When you drive yourself from within, you are the master of your destiny
Too often when we want to motivate ourselves or others we focus on external (or 'Extrinsic') forces - rewards, punishment, pressure etc. But extrinsic motivators tend to become hygiene factors after a while, or worse, become de-motivators: Take travel for example: it is a great motivator when one is single, but the same is a serious problem when you are 40, two kids in schools and a spouse in a different job.
Is a different life possible? Think Steve Jobs, for instance. After his umpteenth million dollars or country visited, what made him still be motivated? It really was his inherent curiosity, seeking challenge, and the quest for personal satisfaction.
So, how do we find this intrinsic motivation? Should one be ‘lucky’ to find oneself in a situation where internal drivers get the rewards one wants?
Keep it personal
The really important thing is to always be in touch with the ‘What for?’ question. What is your personal reason for doing something? What does it give you? Knowing that and staying in touch with that reason gives you energy, and equally importantly, tolerance and resilience.
Keep yourself charged
Staying charged up is a matter of personal curiosity, having appropriate level of challenge, feeling you can control what happens to you and knowing that what you are doing is meaningful to you. Find ways to challenge yourself in what you do, and know that no matter what, you always have choices. That helps you stay powerful.
Keep yourself connected
Do remember – nobody is an island. The more we are able to connect and collaborate with the people who matter to us, the more we will feel motivated. Also, strive to get your work visibility and appreciation from those you look up to – a good word from a respected peer is an amazing driver.
Keep yourself committed
There will always be setbacks. Times can be tough. Your commitment to what you are doing matters - after all, no pain, no gain. And finally, the beauty of it is that the extrinsic motivators tend to flow automatically to those who are intrinsically motivated :)
Have you noticed how, sometimes we change when dealing with an outsider, especially non-Indians? It happens to so many of us. We become more self-conscious, and even if we are well-qualified and experienced, transform from being confident professionals into nervous novices, quite unconsciously.
What causes this? Thinking that ‘they’ know better? Or that it is ‘their’ process? Or cultural stereotypes? We could speculate about it, but cannot know for sure. Fact is quite often, relocating to a new environment, or working with a colleague from a different culture, especially a foreigner, makes us behave differently even if it is on phone. We under-sell ourselves and it is not great for our self-image, and given that collaboration is key, not good for the work product as well.
The good news is: If we become aware of it, and get back in touch with our inherent strengths, we can certainly make it a really useful work environment. Here are some tips that might help you deal more confidently with these situations:
Believe in your core strengths
What makes you unique? Why did your company hire and retain you? Is it your technical ability, knowledge, managerial skill, multitasking ability, or anything else? Think about why you were hired for your job and continue to do it to the best of your ability. Your role is not to have excellent English skills or great social skills - it is to do the job you were hired to do. Remember that.
Prepare for your visitors or your visit
Whether you are hosting a visitor or you are travelling, it helps to be prepared. Read up on the local culture including small things from greetings like ‘How are you today?’ to handshakes or physical contact, to etiquette on splitting the bill. Remember the objective of the visit: the work, and at the same time, see if there are some things similar - perhaps cricket, or music, Game of Thrones. There is usually something.
Start with similarities, and any established work process or protocol. Connect at the similarities and you will be two people working together, no matter what each of your roots. If nervous, reach out to more experienced colleagues. Be proactive – ask questions when you need to and seek the help you need.
Understanding them doesn’t need to mean acting like them – continue to be yourself, and be ready to talk about your own needs and choices (like food preferences, for example). Communicating your needs and requesting for help clearly makes things much easier for everyone involved.
Don’t try and second guess your colleagues or expect them to guess your discomfort and help you.
Do remember – nobody is ‘better’ than anybody else. We are as good as our work. Be proud of your own culture, and at the same time, be open to other cultures and people.
Bottom-line: Learn to appreciate the differences, while also starting from the similarities.
by Krithika Akkaraju
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.