Motivation Versus Inspiration. Defining Moments

Written By Jen Croneberger

Motivation Vs. Inspiration

I often hear talk about motivating your team… I get questions about how to do so and techniques that are long lasting. I have been asked more so lately than ever the difference between motivation and inspiration, some even going as far as asking if there really is a difference. Well, what say you? I have a deeply defined understanding of the two concepts. Hopefully after reading this article you will too.

Here we go…

In psychology, motivation is defined as the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. In psychology there is also a discussion about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation. I tend to disagree with this idea because of the fact that most motivation is extrinsic. I can motivate my players by firing them up. However, the burn-off effect of motivation is quick. It is like a rocket lifting off. It's quickly gone after the loud boom. The reason why external motivation often is fleeting is because every athlete is different and has different levels of what moves them to action.

Before we go further, let's get to the bottom of why we are even talking about this. Most coaches ask me how to motivate their teams. This question is interesting to me. I don't know how to answer that really. The truth is, there is a deeper desire here. It's not really about motivating the team… it's about getting the most out of them to succeed. Motivation is nothing if they don't take action. I sat and thought about this for a while. Again, in my mind, it comes back to the why. To every piece I have written about from the first month I wrote an article for this paper a year ago. Why are we coaching, and why are they playing? Defining that, understanding it, and deciding to make that your soul focus all of a sudden changes the game.

So back to motivation. It's helpful. It's good. And it can be fun…but the trophy, the rah-rah, the high never really lasts. So motivation is not really what you are asking for is it? Motivating your players isn't really what you seek to do…

I would like to suggest we use motivation for what it's worth, but we understand the real intrinsic value of inspiration. In Latin, “inspiration” means “to breathe life into.” This got me thinking. To breathe life into… to feel a strong pull toward something that one is meant to do… to feel almost a divine calling to be, do and have what it is that you are focused on. In Spirit. This seems a little longer-lasting than the 5th inning 13 second rah-rah speech in the dugout. It exists regardless of outcome. It have no bearing on win or lose. It doesn't know any better.

Ahh. Deep stuff. But this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where the “mental game” can really get traction. This is why when I talk about the mental game I know I have different thoughts than most. But that's ok… I like to be different. To me, it's not just about helping our athletes feel good in that moment, or not beat themselves up over mistakes that inning. It's more than that. It's deeper than that. It's the responsibility of any good coach to understand that. Challenge yourself to sit with this for a few minutes. Motivation is filled with empty promises. Inspiration is the real golden egg we all seek to understand and embrace. Ok… so how? What do we do next?

Well… Nothing. We don't DO anything. We must BE a leader who inspires. When we come from a place of passion, purpose, and a deeper understanding of WHY, we will inspire others to do the same. Sound familiar? Yeah… I thought so. How many of you actually wrote out your personal mission statement/philosophy last month? How many of you know your WHY to such a deep level, there is no questioning it? It's NON-NEGOTIABLE… Inspiration must follow suit. It just is. It comes from within. Has no bearing on trophies or awards or stats. It doesn't care whether or not you fail. It is a long, committed relationship in the way that motivation is a one night stand.

I long to be inspired forever to coach from this place. When I lose that, I will hang it up. If I am no good to my team and I only become a good motivator, I will be trying to draw blood from a stone. It dries up. Frustration moves in. Teams fall apart. It's as clear as day when I see it happen. I have often been asked to work with teams in big Division 1 programs. I am always amazed at the disconnect between coach and team. It's not all teams, but those that seem to feel “vacant” of their why. All good warriors rally behind a cause. With no cause, there is no WHY. Good coaches lay this foundation with inspiration and a consistency of knowing… Having faith and trusting the process. Good teams follow this. They find their own inspiration and that becomes everything. This is the path of a champion. These are the defining moments.

It starts from within. It ends from within. And the process is all the same.

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Jen Croneberger: Jen Croneberger is currently the president of JLynne Consulting Group, LLC. and has held numerous coaching positions, including the head coach at Unionville High School, assistant and head coach at Ursinus College and the Mental Game Coach for the (NPF’s), Philadelphia Force. Jen has also worked with big Division 1 programs as well as some of the top travel teams. She serves as the Education and Publications Committee Chair for the NFCA. She was selected by the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry as the 2009 Female Business Leader of the Year. Jen writes The Five Words Blog, and her latest project is her book: ”These Five Words Are Mine,”

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