How to Create Greater ‘Intrinsic’ Motivation & Drive

How to Create Greater ‘Intrinsic’ Motivation and Drive in You and Your Team by Ambrose Blowfield

One clear difference I saw in my eldest daughter and EVERY SINGLE elite athlete I’ve ever studied, and the vast majority of people is “MOTIVATION”. It’s not that regular people are unmotivated. It’s that the “type” of motivation that drives them differs between those two groups. Intrinsic motivation always beats extrinsic motivation. I’ll share some of those practical insights below, as well as ways to improve in this oft-considered ‘out of reach area’ of life. 

What have Michael Jordan, Richie McCaw, Novac Djokovic got in common with my eldest daughter? They are all INTRINSICALLY motivated. 

Extrinsic motivation is external. It comes from a manager, a teacher, a coach or a parent. It usually starts as simple words of encouragement. It can escalate in rewards or even threats. It works well, for a time. BUT once it stops working, it rarely recovers its power. 

Think about it for a moment: a parent asks a child to tidy their room or do their homework. Many times that can work. Sometimes a reward is offered. BUT: if the child refuses to comply, there is little left in the arsenal of the parent aside from threats. Threats only work for a while also, especially if they’re not carried out. In fact, any child who learns the pattern will likely delay and avoid doing the requested task UNTIL they’re offered a reward: why bother until you can win from the situation, right?!

Extrinsic motivational techniques are what we’ve taught to hundreds of Sales Managers and Business Owners. They cover proven ways to motivate people towards a goal, ways to hold people accountable for over and under-performance. These are all very useful, but they’ll only go so far if you want world class performers.  

Intrinsic motivation is the most powerful tool there is to drive performance. Intrinsic motivation is internal. It is what drives the individual to push themselves to higher and higher levels. It’s what gets them out of bed in the morning, to be the best they can be. I recall our daughter heading to our cold, damp garage in Taranaki at 6am, 3 times a week, by herself, aged 9. Her “why” was simple: to become New Zealand’s best dancer (especially ballet) at age 15. What my wife Jo and I knew then was that OUR extrinsic motivation of her could NEVER drive that sustained behaviour for 6 years straight. It HAD to come from her. We therefore had to give her the tools such as a fixed ballet bar, stereo and wall mirror in the garage, and back away. We couldn’t (thankfully) dance or train for her, she had to drive her future. 

The same goes for Michael Jordan, Richie McCaw and Novac Djokovic. Their WHY, to be the best in the world for what they do, is intrinsic, not extrinsic. Their vision and dream was enough to not only be the best in the world in their era, but to also be considered as a GOAT (Greatest of All Time).

Whether you agree or disagree that the above 3 people are indeed the GOAT in their sports, the  person I believe to be the undisputed GOAT of New Zealand sport is lesser-known Paraolympian Sophie Pascoe. She has won more gold medals AND more Olympic medals than any other Kiwi in history. I paid to hear her speak a few years ago and two of her “habits” that she had normalised through discipline stood out to me: 


  • She said she had NEVER missed a day of practice in 15 years!
  • She always took the time to prepare for the next day, BEFORE she went to sleep



I observed these 2 traits in my daughter at the time of hearing. I recall that weekly she would return home on a Monday and Tuesday night after 12 hours at the dance studio, buzzing with energy, and refusing to sleep until she’d laid out her sportswear for the next day. I also recall picking her up from Auckland Airport as a 14-year-old after she’d danced in Texas, London and Hong Kong over a 10 week period… and when we suggested that she come home for a good Kiwi lamb roast, she looked us dead in the eye as if we were mad and said: “I can’t, it’s training tonight!” THIS is the mentality of champions! This is what sets the abnormal from the normal. And while our daughter never got to the levels of Pascoe, Jordan or McCaw, she did achieve her 6-year journey in becoming New Zealand’s top dancer ONE DAY BEFORE she turned 15! It’s funny how a clear, time-lined vision, and endless sacrifice works out in the end isn’t it?!

The same two traits that Sophie Pascoe and our daughter shared at the time are what I’ve been coaching salespeople on for near 20 years:

  1. Training, coaching and role plays are PART OF your role in sales. The more you practice, the better you’ll perform on the day. As the US Navy Seal quote goes: “Under pressure you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training!”
  2. The secret to world-class client sales meetings is preparation,. If you don’t have a world-class sales process that includes a world-class preparation phase, you’ll NEVER consistently perform at the highest level in sales. 


So, how do we mere mortals replicate this high-performance thinking and behaviours? 

How can we learn intrinsic motivation?

For you, me and everyone in your team to maximise intrinsic motivation, we need to uncover and connect to our DEEPER ‘WHY’. I have written and taught on this subject for many years, in fact we even have a great little proven process that forces you to express your “why” in under 45 minutes! To save you time, here are some tips:

  1. Find out what your personal why that is closest to your heart – such as buying a home or achieving financial freedom
  2. Find out what why drives you in your family – such as getting married or paying for your children to attend university
  3. Find out what drives your ‘giving’ to the world – such as feeding the poor or funding church missions


Once you unlock your deeper “whys” or “WHY”, you’ll likely “do all it takes” to achieve those dreams to positively impact your life and the lives of those around you. You don’t need to become the GOAT in your field, you simply need to be the best version of yourself that you can be. DO ask for extrinsic motivation from those around you, to get your started, but to drive you long-term you’ll likely need to unlock that intrinsic power you possess!


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