Why Is Positive Motivation Better Than Negative?

Just a quickie here, on the difference between positive and negative motivation.  When you are self employed, you have to motivate your self.  This is a major difference to working for someone else.  I have found that working for someone else depends to a certain extent upon negative motivation.  Self motivation needs to be positive.

Put simply, positive motivation rewards you for achieving your goals and objectives whereas negative motivation punishes you for failing to complete your tasks.

Now that’s not to say that with the negative motivation model you can’t make a success of your career.  Far from it, one of the key skills to learn as an employee is that taking control of your task list and defining it yourself, setting targets and goals is incredibly important.  The best companies out there will encourage their employees to do this – it’s called empowerment.  I was unfortunate in this respect, not that my employer didn’t empower me, but that I didn’t grab this empowerment myself and make it work for me.


No, I used to rely too much on the negative motivation model.  I based my approach to employment solely upon doing just enough to avoid censure.  I didn’t, at any stage, take hold of my job and make even the slightest attempt to define it myself.  On becoming self employed it took me an age to realise that there was no longer this external person (bogeyman, if you will) to define my task list, I just did the bare minimum – and being self employed, the bare minimum isn’t enough.

Once you can grasp this fact, then positive motivation becomes an incredible tool.  For a kick off, you can use it on yourself.  When you have achieved a goal, reward yourself.  If you haven’t yet achieved a particular goal, then you have to work that little bit harder until you have done.  You are working for something good, rather than trying to avoid censure.

This article, written by me, has previously been published on my former on-line incarnation, www.thesimonlewis.co.uk.

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