WATCH: There is a Paradox in Motivation

Today, I’d like to talk about ‘The Paradox of Motivation’. If we think of a paradox as two opposing statements that in fact are both true. Or two potentially opposite traits, which when they come together are in fact synergistic. And, the two traits I’d like to talk about in the Paradox of Motivation are ‘Self-Motivation’ and ‘Stress Management’.

“Stressed Achievement”

Where self-motivation is that drive, that enthusiasm, the enjoyment of a challenge, and just taking initiative, doing stuff. And that drives do lots. And that stress management is about being relaxed and being able to deal with stress when it occurs. So, if we’re super motivated and we’re driven by doing all that stuff and taking all that initiative and wanting to achieve our goals. But we don’t have the balance of being able to manage our stress. We can end up in ‘Stressed Achievement’.

And as you probably know that stress achievement leads to pessimistic thinking at least to a threat response. It means that we’re making accidental connections in our brains that aren’t actually connected.  And we’ll connect them and make a pessimistic conclusion from them. And we tend to get very tunnel vision. So, we’re narrow-minded in our approach. All of those combine and build up and in fact, that can lead to burnout and making stupid mistakes in fact.

“Tranquil Inertia”

And also, it can lead to, if we get this builds up to falling into ‘Tranquil Inertia’. We fall into the opposite where actually our motivation drops away completely and we don’t really want to do anything. And you probably have
experienced out of the weekend when perhaps you’ve had a really busy week and then you find that you just want to do nothing. You know you’ve got lots of things you would like to perhaps do and you go “You know what, I’m just going to sit with a glass of wine and watch some TV”. So, think about how you can balance your motivation with ensuring that you have enough tools and techniques to calm yourself. To keep yourself calm. To be able to deal with stress when it occurs. Because, if not you’ll fall into this tranquil inertia and that can actually mean that your motivation just disappears.

“Poised Achievement”

When we have both of these together, we get ‘Poised Achievement’, where we can have the drive. It’s not about not having the Drive. It’s about having the balancing effect of that stress management with our motivation.


So, when it comes to Motivation,

Stay Curious!


I would be interested to hear your thoughts and opinions about any of the above so drop me a line at

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Remember . . . Stay Curious!


With best regards,

David Klaasen 

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©David Klaasen – 2014