“We do what we do, because of who we are. If we did otherwise, we would not be ourselves”.
The inspiration for this article came yesterday, when a young man wearing a navy blue suit, drove a good car, probably works in a bank suddenly burst out of his car, threw away his jacket and took to a fight that was never his. A 40 year old man was beating up a lady of about the same age; People within the environment didn’t do much to stop them. This young man on suit, haven watched the incident for a little while just couldn’t take it anymore.
He came down and engaged the man in a serious brawl. While I watched the incident from a distance I asked myself, what could have being his motivation that he threw away caution, his good appearance and engaged in a fight he wasn’t sure how it all started?
For sure, he wanted to defend the woman. But why would he want to defend that woman? Is he motivated by the desire for heroism or compassion? I don’t know. But the answer to this question is the reason why he did what he did and why he will do it again and why he acts the way he does.
Whether it’s Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Bill Gates or Osama Bin Laden, everyone has what motivates them. The factors that motivate us are what defines what we do; our decision to take a risk and chase our dreams, start a business and stick with it even in the face of losses. They are what made Nelson Mandela and Dr. King decide to risk their lives to purchase freedom for their people. The same reasons motivated Bill Gates to give out a large part of his wealth for charity. All actions of a man, whether good or bad define the factors that motivate us.
According to psychologist like Abraham Maslow, there are five hierarchy of human needs which motivate him to behave in a certain way. They are, self Actualization, Esteem, Social, Safety and Physiological needs. Some other psychologists have broken these needs into six. They are the need for certainty, uncertainty/variety, significance, connection/love, growth and contribution. All the efforts of man in business, politics, charity, sports and crime are all targeted towards meeting these needs. This drive to fulfill these needs is rooted in the nervous system. Throwing little light on these needs would help us understand what motivates us and why we choose one option instead of another.
This need for certainty is what drives us to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Many people push themselves very hard to satisfy this need. Some persons who had bad experiences often resort to alcohol or drugs to have fun and escape their bad memories or feelings.
The feeling of variety or uncertainty is a desire to see something new. This desire is responsible for risk taking and our tendency to often engage in adventures, especially when our reason is solely to see and discover something new. According to Tony Robbins, America’s number one public speaker and self help expert, “the fulfillment of this need is what makes us feel alive and engaged”.
The feeling of significance is the desire to be needed and appreciated. This desire is in everyone and this desire makes us seek attention and approval from people around us. When this desire is tapped into by those who understand it, we do extra-ordinary things to reciprocate the gesture. Also it is this desire that motivates us to dream to change the world by our works of charity or by violence. We simply want to be recognized.
This is the desire for more love and care from those around us.
Growth is the physical manifestation of progress. Growth is what keeps many individuals happy. Teachers keep awake to study, athletes train so hard, musicians practice overnight to master musical tones, the entrepreneur works hard to start a business even in the absence of start up capital, the criminal masters his acts, etc., because they all desire to grow and that means progress for them.
The need to contribute is the desire to leave a mark in the world. This need is responsible for some of the humanitarian gestures we see every day. Sometimes, some people’s desire to help others or their community or to create jobs is motivated by the desire to satisfy this need.
We all are motivated by one or a combination of these needs. If we are able to understand these needs, they would go a long way in helping us to understand ourselves and even inspire us to become better.