct my behavior to resolve this.” Instead, we go deeper into shadow and interact ineffectively. This can go on and on until there is a big blow-up. Thus, it is very important to know your subconscious motivators.
Q: How can we use the understanding of motivation to advance our relationships for the better?
Sarkissian: To improve our relationships, it is very important to know not only your own subconscious motivators and best self and shadow behaviors, but also to know your triggers. Print is extraordinary in that it provides you with an even deeper understanding of yourself by spelling out common triggers based on your unique combination of subconscious motivators, or your Print. Once you learn about your triggers, you can keep an eye on them and use tools to keep from reacting explosively or harshly, and to maintain your cool and react effectively in order to preserve the relationship and work toward common goals.
Q:What challenges are there in trying to beat a lack of motivation? How can we work on reshaping our mindset?
Sarkissian: Motivation is very complicated and can be influenced by many things. Goal setting can be intrinsic, meaning coming from within, or extrinsic, meaning coming from factors outside of yourself. There is a thing called mindsets. People either have either a fixed or growth mindset:
- Fixed mindset people are motivated by things such as success and recognition. They tend to believe you either have a natural talent or you don’t. So if you succeed, that means you have a natural talent, thus you’ll continue to work toward goals and receive the accolades. Motivation for those with a fixed mindset is often extrinsic.
- People with a growth mindset believe that anyone can accomplish great things if they set their mind to it and work extremely hard. Growth mindset people are in it for the journey, not just the win, and their motivation is mostly intrinsic.
In addition to mindset, biology can make a difference in the way we act and feel. Dopamine levels absolutely influence one’s level of motivation. The good news is that there are ways to increase dopamine levels in your brain in order to increase motivation.
Finally, your environment can either be motivating or demotivating. It is natural to be more motivated if you have encouragement and reinforcement from your environment, and less motivation if you don’t. So, how can you reshape your mindset?
First, increase your awareness. Figure out whether you are a growth or fixed mindset individual. Do you tend to have higher or lower levels of dopamine? And what kind of environment are you in? Then do something about each.
You can reframe your thinking to move into more of a positive mindset. You can increase your levels of dopamine through exercise, music and even dancing. And finally, you can try to restructure your environment to be more reinforcement-focused for hard work and effort vs. punishing for lack of achievement.
Those attending Destination California (beginning tomorrow) can expect to explore this and many other subjects further. For more information regarding the event, including Sarkissian's presentation on event tech and the evolution of live programs, click here.
Arthur Sarkissian, founder and CEO of Here and Now Consulting, graduated from the University of Western Sydney with a double major in business and hospitality management. He joined Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, where he held multiple roles over 12 years, including regional director positions in Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and the United States.
In 2013, Sarkissian founded Here and Now Consulting LLC, based in Los Angeles, specializing in the design and facilitation of executive-development programs across numerous industries, including finance, hospitality, aviation, health care, retail, entertainment and sports. His mentoring programs for high-potential leaders have been used across the world. He has designed and facilitated more than 250 executive retreats and development programs with an emphasis on team dynamics and creating strategies to shift organizational cultures. Sarkissian's Convergence Executive Coaching experience helps high-level leaders unlock their potential, reduce their negative triggers and build highly effective teams using targeted tools and methodology.