3 things that drive our motivation

#44, Mar 8, 2024

Vasi is here 🙂

Song of the dose and Happy International Women’s Day to all strong women here!

Estimated reading time: 2 mins, 24 sec.

What’s the issue about?

This dose is about 3 things that drive our sustainable motivation.

I learned about them from the book I’m currently reading “Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans” by Michaeleen Doucleff, PhD.

(yep, getting a 3-year-old to brush their teeth in the morning and being motivated at work has a lot in common… you can’t imagine how much)

These 3 things are not that amazing at all. Reading them, I had one of those “Aha…” moments where pieces of the puzzle come together.

I closed the book and… here I am.


What motivates us to do something of our own free will?

There are 2 types of motivation.

Extrinsic motivation – created and controlled by external forces (rewards, punishments, and praises).

Intrinsic motivation – created and controlled by ourselves. It’s responsible for challenging ourselves, helping, putting maximum effort into something without resistance. And without expecting things like rewards, punishments, and recognition. Intrinsic motivation ignites our fire and desire for something. And it lasts much longer than extrinsic motivation.

An interesting fact is that external influences can weaken our intrinsic motivation towards something.

So, if you want to be motivated in your work long-term – do not rely ONLY on rewards, incentives, benefits, or the achievement of indicators and metrics.

You need to add 3 ingredients to them.

The 3 things that drive our intrinsic motivation

1. The sense of belonging (Do you feel part of your team?)

Belonging is a fundamental human need. It’s the feeling that you are connected to others on your team, that others accept you and you accept them, that you value each other, and that you are ONE.
Belonging is one of the 9 elements of our TReE Team Model for high-performing dev teams as part of the team’s hidden foundation.

/How to build a sense of belonging within your team (whether you are a leader or not)/

2. The sense of autonomy (Do you feel that you make the decision whether to do certain tasks?)

You must have freedom, information, and authority to make decisions and be allowed to autonomously decide how to achieve results.
Hari from the gang has a comic about “Leaders giving freedom of the 4 T’s” ↓

3. The sense of competence (Do you feel that you are capable of handling the assigned tasks?)

Some time ago, an IT person sent us a case about one of his team members – a newcomer to his team: “After 3-4 months of work, the newcomer was faced with an extremely complex task, for a mid-developer level and above, without clear guidance or support. After four months of working on it, he began to feel a slight rush of fear, there were symptoms of burnout and perhaps despair that things were moving slowly. He himself did not see progress in his work. He felt totally demotivated.”

/the episode that Hari and I discussed this case: *the audio is in Bulgarian/

Feeling frustrated, struggling with something way beyond your capabilities and seeing that you are not making any progress with it can kill your motivation. The demons of procrastination, transfer of responsibility, slacking, etc., will appear.

The other way to kill your motivation is… boredom. If you have tasks that are too easy, you will get bored completing them. And whoop, those demons again.

Intrinsic motivation occurs in the golden mean – do tasks challenging enough to keep you interested, but also easy enough that you still feel competent and capable of doing them.

To feel competent in your work, you need to see that your contribution to the team’s work matters and that it’s helpful to others.

If you want to have motivated teammates around you – recognize and appreciate their efforts (listen to their ideas, value their participation in given tasks, do not redo everything in pursuit of high quality at any cost).

Stay Healthy, my dear Pill-er!
– Vasi

a dose of soft skills directly in your inbox!

Learn more...