Is climbing this mountain impossible?

Is climbing this mountain impossible?

It depends … what type of motivation are we talking here?

Think of the different types of motivation as climbing a mountain. The more internally motivated you are, the higher you climb. This is self-determination theory in a nutshell.

The 6 steps of the motivation mountain

You start out at the foot of the mountain, having made no progress, with amotivation. That’s when you have low-to-none levels of motivation. If you’re a fighter, it’s the same as not knowing why you fight.

As you climb up the self-determination path a little bit and you’ll find external regulation. If you’re motivated purely by rewards (or to avoid coach’s punishment), this is as far as you’ll get. Externally motivated athletes rarely last.

Introjected regulation: when you reach here, you’ve finally developed a motive to act, unfortunately that motive is usually to avoid negative personal feelings. Which, it turns out, doesn’t get you that high up the mountain.

You’re still looking outside at this point in the climb – and you see identified regulation. This high up, you know your goals, and you’re willing to put the work in to reach them. In fact, you’re doing the climb, even though you hate it, because it’s instrumental to another goal (maybe glory or money?).

Muhammad Ali hates training, but wants to be a champion
Muhammad Ali reminding us that sometimes “identified regulation” is enough to be a Champion.

Near identified regulation and even closer to intrinsic motivation, you’ll find integrated regulation. Finally, your behavior becomes internally controlled. Yet still, you are motivated by an external goal rather than the joy of the climb.

Finally, you’ve reached the top, the apex, the pinnacle. Intrinsic motivation – your internal drive. You are, as the intrinsically motivated climber, evoked by your internal need to climb. You’re willing to push through hardships where others falter and that’s why you’ve reached the top.

Intrinsic motivation can be broken down into 3 parts, best explained with these 3 quotes:

1. knowledge

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
~ Albert Einstein

2. accomplishment

Winning isn’t worthwhile unless one has something finer and nobler behind it.
~ Amos Alonzo Stagg

3. stimulation

You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.
~ Arthur Ashe


Inspiration for this post: Defining The Three Main Types of Motivation, and Evaluating the Consequences of Each Type on Participation in Sport and Physical Activity.

P.S. I ran a Facebook contest last week where fans submitted their favorite motivation quotes. Some were serious, some were funny, all were awesome. Here are the entries:

  • “A ship is safest in the harbor but that’s not where ships are meant to be”
  • “Dreams don’t work unless you do”
  • “A river cuts through a rock, not because of its power, but its persistence.”
  • “Are you going to do something, or just stand there and bleed?”
  • “Just know, when you truly want success, you’ll never give up on it. No matter how bad the situation may get.”
  • “Just train”
  • “Hard work pays off”.
  • “Everybody Pities the weak, jealousy you have to earn”
  • “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
  • “Leave your ego at the door.”

If you want a chance to win the next contest, I’d love to have you be a part of the community on Facebook.

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