I’m on a roll today and writing for my column just wasn’t sufficient. If you’re curious what has me so verbose, check it out in the link above.
I can’t get over how much time and effort I have wasted throughout my life, being confused about motivation and obligation. Granted, I’m not the only one but I think we do not only ourselves but our children a disservice when we teach them to attain through obligation instead of through motivation. My grandfather used to say he could motivate a recalcitrant child by placing his boot on the seat of their pants. In truth, this isn’t motivation, it is obligation. The child is obligated to perform in a certain way or receive a kick in the caboose. Would the performance be more meaningful if instead of the implied threat, the performance brought a desired reward with it? For example, instead of my grandfather’s boot, he could have told the child, if you do this, you will gain this?
Now, some may call this bribery, and if used negatively, that is what it is. However, if used in a positive manner, it is a reward. Be honest with yourself, wouldn’t you rather do something because you can see and you want the reward that you’ll receive by doing the task? It sure beats doing the task because you don’t really have any other viable choice. And yet, we continue to teach our children obligation instead of motivation. What’s wrong with this picture?