What is motivation? We all need it in some form to tackle the humdrum of daily life, or to tackle problems and challenges thrown our way. I could say that I need motivation to accept the task of proofreading a 1400-page book on economics or accounting, as I have done in the past. The Oxford English Dictionary describes motivation as “a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way … a desire or willingness to do something, enthusiasm”. The following are just a few of the many quotations from famous people from all walks of life that help to define motivation. As can be imagined motivation means different things to various people.
“I don’t think I ever expected anything like an Oscar ever, to tell you the truth. That is not my motivation when I do these roles. I really am motivated by being able to work with great people and create a body of work that I can look back and be proud of.” (Leonardo DiCaprio, US actor, b.1974)
“When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, ‘It’s in the script.’ If he says, ‘But what’s my motivation?’ I say, ‘Your salary.’” (Alfred Hitchcock, British film director, 1899–1980)
“I do have high standards. I look at everything I have done and think, ‘Why wasn’t that better?’ Part of my motivation is from crippling self-doubt – I have got to prove myself wrong.” (Michael Palin, British actor and comedian, b.1943)
“When you’re CEO, you have to have two conditions: first, shareholders need to trust you and want you to head your company. The second is that you need to feel the motivation to do the job. So, as long as both are reunited, you continue to do the job. And today, they are reunited.” (Carlos Ghosn, Brazilian businessman and Chairman of French-based Renault car manufacturer, b.1954)
“When I look at China’s environmental problems, the real barrier is not lack of technology or money. It’s lack of motivation.” (Ma Jun, Chinese environmentalist, b.1968)
“My principal motivation is supporting my family, which is not a bad reason for getting up in the morning. That’s always been my motivation – to take care of the people who rely on me.” (Tony Parsons, British journalist and critic, b.1953)
“That’s the motivation of an artist – to seek attention of some kind.” (James Taylor, US singer and songwriter, b.1948)
“Classic economic theory, based as it is on an inadequate theory of human motivation, could be revolutionized by accepting the reality of higher human needs, including the impulse to self-actualization and the love for the highest values.” (Abraham Maslow, US behavioural psychologist, 1908–70)
“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower, former US president, 1890–1969)
“If you think black people have a motivation problem, open up a Wal-Mart and advertise a thousand jobs. Watch 5,000 people show up.” (Reverend Jesse Jackson, political activist, b.1941)
“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” (Mario Andretti, US racing driver, b.1940)
“When I lose the sense of motivation and the sense to prove something as a basketball player, it’s time for me to move away from the game.” (Michael Jordan, US basketball player, b. 1963)
“My motivation and aspiration is the same, being number one or being number five. So that’s the truth. And my goal is the same – it’s to always be happy playing, it’s to enjoy the game and improve always.” (Rafael Nidal, Spanish tennis player, b.1986)
What is your motivation?