“Make 6 or 7 figures! Get 1 Million Followers!” Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation
Notice the business and marketing experts that you follow, and the core sales message of their emails, social media, and website.
Are they trying to tempt you with “6 or 7 figure incomes” or “1 million followers”?
By selling wealth and fame, they are unfortunately leading people on a path towards anxiety and depression.
A business built on extrinsic motivations tends toward deep unhappiness.
An authentic business, created from intrinsic motivations, creates true success.
”To action alone has thou a right and never at all to its fruits;
Let not the fruits of action be thy motive;
Neither let there be in thou any attachment to inaction….
Therefore, without being attached to the fruits of activities,
one should act as a matter of duty,
for by working without attachment, one attains the Supreme.”
— The Bhagavad Gita
This ancient wisdom is echoed by modern psychologists, who understand that deep happiness arises from dedication to the process of one’s life, not attachment to specific results.
Consider the work of Professor Tim Kasser who has done research showing that when people do work primarily motivated by extrinsic factors (e.g. money or prestige), it increases likelihood of anxiety and depression. But when we instead do work from intrinsic or self-transcendent motivations (personal growth, creativity, creating community), we grow towards experiencing positive flow states.
Back to those marketing experts who are motivating us with extrinsic factors…
They might justify to themselves: “People need to make money, before they can even think about making an impact… so let’s market to their desire for money.”
I disagree. We don’t need to market to people’s desire for money, or fame, or any other baser instinct.
There are much deeper human needs than money. We have the core need to feel that our life is purposeful, that we are being useful to others, and that we are engaged in creative self expression.
The opportunities to be of genuine Service and to do things that fuel our Creativity — we know instinctively that this fosters deep happiness.
You can make enough money, a sustainable income, as a by-product of focusing on creativity and service… rather than “making money” as the primary objective.
It is polluting to humanity’s collective values environment, when experts focus on marketing to our baser instincts of greed or fame. It’s like the companies that market junk food, pornography, or violent video games. They rationalize:
“Don’t blame us… We’re just giving the people what they want!”
Increasingly, people want deeper things.
The same person who wants junk food, also has a higher impulse for healthy food. A person may crave pornography, but at the same time, feels a need for true love. And all of us may want to “make more money”, but at the same time, our higher impulse calls us:
“Serve meaningfully, and the money will come.”
Based on your meaningful generosity to others, money is earned as the natural reciprocity.
We authentic business owners have a purpose, opportunity, and responsibility to not only “give people what they want” — but to market to people’s higher impulses, so that our marketing itself can uplift our audiences… not bring them down to their baser instincts so that we can make a profit.
And as consumers of trainings, courses, and coaching, let us stop supporting the selling of greed & fame.
Unsubscribe from their newsletters. Unfollow their social media. Ignore the marketers who are primarily motivating you from your lower self.
By learning genuine & meaningful service, we find the support we need for life… including money… and the loving and loyal attention of others.
There’s nothing wrong with making money… except when that becomes the primary focus.
There’s nothing wrong with getting more attention… unless that dominates your thinking.
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run — in the long-run, I say! — success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.”
— Viktor Frankl, from the book “Man’s Search for Meaning”
How wonderful, that the purpose of life — and the way of authentic business success — are the same:
Learn to serve others meaningfully, and money/success/happiness will be created as well.
Originally published at www.georgekao.com.