Archive for January, 2012

January 31, 2012

More Persistance

At work, I am currently working on a challenging project.

The challenges of this project are environmental. The solutions that the entire team know are best are currently not options due to cultural and philosophical constraints.

In this environment, it is tempting to engage in “problem admiration”. I have an entire team of people that I could admire this problem with. However multiple conversations based on problem admiration are not the best use of my time.

In this situation, I feel that the best thing that I can do is focus on what I can do. I will do everything possible to remain positive while ensuring that the others I work with feel heard. I will share the small positive successes that come along the way.

I will persist.

I may not completely solve all of the difficulties on this challenging project, but I can make a difference.

January 30, 2012

Patience, Practice and Persistence

Patience, Practice and Persistence

“Losing is just Learning to Win…” – Robert J Bautista

“Dont mistake slow progress for failure” – Mazemangriot

“There is no failure, only feedback” – Jay Rando

One of the reasons that intrinsic motivation is important for us to achieve our long-term life goals our complete a major project is that it may take a long time to achiever our goals. There are so many examples of people working for years for their “overnight success to happen.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote two different books that speak to this point. In “The Tipping Point”, we learned that for many new ideas, there is a point at which an idea goes “viral”. In “Outliers”, we learned that Bill Gates and the Beatles spent about 10,000 hours practicing the skills that made them famous.

If we love what we do, we are not dependant on success being just around the corner. If we quit, we have lost. If we practice, we learned from any feedback that we receive along the way to achieving our goals.

Success is enjoying the journey and experiencing gratitude everyday.

Practice what you love. Persist in your actions. Be patient for the possible rewards for your actions.

We can control our actions, our responses and what we choose to experience as success.

January 28, 2012

Sometimes you need extrinsic rewards

The other day I heard a great podcast on NPR’s Planet Money

In summary, the farmers in the town of Xiaogang were forced by the communist party to farm in a collective. They did not own the land and were required to work on a schedule dictated to them by the communist party. The government would take all the food that the collective grew and then share it with each family. There was no extrinsic reward for working harder or for growing more food. No matter how well the farmers did, they always received the same amount from the government. The amount of food that they received was insufficient in feeding their families.

“In Xiaogang there was never enough food, and the farmers often had to go to other villages to beg. Their children were going hungry.”

To solve this problem, the villagers agreed to split up the land into family plots. If a family worked hard and grew lots of food, that family could keep some of the food. Now, these families had the promise of an extrinsic reward for their efforts. Before the agreement, families would only start working when the whistle blew to start their work day. After the agreement, many families went out before dawn.

“At the end of the season, they had an enormous harvest: more, Yen Hongchang says, than in the previous five years combined.”

There can be great power to be rewarded for your efforts. There is also power to know that the harder you work, the more you will be rewarded for your efforts. If one of your goals is to earn enough to support your family, sometimes intrinsic motivation is not enough.

May you be rewarded for all of your efforts!

January 28, 2012

Extrinsic Rewards

Over the last week, we have highlighted the benefits of intrinsic motivation. In short, when we are doing what we love or willingly choose to do, we do not spend extraneous energy resisting the task at hand.


However, there are very few people who are intrinsically motivated to perform all their life tasks or responsibilities. In these instances, we rely on extrinsic rewards to keep us motivated to encourage us to complete these required tasks.


The most common extrinsic reward that we may experience is that of a paycheck. Even those who experience a lot of intrinsic motivation or satisfaction in our work still appreciate the benefit of being paid. Another common extrinsic reward is praise. Again, even if we love doing a task, praise is almost always appreciated.


Extrinsic reinforcement is valuable since it can be used as a tool to shape habits that will lead to personal success. For example, if you do not intrinsically enjoy eating healthy foods, counting calories or exercising on a daily basis, you would need the extrinsic rewards to reinforce goals related to weight loss. The extrinsic rewards may be a tangible reward that you promise yourself such as “when I reach my target weight of ___, I will treat myself to a $200 shopping spree”. Other possible extrinsic reward for this situation would be the attention that you would get from friends and family when you attain your goal. In some writings on the topic of extrinsic rewards, the act of achieving your goal can be described as an extrinsic reward.


“A Tale of Two Homeworks”

I have two sons with very different homework needs. My eldest son loves learning and excited to study new things.  He internally motivated to get his homework folder on a daily basis. Even though he is mostly internally motivated, he still requires some prompting of extrinsic rewards such as making sure that he homework is complete, accurate and handed in on time to earn the privilege of an “E” marking.


