Motivation is overrated – Philippine Star

January 25, 2020 By ubuntucafe Off

This photographer is highly motivated. He has read a lot of motivational books and attended several motivational seminars.

He has taken photos for a national magazine and was assigned to get pictures of a great forest fire. However, smoke at the scene was too thick to get any good shots so he frantically called his home office to hire a plane. “It will be waiting for you at the airport!” he was assured by his editor. As soon as he got to the small, rural airport, sure enough, a plane was warming up near the runway. He jumped in with his equipment and yelled, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” The pilot swung the plane into the wind, and soon they were in the air. “Fly over the north side of the fire,” said the photographer, “and make three or four low level passes.” “Why?” asked the pilot. “Because I’m going to take pictures! I’m a photographer, and photographers take pictures!” said the photographer with great exasperation and impatience. After a long pause, the pilot said: “You mean you’re not the instructor?”

On January 6 of this year, I posted this material in my digital spaces. “Some people cannot perform better because they lack motivation. Not really. Motivation is frequently overrated. Many times, it is not the motivation they lack; what they lack is clarity. The clarity to know how to do things well. The clarity to know the repercussions of their work and their effect on others. The clarity to appreciate the rewards of work delivered with excellence and, most importantly, clarity to understand how the process affects the character and the being of the person doing the work. Clarity is power.

Motivation is overrated. Motivation without knowledge is dangerous. As a popular, witty book author once said, “Give me an idiot, I will motivate him, and you end up with a motivated idiot, and that’s not a good thing.” To level up and do greater things, what is needed is clarity.

Now this makes a lot more sense to men than women and has something to do with the urinals. There is something about Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam that has made a significant contribution to cost savings that is devoid of any “motivational” push. I wondered why urinals in hotels seem to have a “bug” or a “fly” near the center of the fixture. At first, I thought I saw a fly in the urinal, but then later, I notice every urinal has a “fly” in it. Here is the explanation. During the 1990s, the cleaning staff at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam came up with a brilliant idea on how to deal with “spillage” around the floor. They installed a small sticker that looked like a fly near the center of the urinal, and guess what happens? The men stepped up to the urinals, and they aimed for what they thought was a bug. The stickers improved their aim, and the result was that the reduction of spillage cut their cleaning costs by eight percent every year. Here is “clarity” in its literal sense.

You forget to take your daily vitamins. You think you are not motivated to appreciate the importance of health. Motivation is overrated. All you need to do is to place your vitamins where your daily morning habit of water or coffee drinking is, then you would take your vitamins regularly. All you need is clarity.

Those extra pounds you gained during the holidays still has not melted away. You think you are not motivated enough to exercise? When you wake up in the morning make sure that one of the first things you see is your exercise gear. Put them on immediately before you do anything else. That is clarity.

If you want to eradicate unhealthy habits, then you do the reverse. Want to manage your weight or lose a couple of pounds? Remove all the snack foods away from sight. Want to have sane moments to do something useful? Then charge your phone in another room. Turn off all the notifications. Don’t have it near your bed if you want uninterrupted sleep. It is not motivation; it’s clarity you need.

But clarity encompasses a body of knowledge that aligns with truth and reality. A lack of knowledge would render things unclear, and all those silly motivational stuffs you do would not help you achieve substantial success.

As well-meaning as many of my clients are, they introduce me as “One of the most sought-after “motivational” speakers in the country…” I cringe a little bit. I do not “motivate” people. I wish to educate people and share ideas that provide clarity for them so they can improve their work and themselves.

After going through my Level Up Leadership training, most participants would describe the experience as “Very Inspiring!” None would say, “It was Very Motivational!” They discovered that the ideas shared are useful, and through their insights and realizations, they can begin to use them for growing their businesses or making themselves better.

Motivation might deal with the manipulation of emotions and feelings. But the transformation from these is not sustainable. Education and inspiration deal with the intellect that inspires the person to become self-motivated. Yes, motivation is many times overrated. I hope this brings clarity to the point I am making.

(Francis Kong’s Level Up Leadership 2020 workshop-seminar runs on March 11 and 12 at Makati Diamond Residences. For further inquiries or reservations contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at