Success Failure and Motivation


Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

In Part One, the difference between fear of failure, where the driving force progressively diminishes and therefore requires constant effort to maintain, and desire for success, where the driving force increases as you approach your goal and therefore requires no external force to maintain, was discussed.

You were encouraged to ask yourself:

What drives you?  Which of your actions are motivated by fear of failure and which by desire for success?  How can you tell the difference?  How do you typically motivate yourself, your colleagues, employees, children etc?


When you do something because you enjoy doing it, your motivation is intrinsic.  When you do something because you are rewarded for doing it – or when you don’t do something because you’ll be punished if you do it – your motivation is extrinsic.

Motivation and Performance Management

When these two motivational forces act in the same direction – eg: you love your work and you are well paid for it – all your energy is applied to the task at hand.  There is no conflict, hence no wasted energy, no harmful stress.

When the two forces are in conflict – eg: you do not like your work but you are well paid for it –an “approach-avoidance” conflict arises.  You are motivated to reap the reward (money) but you are also motivated to avoid the work that you find unpleasant.  Energy is required to overcome your urge to stay away from work hence less energy is available for work, and if you can find a way of reaping the reward (money) without paying the price (unpleasant work) – you will!

In any situation, various motivational forces are operating.  It is important, therefore, to understand the specific forces in play and their interaction, in order to know which changes are most likely to create lasting results.

When both intrinsic and extrinsic factors are considered in relationship to each other and to the situation as a whole, the results are likely to be beneficial and lasting.

THINK about this:

> Which aspects of your life – and business – are motivated intrinsically and which extrinsically?

> What are the major motivational forces – and conflicts – operating in your life?

> Does our system of reward and punishment work?  Look at the evidence.  Is performance improving and stress decreasing?  Are we healthier?  Is the crime rate decreasing?

Where to from here?

Understanding what motivates us enables us to use our resources more effectively.  It enables us to eliminate waste and direct our efforts on target.  Intellectual understanding, however, is not enough.

Experiential understanding – understanding that comes from our own direct experiencing – is what enables us to convert information into knowledge that leads to effective action.

REFLECT upon this:

> How do I form my opinions, beliefs and judgements?

> On what evidence do I base my decisions?

What is Core Development Coaching?

How does it differ from Psychotherapy?

Let us take an example of a case that requires the skills of both coaching and psychotherapy eg: a high achiever whose motive to succeed is driven by feelings of inadequacy.

Defining “Success”

Even though this person may be getting very good results, he will be expending a lot of energy and paying a high price for his material success.  It is the task of a good coach to assist this person in differentiating between his feelings of inadequacy and his desire to succeed, and to deal with each of these appropriately. He will help his client determine what results he truly wishes to create, and help him find the most effective ways of doing this.

Creating What Really Matters To You

If a person’s achievements are driven by her feelings or fear of inadequacy, this person will feel compelled to keep achieving in order to cover up her fears.  She will never be truly satisfied, never able to fully relax and enjoy her life.  If a coach were to support her in achieving her goals without understanding the underlying motivational dynamics, therefore, she would simply be reinforcing her compulsive behaviour.

This is why it is important, in my opinion, for a coach to have an understanding of these dynamics. I believe that it is also very helpful for a coach to have experienced therapy herself.

Supporting You All The Way To Completion

Whilst a psychotherapist would guide you into an in-depth exploration of your psyche, a Core Development Coach will help you understand the dynamics underlying your behaviour, work out what results will be of most benefit to you, and work with you step-by-step to devise the most effective and satisfying ways of achieving those results.

So in Core Development Coaching, we first find out what results best serve the interests of the person, group or organisation that we are working with, then we find the most effective ways of creating those results.

We sometimes find ourselves going back and forward between these two, constantly checking that the results we are creating are in fact the ones that will most benefit the individual, group or organisation that we are coaching.

Core Development Coaching is of value to anyone who wishes to create more of what truly matters to them in their lives.

To find out how Core Development  can help you and/or your organisation, call Core Development on 02 9413 9794

Best wishes to you,

Donald Marmara