Be aware of the values you’re being influenced into…
Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation for Business
Observe the business experts you follow: notice the core message of their emails, social media, and websites… Are they trying to tempt you with big incomes and large followings? "Make 7 figures!” "Get one hundred thousand followers!” By selling wealth and fame, they are leading some people towards anxiety and depression. A business built on extrinsic (or external) motivations will eventually foster unhappiness. On the other hand, an authentic business – based on intrinsic motivations – tends to create true success...Posted by George Kao, Authentic Business Coach on Friday, May 5, 2023
Observe the business experts you follow: notice the core message of their emails, social media, and websites…
Are they trying to tempt you with big incomes and large followings? "Make 7 figures!” "Get one hundred thousand followers!”
By selling wealth and fame, they are leading some people towards anxiety and depression.
A business built on extrinsic (or external) motivations will eventually foster unhappiness.
On the other hand, an authentic business – based on intrinsic motivations – tends to create true success.
“To action alone has thou a right and never at all to its fruits;
Let not the fruits of action be thy motive;
Neither let there be in thou any attachment to inaction....
Therefore, without being attached to the fruits of activities,
one should act as a matter of duty,
for by working without attachment, one attains the Supreme.”
—The Bhagavad Gita
This ancient wisdom about intrinsic motivation is being confirmed by the field of positive psychology:
“Studies have consistently shown that intrinsic motivation leads to increased persistence, greater psychological well-being, and enhanced performance.” –positivepsychology.com
When we do work that is motivated by extrinsic factors (e.g. money or prestige), it increases likelihood of anxiety and depression.
But when we instead work from intrinsic or self-transcendent motivations (such as personal growth, creativity, creating community), we tend to experience positive flow states.
In other words, deep happiness tends to arise from dedication to the process of one's life, rather than attachment to specific results. This perspective can be applied to any task in your business: keep viewing your work as a series of ongoing practices, rather than result-oriented activity.
You are integrating more of your spirituality into every moment, while experimenting with expressing your soul.
If you aren’t already in a community of kindred spirits who continually remind you of this, keep looking for one. Or curate your own. Invite a few friends or colleagues. Having a supportive group around the idea of intrinsic motivation is so helpful, when much of society us wants us to perform.
Back to those marketing experts who are motivating us with extrinsic factors...
Perhaps they justify to themselves: “People need to make money, before they can even think about making an impact… so let’s market to their desire for money.”
I respectfully disagree.
We don't need to market to people's desire for money, fame, or other baser instincts…
There are deeper human needs than money. We have the core need to feel that our life is purposeful, that we are being useful to others, and that we are engaged in creative self expression.
We know instinctively that opportunities to be of genuine service, and to do things that fuel our creativity, create deep happiness.
You can make enough money, a sustainable income, as a by-product of focusing on creativity and service, rather than “make lots of money” as the primary objective.
When marketing experts try to motivate our baser instincts, it pollutes humanity’s collective consciousness.
It’s like the companies that market junk food, pornography, or violent video games.
“Don’t blame us… We’re just giving the people what they want!”
And yet, people increasingly want deeper things.
The same person who wants junk food also has a higher impulse for healthy food.
A person may crave pornography, but at the same time, yearns for true intimacy.
And all of us may want to “make more money”, but at the same time, our higher impulse calls us to:
“Serve meaningfully, and the money will come.”
Money can be earned as a natural reciprocity of your meaningful generosity to others.
We authentic business owners have a purpose, opportunity, and responsibility to not only “give people what they want” — but to market and message to people’s highest impulses. That way, our marketing itself can uplift, rather than bring our audiences down to their baser instincts in the name of making a quick profit.
And, as consumers of courses and coaching, let‘s be mindful in our choices, and stop supporting those who are selling greed and fame.
Unsubscribe from their newsletters. Unfollow their social media. Ignore those marketers that are motivating your actions based on your lower self.
By practicing genuine service, we will find the support we need for life, including money, and the loving and loyal attention of our fans.
There’s nothing wrong with making money, except when it becomes the primary focus.
There’s nothing wrong with getting more attention, unless that dominates your thinking.
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself, or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run — in the long-run, I say! — success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.”
— Viktor Frankl, from the book “Man’s Search for Meaning”
How wonderful, that the purpose of life — and the way of authentic business success — are the same:
Learn to serve others meaningfully, and money/success/happiness will be created as a natural result.
This post was originally written in October 2018. Updated in 2023.