My youngest son is intrinsically motivated to play “Angry Birds” and to play with his “Hot wheel cars”. However, our society values reading, writing and math skills over playing video games and running a car down orange tracks. Therefore, extrinsic rewards are very helpful in facilitating the homework process. By allowing my youngest son to choose his extrinsic reward, he will complete his homework. Without the intrinsic reward, he would avoid the entire task.


“Task completion”

Sometimes, completion of tasks can be an extrinsic reward. I do not intrinsically relish taking out the trash, sweeping the floor, folding the laundry or emptying the dishwasher. However, I am motivated of the intrinsic reward of having these tasks completed.


“Tools to use”

Since we are typically not intrinsically motivated to do everything that we are required in our lives, it is helpful to reward ourselves for these life events.

–       Set up a reward schedule when adopting a new habit (such as counting calories on a daily basis)

–       Give yourself a big reward (such as a shopping spree or a fun activity with your friends) when you have performed the new habit for 22 days consistently

–       Praise yourself regularly for each time you have completed a required task that leads to your goals

–       Set up achievable short-term goals that you can celebrate.

–       For tasks that you seem to regularly procrastinate, set a time goal and reward yourself for getting it down (for me, finishing a report to earn a cup of coffee works)


There are many other ways that you can reward yourself. If you feel that you have any excellent ideas, please leave your ideas in the comments section.


Celebrate and reward yourself!


January 27, 2012

An example of intrinsic motivation

I feel that a great example of intrinsic motivation is the book that my son has started. He is 8 years old and he is excited by reading fantastic stories of kids in Elementary school. Once I stated that it was possible to be an author, he started his own blog. In his first day,  he wrote six chapters of this own book before noon. He started writing since writing was fun and exciting! We did not have to promise to reward him.

His book is called “Hillside Elementary”. The book is posted at

Tomorrow, we will discuss possible examples of extrinsic motivation.

January 26, 2012

Find Your Passion

Find you Passion!


In the last few posts, we have discussed how powerful an intrinsic locus of control as well as intrinsic motivation can help us more forward. It is beneficial for us to know that we are in control of our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, habits and actions. Since intrinsic motivation can be more powerful than working for a reward, we are more efficient when we are doing what we love. However, any people do not take the time to reflect on their passion or purpose.


There is a simple exercise that you can do to find your passion or purpose. It is helpful to set give yourself at least ten minutes to complete this activity.


Take out a blank piece of paper or open a new word processing document. At the top of the document, choose one of the following phrases that best matches how you would think.

– “My purpose in life is”

– “My mission in life is”

– “My passion in life is”.

– “I feel I was placed on this Earth for”

-“I feel I was created for”

(or create you own phrase related to your life passion or purpose)


Next, start listing all the ideas that come into your head such as:

–       “help other people”

–       “make sure that children are loved and supported”

–       “to solve problems that allow people to live simpler lives”

–       “to ensure economic prosperity for my family”

–       “to have fun by creating art and music”

–       “to support my family so they feel safe and loved”

–       “sharing my ideas through writing and speaking”

–       “to promote collaboration and cooperative in all areas of my life”


Stop writing either when you have run out of ideas or if one of your ideas gives you such an emotional response that you think “yeah, this is what I am here for”.


Once you have completed you list, rate the items in terms of how strong you feel about each item on an emotional level. For this exercise, avoid all temptation of overthinking each item since you do not want to talk yourself out of a possible life passion. Do your best to stop possible depreciative internal dialogue such as “I feel that I was created for creating a just and safe world for my children but I know that there are too many things that I can’t control and I just don’t know where to start and my friends might think it is foolish if I share this idea with them….”


Once you have rated your items on this list, you should have a clear idea of what you are passionate about. The next step would be to ask your self some follow up questions such as:

–       How could I get more of what I am passionate about in my life?

–       How could I use my passion to create value for others?

–       Are there any jobs that I could perform that include what I am passionate about?


If you find something that you love to do, you will enjoy the time that you spend doing it. It is better to pursue something that you like to do since you will more likely stick with it and feel better about it.


For example, I get many e-mails about these “foolproof” money making opportunities. I have analyzed some of these opportunities, and they do have the chance and making money for you.


For example, it you are not truly passionate about buying property below market value, renovating homes and selling them for a profit, it is unlikely that you would be motivated to stick with the work involved to make money. On the other had, If you like the excitement of researching real estate markets, analyzing trends of property values, love working with real estate agents, mortgage companies, home inspectors, pest control companies and assorted contractors, there is a greater chance that you will follow through and make a good living for yourself.


