From the moment we are born we develop both our motives and values. Motives are deep-seated non-conscious desires and are the things that we enjoy doing. Values develop through social conditioning – home, school, religion, work, friends etc. Values are what we feel are important; the things we should do.
David McClelland’s theory on human motivation states that in normal, healthy human beings there are 3 social motives and values that describe the widest range of behaviors; achievement, affiliation and power. Achievement is a concern for achieving a standard of excellence that the individual sets for him/herself. Often people with a dominant achievement motive strive for mastery and expertise in their chosen field. Affiliation is concerned with having positive relationships for the sake of the relationship (and not in service of something else). Individuals with a dominant affiliation motive invest in a few, deep relationships and often have strong reactions towards others – they are clear whom they like and dislike. They prefer environments that are convivial and foster friendship. The power motive is a concern to have influence and impact on others. People with a dominant power motive like to have an audience and visibility. They are often good networkers.
There is no ‘right’ motive profile that determines success; we are all different. The key to our success lies in understanding what drives our behavior in various situations; this is a combination of our motives and our values (what we believe is important at the time) and the conditions that we find ourselves in. Defining personal success is a journey of self-discovery; you need to figure out what is your true purpose, what you are passionate about, what you enjoy and find ways at work to satisfy that need. You must to listen to your inner voice rather than be influenced by others so that you can lead a fulfilling life and not feel regret when you retire because you did not follow your heart.
- Take some time to determine what your motives are. There are several ways to do this:
- You can work with work with a coach who is accredited to help you uncover your motives and values. Usually, he/she will recommend that you take a survey to more accurately diagnose your dominant drivers since we are often not conscious of what these are.
- Assess your behavior patterns over time; whilst the specific circumstances may vary you look for opportunities to satisfy your motives. For example, do you always put your hand up when there is a challenging or complex problem to solve or project to run? Do you like to learn new things or deepen your knowledge in a certain area? Do you love taking the floor and entertaining people? These patterns will be related to your underlying motives.
- Consider what you do in your spare time when you are free to choose. For example, do you like to spend time with close friends or family? Are you learning a new skill? Do you chair a group? Again, this will indicate your dominant motive.
- Get feedback from the people who know you well about what they see in your behavior.
- Do some reflection on your life story so far. What was it like growing up? How have events shaped you? What lessons have you learned? What does that mean for how you want to live your life?
Determine what your purpose is. This should come out of your motives and values and be a guiding light in terms of what you want to achieve and how you define success.
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