What is Core Motivation?

ActivPrayer uses the activMAP to help client’s tap into their core motivational drives so that it’s they who are driving their own fitness – not us. To do this, we use a process of discovery and identification of each client’s motivational drives using a quick assessment called MCORE, a narrative-based assessment backed by 50 years of science and designed to help us understand the heart of our clients.

Core Motivation is a unique, innate, and enduring behavioral drive orienting the person to achieve a distinct pattern of results.

It’s easy to understand if we break it down by the first three descriptor words in the definition.


  • Analogous to the human fingerprint of DNA structure. In other words, it’s not the kind of uniqueness developed of time through self-creative acts or societal influences, but rather that kind of uniqueness that is structural and that is present in the person from the beginning of their life. As the person grows, that structure remains present.
  • It’s the “soul’s code”, to borrow a term from James Hillman.
  • There is a distinctive pattern of uniqueness that is present in the person from the first days of their life. If you have multiple children and pay attention closely to each of your children’s core motivations, you can see it even in the first year of life.


  • Not something introduced by environmental factors
  • Already present when the person comes into the world


  • Not subject to fundamental change
  • Establishes parameters for growth – of course we believe that people grow and develop, and the choices that they make are a huge factor in this development. But in over 50 years and 80,000+ interviews of the MCORE, what has been found is that the growth unfolds largely within those core motivations that are present even as children
  • What persons do motivationally as small children they do in larger measure as adults

Your core motivation is something that is an irresistible, insatiable, and enduring drive that you’ve had working in your life – consciously or unconsciously – since the time you were a small child. The “marks” of that core motivation are everywhere: one of the exercises that we ask people to do prior to taking the actual assessment is to think back to some achievement in their life – from any part of life, whether sports, fitness, play, work, school, family, or any other – in which they believed their performed well and also found a deep sense of satisfaction in doing it.

Once we know those stories, which are the foundation of the activMAP, the process works to help draw out and articulate exactly what those core motivations are so that you can apply them to every part of your life – and, in a particular way, to your active life.

This is where life meets fitness.

Luke Burgis
Luke Burgis, CSCS, is a Co-Founder of ActivPrayer, an architect of the activMAP, and a sports and performance coach that has worked in the nutrition and fitness industries for over 10 years. He graduated with a B.S. in Finance from NYU and also completed an S.T.B. in Sacred Theology at a university in Italy where he worked closely with the Vatican's office of Church & Sport about the role of sports and fitness in renewing cultures.

He is a well-known public speaker on the topics of entrepreneurship, fitness, and faith.
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