Motivation – Pleasure Versus Pain – The “Pleasure Principle”
As I wrote in Chapter V of Mentor Me:
“Similar to how some people learn more through visual, auditory, or kinesthetic stimuli, what you will find in life is there are two types of people when it comes to motivation for their actions. Specifically, how people go about making their decisions and deciding what actions to take (remembering that inaction is also a choice and an action in itself). Some people are motivated by pleasure while others are motivated by pain, or to be more accurate, the avoidance of pain. (In Freudian psychology, this is called the “pleasure principal.”)
This “pleasure principle” deals with people’s basic emotions. If you think about it, this is really the primitive brain and animalistic motivations we would have needed to survive in the wild. These are the raw emotions that drive our daily actions and decisions in life.
Some people choose occupations that are high profile, take lots of risks in life, and keep trying to achieve their goals no matter how much pain is thrown their way—because they are driven by the thought of the pleasure their actions will eventually give them when they succeed. Other people are driven by pain, or the avoidance of pain. They play it safe so as not to get hurt—in their careers, in their personal relationships, and in their daily decisions. The fear of pain can be a powerful motivator for these individuals to help them take action.
In order to best motivate yourself, you need to determine what motivates you. Are you motivated more by gaining pleasure or by pain (i.e., the avoidance of pain)? What is the best way to motivate you?
…Let’s use an example—something with which we are all familiar. The majority of people have some anxiety about, or associate fear with, public speaking (glossophobia—the fear of public speaking).
…Per the National Institute of Mental Health (11/23/2013), 74 percent of people have a fear of public speaking and experience some level of anxiety associated with this activity. It is usually listed as people’s number-one fear. It is often said more people are afraid of public speaking than they are of death!”
I am reminded on a regular basis, with all the turmoil in the Ukraine, and a seeming revival of the Cold War, the power of becoming a great orator or public speaker. The most prolific public speakers in history are usually the ones who became leaders and whose names echo throughout history. Above is a statue of Lenin; I took this photo in Sevastopol, Ukraine.
Most Ukrainian cities have a statue of Lenin somewhere in their cities. Lenin it is said, was a great public speaker. He must have been in order to direct such a sweeping revolution in Russia, as well as influence his generation and future generations toward his vision of society.
With the recent revolution that just took place in Kiev, many cities in the Ukraine did topple their statues of Lenin. It seems toppling statues has become a symbol of getting rid of the past way of life and turning the page on old regimes. In essence, toppling statues of past leaders, such as Lenin, has become a symbol of revolution in many ex Soviet republics – rejecting the past and turning toward the hope of a different and better tomorrow.
We have seen this carried out all over the world when old regimes fell, such as widely publicized videos and photos of statues of Saddam Hussein being toppled in Iraq when Saddam Hussein’s regime fell.
This statue of Lenin in my photo above is still erect in Sevastopol, as Sevastopol was a very pro-Russain city well before the recent changing of hands from the Ukraine to Russia. I know of a statue of Lenin in Kherson, Ukraine, in the city center, which was toppled as a symbol of the rejection of the pro-Russian government ousted in Kiev. I visited Kherson, Ukraine, roughly a year before the recent revolution and political changes in the Ukraine.
My Speech in Kherson, Ukraine
At the time, I was dating someone there in Kherson, and meeting her friends/sister for the first time (the picture on the left is of everyone for which I had to deliver a speech – most of whom I was first introduced that evening).
So I had to give a speech in Kherson – knowing all would scrutinize me, compare notes, form opinions of me based upon my speech, and hang onto/analyze my every word. Additionally, I knew I would be fielding questions after my speech – not knowing exactly what would be asked of me – all before, during, and after dinner.
Of course, what makes giving a speech in a different culture, language, and country more challenging is making sure you have a deeper understanding of the cultural context, as well as keeping your words as simple as possible (requiring more thought), so your words are more easily translated (through a translator), and reflect positively on you.
I can say, I did just that. The day after dinner, I was told that all those present that evening were very impressed with me. It turned out to be a fun and interesting evening.