If we are solely focused on “making money”, we may find a way to make money, but still be dis-satisfied. If we focus on what we like to do and what we are good at and then find aspects of our current job with those elements or possible positions that fulfill our passions, we are more likely to be satisfied on a daily basis.


I hope that you are able to find your passion.


January 24, 2012

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Yesterday we discussed internal and external locus of control. In summary, it was suggested that it is best to own what we can control such as our actions, beliefs, thoughts, feelings and our reactions to what we cannot control. We also discussed that there are some circumstances where we need to “give it up to fate” such as circumstances we can’t control such as the weather, the stock market and people driving recklessly.

Another related topic is that of  “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from within such as doing things we love or have an interest in. Extrinsic motivation comes from the outside environment such as getting paid to do a job we are not that excited about or by the fear of being yelled at by our boss for coming in to work late.

Most often we experience intrinsic motivation when performing those things we choose to do on our spare time. As a surfer, I am intrinsically motivated to get up a dawn and drive to the beach before the wind textures the surf. As a runner, my wife gets up early every day to ensure that she gets her run in.

The most common experience of extrinsic motivation is that of working for a paycheck. If you do not intrinsically love what you do, then the only way that you are going to drag yourself to work is for the promise of tangible reimbursement.

Tomorrow we will discuss the benefits of intrinsic motivation.

January 23, 2012

Locus of Control

In 1954, Julian B. Rotter created the personality psychology theory of Locus of control. This concept referred to the extent individuals believes they can control their life circumstances. The term “locus” is derived from the Latin word for “place”.

As with many of our discussions about either/or concepts, one’s internal locus of control is not absolute. Some may adopt an internal locus of control for some situations and an external locus of control

If one has an “internal locus of control”, that person believes that they have the ability to control their lives since their life events are a direct result of their behaviors and actions.

If one has an “external locus of control”, that person believes that the causes of their life circumstances are a result of external factors such as other the actions of others, the environment, luck, fate, or a higher power.

Some reported benefits of an internal locus of control include better control of one’s behavior, more attempts to influence other’s behavior, assumption that actions will be successful, and actively seeking information ( According to, ( research has shown that those with an internal locus of control-tend to be happier, less depressed, and less stressed.

I feel that it is reasonable to extrapolate that people with a greater internal locus of control will assume more responsibility for their beliefs, thoughts feelings and actions. I feel that it is very important for someone with a strong internal locus of control to  adopt an appreciative view of the world and commit to positive self talk. If we believe that we are responsible, do poorly on a task and then deride ourselves on the outcome of the task, we would surely be depressed.

There are also some benefits of an external locus of control. For example, if there were a situation that you cannot control directly, it would be beneficial to emotionally “let go” of the situation and “give it up to fate”. For example, we working on an academic paper it is valuable to adopt and internal locus of control of all the steps that you need to perform in the data collection and writing process. Since you cannot control the results of your experiment, you need to let go of your exceptions. It is also beneficial to “let go” when you send the article for peer review since you cannot control the opinion of others.

January 21, 2012

Celebrate Personal Success!

It is very important to celebrate your personal successes! When you achieve a goal that you have set for yourself, it is best to positively reinforce yourself by celebrating your accomplishments. That way, you experience a sense of satisfaction and keep momentum towards your other goals.

 Although it may feel good to share your successes with others, it is best not to be attached to that person’s emotional response. For example, when you shared your success with another, it may be perceived that you are bragging. Other times, when you share what you feel is a major success, other people may not perceive your accomplishment as something significant, and therefore may not react as excited as you hoped that they would.

 Remember; own YOUR success since the goal that you set was important to YOU! If people want to celebrate with you, that’s cool! Remember it is best not to depend on others for how you feel about yourself (I plan on talking more about intrinsic locus of control in the next few days).

 Today, I am excited for a couple of short term and one long-term accomplishment.

1)   I am excited that I have blogged every day for a full month!

2)   I am grateful that I have met my weight loss goal that I set 60 days ago!


Both of these short-term accomplishments required consistent daily action. For blogging daily, I made sure I set aside time every day for writing and I held myself accountable on a daily basis. For losing weight, each day I attended to everything I ate and made sure that I exercised.


For my long-term goal, I have been published (along with my follow co-authors) in a professional journal. The paper’s abstract can be found at:

 For this goal, the group of us has been working on this project since 2005. After conducing our data collection, data collection, writing the paper collaboratively, submitting for publication, revising the paper based on editorial suggestions and re-submitting the paper for publication, it is finally complete! For this accomplishment, patience and persistence were required.


I wish you all success in all you endeavors!