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How To Define Motivation and Inspiration:
The Power of the Difference

Sometimes frustrated leaders ask, "How do you define motivation and inspiration? Is there a difference that matters?  Will knowing the difference help me and my team? I want, I NEED, more results, energy and commitment from my team, now!  Help!"

There IS a difference between motivation and inspiration, and it CAN make a difference in your team's performance.   Let me explain...

The Difference...

First, let's define motivation:

To provide with an incentive; to move to action; impel.  That sounds pretty good, right?  You want your team to take action! 

So, motivation IS good. But consider the possibility of inspiration.  Here's the definition for inspiration: 

To stimulate to action. To affect or guide. To stimulate energies, ideals or reverence. How does THAT definition strike you? Can you see the subtle, but big difference between how we define motivation and inspiration?

While motivation IS better than being apathetic, it requires a lot of pushing and prodding from you the leader.

Inspiration on the other hand involves more of a person's inner drive.  When you're focused on inspiration you're activating an employee's desire to act, which is less labor intensive and longer-lasting.

Motivation is the pedal car.

A pedal does go.  You DO get movement, but it requires more work from you, the leader. 

You've got to push, pedal and be there for it to work. The pedal car, like motivation, can be labor intensive.

Inspiration is the race car.

The race car require less work on you, the leader's part because the engine is strong and self-powered.

The race car, like inspiration, is much more powerful and can cover greater distance, faster.

The Race Car (Inspiration) is the Goal...

The idea of having a self-motivated, powerful team is probably the main reason you're interested in defining motivation in the first place. I believe that when people truly want to do something, as a result of their interactions with you, you have now stepped into the realm of inspiration.

In inspiration you're guiding NOT forcing and prodding, and this is when you are leading! 

As we define motivation and inspiration I include this slight play on words with a focus on inspiration, but the difference between motivation and inspiration makes a big performance difference.

You want race car power and strength on your team, but how do you get more of that? How do you inspire your team? Here are a few resources that will help:

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