Famous Speech During My lifetime – Ronald Reagan
During these troubling times in the Ukraine and the renewed tensions between the United States, the world, and Russia, I am reminded of a famous speech (the most moving speech I witnessed in my lifetime, and events that took place as a direct result of this speech that literally changed the world) given by Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s famous, “Mr. Gorbachev…Tear Down This Wall” Speech, with regard to the Berlin Wall. Here is a portion of this speech along with the end result of Reagan’s moving speech years later – the fall of the Berlin Wall (and some would say the precursor to the fall of the Soviet Union)!
So I am constantly reminded of the power of public speaking, its meaning in leadership, and literally having the ability to change the world!
Yes, so many people experience the fear of public speaking. As mentioned earlier in this blog – it is often quoted more people are afraid of public speaking than even death…so I had to look for the original study this was based upon. I found a great reference to this original study online and I quote/reference it in Mentor Me as below:
“The most famous survey, which identified the fear of public speaking as people’s #1 fear was the 1973 Bruskin survey published in David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, and Amy Wallace’s book, The Book of Lists. 3,000 Americans were asked to list their greatest fears. The largest group—41 percent—reported their greatest fear was speaking in front of a group.”
Here is a link referencing this specific study: Fear of Public Speaking Study.
No matter what your fear – public speaking or something else – it is necessary to motivate yourself past your fear In Order to Achieve Your Goal(s)
Maybe your greatest fear is public speaking, as we have discussed. If your Greatest Achievement (GA) or one of your goals in life is leadership – you will need to motivate yourself past this fear – as we have seen the power of great speakers to literally change the world (Lenin and Reagan). Public speaking is one of those necessary functions of great leaders – perfecting that skill can having enduring repercussions.
If your Greatest Achievement (GA) or goals in life are something else – you will inevitably have activities to fulfill on a daily basis in order to achieve these goals. Whether you are fearful of these activities or not – you will need to motivate yourself to achieve them, and therefore move yourself closer to your goal.
Motivation Through Understanding Pleasure Versus Pain
So, for this reason – to formulate how to best motivate yourself, you will need to understand if you are more motivated by gaining pleasure or the fear of pain.
As I wrote in Mentor Me, Chapter V:
“If you are more motivated by gaining pleasure, often you can deal with pain due to the knowledge that you will attain pleasure in the future (“delayed gratification”). So in order to best motivate yourself, you will need to focus, think about, visualize, and write down all the pleasure you can imagine receiving from attaining your goal(s) and your Greatest Achievement (GA). Remind yourself of this pleasure on a regular basis, in order to keep yourself focused to take action on the daily/weekly activities necessary to get you there.
If you are motivated more by pain (or, avoidance of pain), then you will need to frame your thoughts, feelings, and emotions on visualizing all the pain it will cause you if you do not take action. Write down how it will affect you emotionally—all the pain it will cause you if you do not achieve your goal(s) or attain your Greatest Achievement (GA).
Now you also know how best to motivate not only yourself, but also how to motivate others to take action. To motivate others, walk them through this same exercise and use the same example, the fear of public speaking. Once you understand how someone is motivated, by pleasure or by pain (or, avoidance of pain), you will understand how to best formulate a strategy and the words to help them take action.”
If you are motivated by pleasure – then it is a matter of keeping yourself focused on the “delayed gratification” – the thoughts, emotions, and vision of what the end result of your achievement will be like for you. To put it into words/feelings – this same process as outlined in Mentor Me – the experience of achieving your specific goal.
If you are motivated more by the fear of pain, specifically, the pain not achieving your goal will cause you, then it is a matter of formulating in words, and experiencing the painful emotions of not achieving your goal. Using these thoughts and emotions as your motivation – as I walk you through in Mentor Me.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, “Mentor Me: GA=T+E—Initial Reviews” – courage is not the lack of fear – it is being afraid and doing it anyway.
Either way, the result of you taking action – either having great courage (motivating yourself past your fear), or motivating yourself using pleasure (“delayed gratification”) – comes with great rewards. …you may just change the world!
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