Core Motivation is a much broader, deeper, and explanatory drive than “intrinsic” motivation. Here’s why, and here’s why it’s critical for you to understand what yours is.
Intrinsic motivation is almost always pitted against extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is typically defined as behaving for the sake of the action itself, or for “rewards” that are internal rather than external. For instance, I just love to read to run for the sake of reading or running itself.
Now, this is almost always set in contrast to extrinsic motivation, which is behaving due to some kind of external reward or the threat of punishment. In other words, it’s typically framed as an either/or proposition – either you are intrinsically motivated or extrinsically motivated. If you do a quick google search of these terms, you’ll find them set against each other as contrasting concepts in every result.
But there’s a serious problem with this! Some people can, in the same action and for the same purpose, be both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated.
Think of the boy scout who loves collecting merit badges. Think of the venture capitalist who loves expanding her portfolio of companies. The definition of extrinsic motivation fits – they work to get the reward. But they also take great intrinsic delight and maybe even joy in the actions involved in getting those rewards. There are many, many more examples where this is true. This illustrates why the overly simplistic intrinsic vs. extrinsic contrast is inadequate.
So intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are fine for describing some types of motivations, but they fail to capture the unique behavior of many people. They fail to get at the heart of a person’s behavior and what is truly driving it, the core driving purpose that ultimately explains why some people become deeply engaged in certain activities and fail to be engaged in others – the results that those people consistently strive to fulfill in their work, in their relationships, and in their lives.
We believe that understanding this is a first step for any fitness coach before embarking on the journey to health and wellness with any client. Imagine that you and your client/trainee had deep insight into the why of their behavior and the power of that knowledge for supporting their success on a fitness journey, or any other for that matter? This is what the tool that we are striving to bring to the world.