What does science have to say about success and motivation? originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
When Stanford GSB professor Jeffrey Pfeffer studied successful executives and analyzed the qualities they all had in common, the #1 thing was not smarts, talent, or people skills. It was energy levels. If you’re tired and unmotivated, it almost doesn’t matter what other strengths you have. People who do nothing tend to achieve nothing. So knowing what motivates you can be critical to success.
Harvard professor Teresa Amabile’s research showed that a feeling of progress in your efforts was the single most motivating variable. So focus on “small wins.” Better to break big challenges down into smaller achievable chunks than to attack massive problems head on and engage in grueling, drawn-out trench warfare where it’s hard to feel like you’re getting closer to your goal.
In Dan Pink’s excellent book “Drive” he said that it was important to remember AMP: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. We’re more motivated when we don’t feel like we’re being told what to do, when we feel like it’s a skill we’re getting better at, and when we feel like there’s a purpose to what we’re doing, where our efforts contribute to the greater good.
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