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Motivation and Desire

Motivation, Optimism, Poverty and EI

What Motivates a Person?

Innate vs. Learned Motivation

Motivation to help or hurt?

Cleaning My Desk

Motivation, Conformity, EI

Motivation in Bulgaria

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Motivation, Desire - personal writing Feb 14, 2006

I've been thinking about what I want to do. And about what Laura wants to do. I've written that in Peru no one does anything unless they are afraid of not doing it. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Laura doesn't seem to want to do anything. She seems to have no goals, no desires. If I try to talk to her about it, she gets defensive, starts to feel criticized, unworthy of love, afraid I will leave her, afraid she is bringing me down, hurting me etc.

It definitely is draining. But I have been feeling more motivated to feel motivated. I have more desire now to do something more with my life, my time. I have been feeling more determined not to let her bring me down. I want to help her, but I can't control what she does. I have tried too hard probably, to the point of co-dependency. I've needed her too much. I am still afraid of losing her, of her going back to Peru alone. I have such bad memories of that place and things are so much better here in Argentina that I can only imagine going to Peru to get my things, see some people, try to help some people and then get out quickly.

Anyhow, mostly what I wanted to say is that motivation, beyond mere survival motivation, for me anyhow, comes from things I want to do. When I was writing my book in 1996 for example, I really felt motivated. I used to wake up early and get right to work on it. I really felt motivated then. Probably more so than in any other time of my life. I believe this was largely because it was because it was something I chose to do, a goal that I set for myself. Not something assigned to me to be done by a teacher or a boss. I think this is what helped me feel so motivated.


Now it is March 23 and Laura has in fact gone back to Peru. I am feeling more motivated now. I am doing the things that I want to do. I have many projects in mind and have made progress with several of them already. I feel bad that Laura can't be a part of it, but the truth is that I do feel much more motivated now.

I just finished writing two more articles about motivation, by the way. And also, another piece of interesting trivia about motivation, it is about four in the morning. I felt motivated to write tonight. But what I was going to say relates back to the articles I just wrote. I was questioning Goleman's model of EI. I disagree with his inclusion of the ability to motivate oneself as part of EI. (I will talk about this a bit more in another article)

Motivation, Optimism, Poverty and EI

As I was riding my bike through a poor neighborhood in Argentina today I saw a man sitting on the doorstep of his dilapidated house. I wondered why someone like him does not have motivation to clean up his house, his neighborhood. This is a common sight in poor countries. I have seen it in Peru, Ecuador and Indonesia, for example.

I then thought of Daniel Goleman's model of emotional intelligence. He has said that the ability to motivate yourself is a sign of emotional intelligence. So would he say that all the poor people in the world who lack motivation to improve themselves or their community are not emotionally intelligent?

I doubt he really believes this. But I am not sure then, what he does believe. I am not sure why he thinks someone living in poverty would lack motivation. But I can tell you what I think. I think it has next to nothing to do with emotional intelligence. I feel offended by the suggestion that it does. The children I have seen and taught in such poor neighborhoods are more motivated and energetic than their parents. For most of them, their motivation will be slowly killed over the years. There are many reasons for this. I would say one of the prime reasons is fear. Their parents are afraid. So their parents don't take risks. They don't try new things. If they don't try things they won't feel successful. Success breeds success but these children won't see many models of success. And they will probably be told "no" over and over. It is not my intent here to explain the many reasons a child's motivation is killed. Right now I just want to call attention to this problem with Goleman's model.

Another problem with his model is the issue of optimism. This is closely related to the ability to motivate oneself. If a person feels optimistic the chances of success in doing something, they are more likely to feel motivated to do it. If, though, they feel pessimistic, they are unlikely to feel motivated to even attempt it.

Goleman has said that optimism is also a part of emotional intelligence, but if a person has been told "you will never succeed, you are a born loser" all their life, I don't think it would be fair to say this person is not emotionally intelligent if they are not optimistic and highly motivated as an adult.

Martin Seligman has done a lot of research and writing on what he calls "learned optimism and learned pessimism." I highly recommend you check it out if you aren't familiar with his work. As the terms imply, he basically says a child learns to feel optimistic and think optimistically or pessimistically according to how they are raised. This makes obvious sense to me, but he has done a good job of providing scientific support for it.

In conclusion, I suggest we reject Goleman's idea that motivation and optimism are part of one's emotional intelligence. I suggest we look for other reasons why a person may or may not feel motivated or optimistic. I believe we will learn more by this than by simply saying they are or aren't emotionally intelligent.
What Motivates a Person?

I was looking at the pile of things on my bed and thinking that I "should" clean off the bed, but I didn't feel motivated. Then I thought more about Goleman's idea that motivation should be a part of the definition of emotional intelligence. And I thought about how when Laura was here I felt more motivated to keep the room clean and even make the bed. So was I more emotionally intelligent when Laura was here?

When a person is depressed, they obviously don't feel motivated to do things, but is this a temporary lack of emotional intelligence? Or would someone say that an emotionally intelligent person is always motivated and never depressed? In that case, why has nature given us this thing we call "depression"? I believe depression serves a useful purpose. I have written about that before and so have others. It gives us a chance to slow down, to think about what is really important to us, to reflect on what we really need and what we could do differently in the future. I have felt depressed many, many times. Does that mean I am not emotionally intelligent? Yet each time I have come out of it with new ideas and motivation. So does that mean I actually am emotionally intelligent?

