What’s My Motivation?

Starting a ‘Work Programme’ in the hopes of finally locating that job out there with my name on it, I had it brought home to me that a major hurdle facing me is explaining my motivation to potential employers (and, indeed, my new advisor).

The fact is that people are usually lumped into one of two general classes – those of slacker and go-getter. The slackers are those who don’t really want to work, the workshy layabouts and the lazy employees who turn up late and do as little as possible. The go-getters are those who are driven by some need or desire – whether it is something mundane such as needing to support a family or pay off their debts, or some ambition, whether wealth, a dream job, success, status, power or approval, they aim to excel (whether successfully or not). The former don’t really have any motivation, whilst the latter are full of it (or desperation).

The problem facing me is that I fall into neither group; I am neither a slacker nor a go-getter in traditional terms. I am not in debt, I don’t have a mortgage, I have no children to feed, my general needs are relatively frugal in their nature. I do not desire to be wealthy, I do not demand status, I seek no approval. I am, perhaps, too easily satisfied. Anything beyond my basic needs is a bonus, not a necessity. Lacking any of these obvious driving forces, I ought to fit in well with the slackers.

But, slacker is not an accurate portrayal of my motivation. What actually drives me is my personal integrity or self-worth. I do not believe that people who are capable of working shouldjust sit back and expect others to support them. Nor do I believe that it is a good thing for people to rely upon others for their needs unless absolutely necessary. Thus, I don’t want a job because I need it for some mercenary ambition or out of desperation; I want a job because I would rather not be a burden upon others nor at their whim. And, when it comes to actually doing the job, I want to do a good job not because I want a pay rise, nor because I want some accolade or attaboy, but because I respect myself too much not to do my best. Whether highly rewarded or giving my time for free, if I have agreed to do something I will do it to the best of my ability.

Unfortunately, this is not always an easy point to get across to an employer. In the modern world of largely faceless job applications, especially if filling-in an application form, it is hard to convince someone that you would make a good employee when you are not couching your application in terms of how it will further your career goals or your desperation to work for their wonderful company. Thus, the employer is more likely to take the person who can fake enthusiasm for their company or demonstrate a self-interested drive rather than someone like me who might not be highly enthused about working specifically for them but would do a far better job because they are dedicated to their integrity not their success. Interestingly, a new study into promotions bears this out with an employee’s level of confidence being the primary factor in their success rather than their actual capabilities. Which certainly explains a lot….

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