Volition & Motivation: The Gap between Doing and Knowing

Most of us feel that attending a motivational program will help people achieve the individual and organizational goals. Kurt Lewin and Narziss Ach have made pioneering contribution in the field of motivation. Lewin was known for his field theory as well freezing and unfreezing  concepts in changing the human behaviour and believed that motivation and volition are the same. Narziss Ach  treated motivation and volition differently.

Volition happens at three levels:

  1. Intention Formation: At this level there is a vague feeling that a person may not be happy with his daily routine. He wants to set higher target for himself or for his team. It can be even a plan for new business venture. The process happens more at a cognitive/thinking level.
  2. Crossing the Rubicon: There is a river called Rubicon which separates the northern part of Italy from Cisalpine Gaul. The Roman senate had ordered Julius Caesar, the Governor of Rome not to cross the Rubicon and return back to Rome. Caesar did not pay heed and led his 13th legion across the river in 49 BC which ultimately precipitated in the Roman Civil war. Julius Caesar while crossing the river said, ”alea iacta est” meaning the die is cast. Today the idiom crossing the Rubicon means  reaching a point by burning the bridges behind. One has cut off from the past completely and the only road is ahead.
  3. Protecting the Intention: The road ahead is difficult and full of obstacles and distractions. Only a person with high level of discipline will be able to reach his destination. Odyssey is an epic Greek classic poem written in 24 books by Homer. It is the story of Odysseus, the king of Ithaca who wanders for 10 years trying to get home after the Trojan war. While sailing in the deep seas, the crew had to face a number of hurdles. The legend says that the ship used to be frequented by sirens- nymphs, hybrid of pretty ladies in the form of birds. The sirens used to charm the sailors by singing mesmerizing melodies thus enticing them in jumping  into the sea. Most of the ships thus could never make it to their destination. Odysseus was known for his wisdom, courage and endurance. To survive and overcome such fatal attraction Odysseus put wax in the sailors’ ears and tied himself to the mast of the ship.

For the managers,   such sirens are in the form of  What’s app, facebook and other distractions which do not allow them to focus on anything.  It is like a taking a call between what’s right for me and what’s right in front of me.

A 20+ year something smart gentleman  approached Naseeruddin Shah, and asked him for his guidance in becoming a successful actor in Bollywood. Naseeruddin asked the man how much time is he willing to give for his dream. The young man replied, “ maximum 3 years, if it does not click,  I shall go back and join my father’s export business in Delhi.” Naseeruddin told him, “Young man, don’t waste your time, you better join your father’s business.”  That is motivation, there are exit routes.

Dashrath Manjhi was a resident of Gehlore village of Gaya district in Bihar. He lost his wife    because of the injury she sustained while fetching water for him through a narrow crevice that separated the village from the farm. She could not be taken to the hospital because once again the mountain came in the way. Manjhi decided to construct a tunnel through the mountain. Manjhi built a tunnel 360 feet long and 30 feet wide all alone with his hammer and chisel which took him 22 long years against all odds. That is volition, the only road is ahead!

Rajan Parulekar|rajan@paradigm-info.com

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