“Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and carry it through to its conclusion, and inspiration is when an idea gets hold of you and carries you where you are intended to go.” – Dr Wayne Dyer
Whether you’re an executive, a school teacher, or a parent raising a family, you’re a leader. You’re trying to get the best out of those in your charge and help them grow. Inspiration and motivation are both effective tools. The question is which one will generate the best results.
We often use these words interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different from each other. Google defines them as follows:
- Motivation is “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way” or “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.” It can also be defined as motive, incentive, ambition, and determination.
- Inspiration is “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” Similar words include creativity, inventiveness, innovation, imagination, and originality.
Once you understand the differences, the challenge lies in putting them into action to achieve your goals.
The Leadership Connection
The website Your Brilliance Unlimited offers five important differences between inspiration and motivation that every leader should understand.
- Motivation is about feelings. Inspiration looks “for the next thing that makes sense to the bigger picture,” regardless of feelings.
- Motivation wants quick wins, short-term gains. Inspiration means staying the course by keeping the overall achievement in sight.
- “Motivation will always first ask how or what. Inspiration will always come back to questions that first ask who or why.”
- Motivation tends to push people to do what you want, while inspiration shows you how to pull them toward your vision of the goal or achievement that will reward both individuals and teams.
- “Personal leadership recognizes the difference between rigid control and fluid growth in our lives. Motivation is about control: controlling your feelings, actions, steps. When control is lost, we can lose our motivation or will power. Worse yet, we can even pass judgment on ourselves for what we didn’t accomplish. Inspiration is about knowing when to guard what’s important and when to lean in to life for the bigger picture of what you value and want to create.”
Parts Of A Whole
Good leaders know that success requires much more than just inspiration and motivation. Leaders know how to bond with their teams to understand what drives them. They employ empathetic listening, personal connections, and basic people-centered methods, all of which encompass the balanced approach of a heart-centered leadership style.
Inspiration and motivation are just two important parts of this very effective whole—and leaders must know which of them works best in any given situation.
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Colleen Slaughter, Your Big, BOLDER Life Mentor, is a speaker, coach, author and founder of Authentic Leadership International. She is passionate about providing ambitious women leaders with the courage, confidence and clarity they need to stop selling themselves short, to claim what they really want in business and in life and to go for it!
Clients say Colleen has helped them find their voice, listen to it, and act on it, and that, by doing so, they have gained a sense of freedom, joy and fulfillment beyond measure.
Colleen’s perspectives have been featured in ABC, NBC, CBS, Enterprising Women and the Woman’s Advantage® Shared Wisdom Calendar for 2012, 2015 and 2016.
If she could be granted a superpower, it would be to vanish people’s feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness and to replace them with the deep understanding of how much they, and what they envision for themselves are important.