How motivation can keep you from failing!

Motivational structure, not motivation

When it comes to founding your own business, motivation has to last longer than hours, weeks, or even months. In a perfect world, the entrepreneurial motivation should be deeply rooted in your personality. That is why we talk about motivational structures in this article. These structures distinguish a lot from the motivational videos you maybe have watched on YouTube. With motivational structures, we are talking about something deeper, more influential and sustainable then those “YES! YES! DO IT! DO IT!” clips.

As Klinger & Cox (2011) defined in their Handbook of Motivational Counseling:

                A motivational structure is a person’s individual pattern of goal striving and an important determinant                         of well-being, the sense that one’s life is meaningful, and self-regulation.

The motivational structure of a person is a pattern of partly conscious, partly unconscious movers (e.g. desires, wishes, fantasies) because of which we start and continue to do things, even under burdensome circumstances. This structure is not as obvious to us as we often think. It gets shaped relatively early in life and accompanies you almost your whole existence. Which means, if you discover and work with your structure and its related movers, you have a phenomenal base on which you can build anything of importance (a company, a relationship, a partnership...). For instance, a person who grew up in almost poverty is likely to develop a strong desire for “money“, which, translated in movers means: appreciation, status, relevance and security.

How to discover your motivational structure

The easiest way, yet not the best way, of trying to discover more about your motivational structure is self-reflection. In case of founding a company, when you think about your idea or your business, think of questions like:

  • Why exactly this idea?

  • For what am I willing to take all that risk for?

  • What keeps me away from just working as an employee?

The wish for - or the need of - money plays a central role as a founder, but in this context, we try to think of money more as societies enabler, which seemingly brings you closer to your movers. So keep asking yourself questions like:

  • What will I do with all the money I earn?

  • Why do I want to do exactly this with my money?

  • What do I get out from the new materialistic property?

Now you maybe have some answers in your head or even written down. Maybe you even found the start of a pattern. But how to structure your findings? How to work with them?

That is why arguably the best way to find out about your motivational structure is the conversation with a professional coach or psychologist. Ideal would be the combination of both. Discovering the own motivational

structure can be intimate, enlightening, hurtful and exciting all at once. It can give a lot more clarity about decisions you have to make. And it also helps you dealing with ideas which cost you time and money, but you just can’t let go.

Example of motivational structures

 A successful student of economics & IT, now in his mid 30s and working in the automotive industry approached me for a session. After working in the field for a while, he founded a company which he has been developing for almost two years when he contacted me. His software company helps to optimise the automotive production processes with artificial intelligence. At the time we first talked, he told me that everything looks fine, with the first customers and also investors showing great interest. At that moment, when the first VC offers started to reach him, he felt like his motivation disappeared. From then on, self-doubts came up, anxiety, sleepless nights and daily brooding started. A very paradoxical situation.

After a few hours working together, which also included a few looks in his past, we found out that his motivational structure is imbued with the desire to help people, and more precisely to help disadvantaged people, like his younger brother. And the path he was going with his company had nothing pro-social whatsoever.

Once this was clear, we tried to align his business efforts (“optimising processes”) with his motivational structure (“helping people in need”). After a while working together, he told me that he would specialise his products to the needs of prostheses manufacturers. He never faced similar self-doubts and anxieties regarding his company again.

What is the connection between motivational structures and resilience?

As you can see from the example above...

...if your company’s purpose is close to your personal motivational structure, you will be able to deal a lot better with upcoming internal and external stressors, criticism or setbacks.

So, exploring your inner structure can be a huge benefit, not only in your private life, but also in the context of work. And it certainly helps you to build up a natural resilience capability. Of course, not everyone is able to change things as drastically as the client mentioned above. But every founder, or even every working person, should have the possibility to explore and discover his or her motivational structure to benefit from it.

To elaborate on your motivational structure, you can use measuring tools such as the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) or the Motivational Structure Questionnaire (MSQ). But keep in mind: these tools can’t replace a professional and individual conversation. If you are curious about psychology in business or want to book a session to explore your very own topics, you can reach out to Raphael directly via email rh@herkommer-consulting.de or visit his homepage www.herkommer-consulting.defor further information.

Final Thought

I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

Raphael Herkommer

Business Psychologist Die CONUFACTUR