Motivation is Never a “One Size Fits All” Process

Whenever I speak on the topic of motivation or coach managers on how to motivate subordinates, I emphasize what I consider the most important, yet overlooked fact: That motivation is never a “one size fits all” process. Whether you are simply trying to nail down what motivates you or how to motivate someone else in order to be maximally effective, it’s crucial to understand and acknowledge the stage from which you (or whomever you wish to motivate) are starting.

In most cases, Stages Six and Seven appear quite appealing. However, remember that it’s still also okay to strive for those “lower-stage” or external motivators such as money and awards. Then Stages Six and Seven (even if they are not your prime motivators) can offer the bonuses of personal satisfaction, enjoying what you do, and making a contribution to something larger than yourself.

That said, here’s what motivates you by the stages:

  • Stage Seven―The opportunity to serve one person or many others your larger community and/or the environment in a cause or mission you believe in … To solve a problem that has an impact on people or things that are larger than you and your inner circle … The satisfaction of touching one life (as a parent, for example) or bettering many lives.
  • Stage Six―The feeling of satisfaction that comes when doing what you love and were meant to do as dictated by your unique talents at the deepest level … Meeting a challenge … Performing optimally with passion and ease as opposed to effort and difficulty … Anything that triggers feelings of bliss … The opportunity to be genuinely creative … Feeling the best about yourself … “If you aren’t having fun doing it, either you’re not doing it right or it’s not the right thing for you to be doing.”
  • Stage Five―Money, benefits, privileges, respect from others for specific aspects of your life (or a specific role you play such as a manager) and how you handle your roles and responsibilities … The need to have all chores and obligations under control.
  • Stage Four―Awards, celebrity, prestige, validation, praise, love, recognition, and approval of you (most often in a global way as opposed to merely a specific area of life such as with Stage Five) … The opportunity to impress friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and relatives (or the public, in the case of celebrities).
  • Stage Three―Not making waves, by doing whatever is expected of you and staying on the good side of whomever or whatever you consider an authority to be obeyed … Your power to rule others.
  • Stage Two―Opportunities to lure people in and/or reap rewards without paying the necessary dues or playing on a level field … Being irresponsible without consequences.
  • Stage One―Whatever feels easiest, safest, least threatening and most comfortable.


By keeping the seven stages in mind and remembering that they all are choices available to us in any aspect of life, motivating yourself or someone else can be a much more straightforward undertaking.