Research Paper By Ashley Gork
(Career Coach, UNITED STATES)
There are many differences between Steve Jobs and Steve Smith. For example, you’ve most likely heard of Steve Jobs, known for being the cofounder and former CEO of Apple Inc. And you might be asking yourself, who is this Steve Smith? While both men studied technology innovation and both dropped out of college after six months, one huge difference marks the difference between them: Ambition.
Psychologist Dean Simonton, who studies genius, creativity and eccentricity at the University of California, Davis, has defined ambition as a combination of energy, determination and goals. “People with goals but no energy are the ones who wind up sitting on the couch saying ‘One day I’m going to build a better mousetrap.’ People with energy but no goals just dissipate themselves in one desultory project after the next,” he said to TIME Magazine. This means that while the concept of ambition can be viewed as an evolutionary product, changing with the definitions of social status, it can also be seen as a fixed combination of two innate qualities: determination and energy.
Humans, like other species, have varying levels of ambition. Studies on brain functionality have shown that people with more activity in their limbic systems tend to score higher in scales measuring persistence. Likewise, research has suggested that energy levels might be correlated with genetics, indicating that a significant aspect of ambition is hereditary. However, determination and energy can be also developed via coaching. Those who utilize the skills of a coach to deepen their motivations can harness a stronger attachment to their ambitions and become more likely to achieve their goals. “A lot of times it’s just finding the right thing to be ambitious about,” Simonton affirmed.
The purpose of this paper is to explore The Hierarchy of Autonomous 1 Motivations2 and to learn how each level represents a different probability and satisfaction rate derived from achieving one’s goals. It exists in parallel with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but focuses specifically on what motivates humans to reach new levels of self-defined achievement within their professional and personal lives. The theory works within a broad paradigm shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivators and moves within the following four levels of increasing complexity and significance: material, membership, mastery and meaning. As goal-setters move through these levels, adopting deeper attachments to their motivations, they are more likely to remain committed to their goals and to experience satisfaction from achieving them.
“Autonomous” is defined as self-determining and represents goals that are conceptualized and developed by the person wishing to achieve them. Goals that come from achievements one ought to have or should have will not be explored within the context of this paper. 2 “Motivation” is defined as a psychological desire or willingness to reach one’s goals. Biological motivations, such as the need to eat, sleep or perpetuate the human species, will be ignored for the purpose of this paper.
At the most basic psychological level, humans can be motivated by material gains. Money used to upgrade laptops, purchase vacation homes or buy expensive steak dinners fit into this low-level category. These funds and other material gains can be viewed as extrinsic motivators, bringing about validation from outside sources. In other words, they encourage goal-setters to reach outside of themselves to find satisfaction.
Human motivation psychologist Edward Deci researched the effectiveness of using money as a motivator by incentivizing students to solve puzzles. Deci found that those who were offered money to find the correct solution were less interested in working on the task than students who were not materially motivated. Moreover, those who were not incentivized by money worked longer and with more interest on the task. Deci’s work showed the weaknesses associated with extrinsic motivation, finding that those who were intrinsically motivated had higher levels of persistence and interest in the project. “We need to compensate people fairly, but when we try to use money to motivate them to do tasks, it can very likely backfire on us,” he said.
Similarly, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of Evolve, studied the use of money as an incentive for high-innovation companies. Her research found that money did not encourage people to get excited about their daily tasks nor did it help them to feel fulfilled. “Money can even be an irritant if compensation is not adequate or fair, and compensation runs out of steam quickly as a source of sustained performance,” she wrote for Harvard Business Review. Kanter added that people who are happy at work are often those who find that they can make positive impacts on social needs. This does not directly involve material gains, she noted.