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The Essence of Push and Pull: Motivation for Entrepreneurs

What kind of motivator are you?

Motivation is the underlying force for working toward everything we aspire to. Motivation prompts us to implement plans and set goals to realize our desires, hopes, and needs. Motivation is key to success, the fuel that makes our dreams come true.

Motivation pushes us towards new heights, prompting us to step out of our comfort zones to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks, and to become whoever we want to be.

But overcoming obstacles to success is not easy, especially if you are an entrepreneur.

As an entrepreneur, my entire life has been results-oriented. I have devoted my powers to building an authoritative company with highly skilled employees. I envision nothing but professional success in my future.

I have set high standards for my personal work ethic, and have worked hard to adhere to them. Trying to be aware of every minute process within my company, I have spent a lot of energy monitoring deadlines, overseeing deals, promoting communications and being involved in some way, in every function of my company.

To ensure a positive outcome, I have always held my team to the same standards of dedication and high performance. However, I did not understand that they would never have the same level of motivation as I had. For me, the business was my life. For them, my business was simply a job.

As time passed, my motivation expanded, but I noticed that some of my employees were becoming burned out. Even raising salaries and providing other financial incentives did not work. People had lost their drive to perform at their peak, simply because they did not feel their role and purpose had meaning in the overall process. I began to search for ways to inspire high levels of motivation in my employees.

I eventually realized that it all came down to management style.

What Type of Motivator are You?

Everyone who has ever been “into” something has experienced the feeling of motivation. It nurtures your aspirations to perform in ways that lead you to desired results.

But have you ever discovered the impetus behind your motivation? Sometimes your motivation for working is positive, and you strive to achieve your goals, despite all obstacles. But sometimes your motivation is negative, and you act out of fear, trying to avoid undesirable circumstances.

Having an overwhelming desire to revive my workers’ spirits, I came across two theories of motivation: Push and Pull. Push motivation is driven by a need to run from unwanted reality, while Pull motivation is a power that inspires you to attain successful results.

Any far-sighted entrepreneur should understand these two sides of motivation in order to inspire employees to do their best work. Let’s take a look at them and discover how they influence productivity in your company.

“Push” Motivation

People naturally push away from things and situations that undermine stability and comfort. Feeling threatened, you push yourself away from painful tasks and negative experiences. Push motivation comes from a human fear of forthcoming calamity, and a person is ready to do whatever it takes to avert the threat.

Because people are highly motivated to avoid unfavorable situations, some entrepreneurs use their workers’ fears as a means of manipulation. How does it work?

A worker who has been given strict deadlines, and has been told that failure to meet them could result in being fired, becomes incredibly motivated to work harder. They regularly work late, work on weekends, and cancel plans with friends and family. They dedicate all their resources to saving their job and salary.

The ongoing threat of loss of income and stability provides strong motivation for some workers, and can produce great results. Thus, it seems that the desire to avoid negative repercussions provides an effective push to work harder. This approach has serious downsides, though.

Firstly, Push motivation is despotic, oppressive and does not align with humane modern management principles. Only a totally desperate leader without any idea of successful entrepreneur principles uses threats as weapons for motivation.

Secondly, Push motivation is ephemeral. If a worker is initially unmotivated, as soon as they finish a task and are out of danger, they are likely to return to a habitual and not-very-productive working style.

Clearly the impulse to push away from difficulties is a very unstable source of motivation.

As an entrepreneur, you should remember that the most highly motivated person in the company is you, because you are highly invested in your company’s purpose and mission. If you want your employees to share your motivation, you must inspire them in ways that engage them in the process and give them a sense of purpose and value.

“Pull” Motivation

Pull motivation has a completely different origin. People who are pulled differ greatly in mindset from those who respond to push.

Unlike push-based motivation that is founded on fear, pull motivation comes from the intrinsic desire to develop skills in order to build a more perfect future. This happens when you find the right incentives to pull employees towards the universal goal.

Pull is not generated by external forces like fear of the boss, Pull comes from within yourself, from an intrinsic desire to perfect your life. Being pulled means not running from something undesirable, but rather toward your utmost desires.

So where does Pull motivation fit into an entrepreneur’s communication and management style?

A successful entrepreneur with strong intentions of creating a leading business will never manipulate employees by threatening them with dismissals, fines, penalties and demotions. These old-school methods will never bring long-term results in the modern marketplace. They will not inspire your workforce to enjoy what they do, and they will quickly burn out and move on.

To motivate your employees and inspire productivity, you must provide them with a sense of being important to the greater mission of the company. Explain why this business is universally important, and how they each contribute in significant ways. They must clearly understand that every worker brings indispensable value. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that each employee is sufficiently engaged and challenged in their work, and that they are recognized and rewarded for their achievements.

Pull motivation is a renewable source of energy. If applied properly, whether tasks are short-term or long-term, workers will maintain motivation and will be pulled toward their next accomplishment.

An entrepreneur’s challenge here is to build an enduring foundation for employee motivation that regularly fuels their work habits, maintains a positive world outlook and drives their goals, and those of the company, to the next level.

Every worker has a unique motive for doing their best work. The desire to obtain a new position, gain more professional experience, or make a difference in the world are all intrinsically motivating. Whether an employee’s goal is obtaining money and power, or being part of a life-changing organization, tapping into and fostering your employees’ desires can be a powerful tool for maximizing productivity.

Connecting with your employees, engaging them in your mission, and helping them attain their dreams will inevitably lead to your company’s success.

Summing Up

An entrepreneur’s ability to bring business ideas to life while inspiring employees to do their best work will ultimately determine a company’s success in the marketplace.

“Push” entrepreneurs prey upon workers’ fears to increase productivity, but ultimately get poor work quality coupled with low employee morale. “Pull” entrepreneurs create employee engagement, and attract workers who are motivated by their innermost desires, giving them a platform to realize their own goals.

In choosing your management style, understand that you yourself are not motivated by fear, but by your dreams, and treat your employees in the same way. To quote Rupert Murdoch:

In motivating people, you’ve got to engage their minds and their hearts. I motivate people, I hope, by example – and perhaps by excitement, by having productive ideas to make others feel involved.

Think about it. Just do it!

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