We hear a lot about “motivation.” “I just don’t feel motivated today.” “How can I motivate that person?”

Motivation is unchangeable. The deepest reasons for our actions are not negotiable; they are “hard-wired” within us. We don’t even have the ability to change our own motivation on a moment’s notice, much less someone else’s. This means that the only way to “motivate” others is to align our requests with the drives they already have. When we ask someone to do what they already want to do, no “motivational techniques” are necessary.

“Motivation is easy,” one manager said. “I either promise my employees something good or threaten them with something bad. Either way, it works.”

This reward/punishment approach (called “the carrot and the stick”) ...

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