5 Questions to Help You Uncover Your Motivation

If there is one thing that’s true about children, it’s that each one is unique. You can’t predict it, plan for it, or anticipate it. No one child is the same, even if they are raised by the same parents. My wife and I will be the first to attest to that.

Many people tried to tell us this in advance, but we didn’t listen. After all, we’re disciplined people who are consistent in our approach to just about every area of life. It only seemed logical to assume that we’d be consistent in our parenting, too. (These are the kinds of things people without children say to themselves only to laugh at later.)

We love our children, but each of them has a distinct personality. And I think we could legitimately say that we were consistent in our expectations of each of them, especially in their early years. But that had little impact on their personality, inclinations, and motivations. They are who are they, and they were that way from the very beginning.


If this observation is true, then it must also be true as we grow up. There is a person behind every job description in your organization. While they fit the educational requirements and career experience to be extended the opportunity to fill the role, no two employees are exactly alike. It is not profitable to expect everyone to be motivated in the same way. And the worst offense is to expect others to act, think, and behave just like you.

As leaders, it’s imperative to look within before trying to help others. One thing I would strongly encourage you to do is to ask yourself these questions:

·      What motivates you? Be honest. Don’t tell yourself what you think you “should” say.

·      When did you discover that? Think about a specific experience that helped you understand how motivation works within you.

·      In what ways has your motiviation served you well? Where has it held you back? What motivates you should fuel your success.

·      How have you learned to channel your motivations in positive and productive ways? Living a disciplined life helps you leverage what motivates you for good things.

It’s important to remember that your reason for being where you are in life may be different from others. That’s OK. In fact, it’s a good thing. If you were motivated in the same way that everyone else was, it would create conflict. Just think about if everyone wanted to be at the top, make the most money, or hold the most power. Everything would be a zero-sum situation, and you’d likely spend most of your time in an endless stalemate.


If everyone is motivated differently, how can you help others discover what motivates them so they can use that to their advantage, the advantage of the team, and even the advantage of the organization? I think it begins with five key questions:

1.     What gets you up in the morning? This question will uncover what causes you to take the initiative in your life and your career. Whatever that is, it's a signal that you should invest further there and find ways to do more of those things.

2.     What keeps you up at night? This question will reveal the places where you’re trying to be someone that you’re not. It’s hard to be motivated by the expectations of others. If what you do and who you are doesn’t originate from within, then you’re not being true to your divine design.

3.     What must happen for you to be happy, whole, and fulfilled? This question will help surface what's most important to you. If you understand your goals, you will begin to understand better what motivates you and can get in alignment and agreement with those things.

4.     What were the significant pivots in your life up to this point? This question will help you reflect on the actions you took in a variety of real-life scenarios. What you do, the decisions you make, and the stands you take, define who you are.

5.     If time and money are not objects, what would you and how would you invest your time and energy? This question attempts to remove the filters that can keep you from believing you were meant for more than your past or present might allow you to believe is possible.

Once you discover what motivates you, you can begin to unlock the potential within yourself. Now it’s time to put what you’ve discovered into use. Let me encourage you to do these things next:

·      Share your thoughts with someone very close to you. If you’re married, this could be yourself. If you’re single, this could be a very close friend. This person likely already knows these things about you and can affirm what you see in yourself.

·      Determine what needs to change. What needs to be true to bring your best self in alignment with your deepest motivations? For example, if you’re in a sales job where you’re constantly chasing a financial target but you’re motivated to build things, then you likely need to consider a job change.

·      Outline a personal action plan. That includes setting specific milestones, key steps, and target dates. If you don’t change your behavior, you won’t experience lasting change in your life. So hold yourself accountable and make it true.


You are a beautiful expression of God’s creativity. Stop trying to be someone that you’re not, and let go of the idea that you need to be motivated by the same things that motivate others. The world needs you to be you.

If you’re a manager or leader of people, it’s incumbent upon you to learn what motivates the people on your team and help them become the best version of themselves. And if you're somehow living inconsistently with your core being, the power to change rests within you.

The more you understand yourself, the better you’ll understand the power of context and perspective to provide critical insights when times of decision come along. Say yes to the adventure that is in front of you—and do so because it matters to you.

CHALLENGE: Do you understand what motivates you? Do you understand the people on your team? Commit to spending time with someone close to you to evaluate if you have an accurate take on your motivations. Evaluate if you're living in alignment and agreement with yourself. Determine what needs to change, what you need to continue, and what's next for you.