Motivation vs. Inspiration

This entry is part 6 of 28 in the series Leadership

Lots of people talk about being motivated, or motivating others or getting motivated.  Some people use motivation and inspiration synonymously. I try to avoid using the word motivation unless I’m talking about myself. When talking about players, I want to inspire them.  Have you poured into anyone today?

Motivation comes from the Latin word ‘movere’ which means to move. Motivation is the reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a certain way. There are internal and external motivating factors. We are best when we are motivated by internal factors. If I think of someone “moving,” it works so much better when someone moves themselves as opposed to me moving them.  If I “move” someone, I might end up moving more than just them.  I might be trying to move all the baggage that they bring along with them.  In addition, they might think that I will always be there to move them. Other people may expect me to move them as well.  I think everyone has things that motivate them. Although these motivators may be different for everyone, everyone has a motor that can be started. Some people may not realize what motivates them, but I think that’s where the inspiration comes in.

Inspiration comes from the Latin word ‘inspirare’ which means to blow into.  Inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to act.  I believe when we inspire someone, it’s like giving them CPR. We aren’t God.  We can’t give them life, but we can help bring them back to life.  We can help others see what motivates them and help them along.  We can inspire them to act. We can put some gas in their tanks. We can give them hope. We can show them a path to success. We can blow the dust off of their motivations so that they can see them.

Maybe the two things are the same.  I just don’t want to be the reason someone is motivated.  I might not always be around. However, if I can inspire them, then their success isn’t always dependent on my presence or my actions. What if I mess up? I’m human.  If their motivation is dependent on me, I’m bound to let them down.  If I can breathe life into them and inspire them, then maybe they can discover motivations that are more significant and meaningful to them. Maybe they can share their inspiration with others.

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