Despite having a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and Human Resource Development, and spending time studying Maslow, Herzberg, Alderfer, and Machiavelli, I must admit that I am not an expert in the theories of motivation.
Yet, every day I am struck by the apparent motivations that I witness in those around me, and just how different they are from one another and how they create such differences in behavior from one person to another.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
Recently an article was being passed around on Facebook about the differences between the habits of the poor and the rich. As I read through the list I couldn’t help but read between the lines to the motivations underlying the habits. One habit says, “6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.” As I read this I thought about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, his psychological theory concerning motivation. In the hierarchy there are five levels, with the top level being what he terms as Self-actualization, which refers to the full potential of a person and the actualization or realization of that potential. Though my mind pondered on the theory, my heart grew quiet, wondering if it meant that those 78% would never see beyond the meeting of their basic needs to a place of realizing their potential, of truly living life to the full. Would they never know being “fully alive” as Saint Irenaeus says is “the glory of God”?
Then, today while having coffee with a friend she remarked about how many people join the Department of Human Services, which she was a part of for 30 years, because they truly care about people and desire to make a difference in peoples’ lives and help to better the world as a whole. This led me to think about something I heard author and speaker, Stasi Eldredge, say a couple of months ago. She said, “Love is the only motivation that will endure.”
I’ve thought about that quote on a number of occasions because I want to believe she’s right and I want to be seen as someone who loves and not as a means to something else, but simply as the end. I Love. I Love because He first Loved me. I Love. I am motivated by Love, by His Love.
Yet, when I think about this, it makes me go back to Maslow and his theory. Because in his theory, love is the middle level, above our needs for air, water, food, safety, and security, but below our needs for respect (from others and from self) and self-actualization. And, of course, this makes me wonder if Maslow had it wrong or if I just don’t understand his theory.
But, when I think about what motivates me day-in and day-out, what causes me to get up in the morning; some days it’s because I like to eat, several days it’s because I like living in a warm house, many days it’s because I like feeling good about myself and achieving my potential, but every day it’s because I Love.