If someone listens to me while I am depressed, hugs me, stays with me and believes in me and I then feel better is that because they are emotionally intelligent, or I am?

If I would rather write than clean my room, is it fair to say that I am not emotionally intelligent because I have no motivation to clean my room? If I would rather sit and talk with friends than work in factory or cut the grass is it fair to say I am not emotionally intelligent? Or is the person who chooses to do things like write for the mere sake of expressing themselves, rather than to make money, actually more emotionally intelligent than the person who is motivated to sell the books which someone else has written because the person selling wants to make a lot of money? Who is more emotionally intelligent and how can we be sure?

There are many problems with Goleman definition of EI. This is just one of them.

My final question to ponder is this:

If I am more motivated to criticize Goleman for the way he has defined emotional intelligence, to pursue a better definition of the term and to help suicidal teenagers without getting paid for it than I am to "successful", (i.e. wealthy), what does this really say about my emotional intelligence, if anything at all?
Innate vs. Learned Motivation

As I thought about my own life and what motivates me, I started wondering if perhaps we could say that motivation actually is a part of emotional intelligence, in one sense at least. I thought about this because I wondered if some babies are innately more "motivated" than others. I think the answer is yes. I definitely seem to have more motivation than others who can sleep during the night. There is something that makes me wake up and write, and it is not a desire for money. It is something else which is hard to explain.

But in any case, if some people are innately more "motivated" the next question might be "But what are they motivated to do?"

This is a question that Goleman and others never seem to ask.

For example, it makes a lot of difference to the human species if a person is motivated to either a) start wars or b) search for peaceful solutions.

Could we say that one of these two people is more emotionally intelligent than the other, all else being equal?

I believe we could. I believe emotional intelligence helps us use our emotions to pursue things which aid all of humanity, not just one person, one group or one country's special interests. I believe it is our ability to empathize and to feel our own and others' emotional pain, and to understand it, which motivates us to try to find less painful ways of living with each other.

It makes sense to me that these kinds of abilities are part of our inborn intelligence. Potentials which help us survive as a species and help unite us rather than divide us into factions such as Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Americans, British, French, Russians, Koreans, good or evil. As the world becomes smaller, I believe we are seeing how much in common we have. At least I for one have seen that children around the world start out to have nearly everything in common emotionally. I feel sad to see what happens next, though. How they are programmed into all of the groups mentioned above and how they are taught to judge others who are not in their particular group.

But in any case, it might actually make sense to talk about a person's inner drives in relation to their emotional intelligence. So maybe Goleman does have a clue. But I think he takes the clue and goes off in the wrong direction with it. I think he and most others miss the distinction between inner motivation to do what helps humanity and external motivation such as being motivated by wealth or power. I also think he neglects to consider the effects of a person's environment, as I talk about in the article on emotion, optimism and poverty.

Now even though I have been feeling motivated, I am getting sleepy. It is after four AM now. So I wrap this up and say good night and thanks for listening.


Motivation to help or hurt?

Well in my last article about innate vs learned motivation I said I was getting sleepy, but I wanted to write about one more thing. I just thought of the difference between a person's innate desire to help others or to hurt them. I tend not to think that many humans are born with an innate desire to hurt other humans. In fact, I don't think any humans are. I think they learn to hurt others as a way of survival. But what might be connected to emotional intelligence is the level to which they are driven intrinsically to help others. I have this very strong drive to help others. So maybe that is connected to emotional intelligence, maybe not. I am not sure why I have this drive. Why I keep writing when I am sleepy for example, at four in the morning. If someone wants to say that kind of motivation is part of one's emotional intelligence, I probably won't protest much. But if they say a drive to win a beauty contest, for example, is a sign of emotional intelligence, then I have a problem with that.

So again, if we are going to talk about motivation and ask if it is a sign of EI, I think we have to ask: motivated to do what? and also: Motivated by what?

One more example, if a person is highly motivated by a desire for revenge, can we say that person is emotionally intelligent? If so can we say bin Laden is emotionally intelligent? Or can we way that his emotional intelligence was distorted, misguided?

Or can we say anything at all about his emotional intelligence? I am not really sure, but I feel most comfortable with saying that someone like bin Laden was probably emotionally intelligent as a baby, but was a product of his environment and learned to respond to his feelings of pain with what we have seen him capable of doing.

Now I really can't type any more. Maybe I am not very emotionally intelligent because my motivation has run out. Or maybe I am just sleepy.

Who knows? Does Dan Goleman, Reuven BarOn, Steven Stein, David Caruso, Jack Mayer, Peter Salovey, Geetu xxx? -- I throw her in because she recently sent me a letter which I feel a bit resentful about. I may write about that later. But I really am sleepy now. So I will try to get away from this computer!!!

Feeling Motivated - April 6

This morning I woke up feeling motivated. I started thinking about all of the possibilities here in Salta. Last night I met the owner of a hostal called Prisamata, which means, roughly, Speed kills. He is just 28 and is managing 3 businesses! And has no degree or "titulo" as they say in Spanish. There is a chance he and I will do some things together. A chance to teach English, help teens, meet international travelers (and have 24 hour Internet again!).

So again I am wondering, did my emotional intelligence go up during the night? Or is Dan Goleman mistaken?


Steve Hein
April 6 , 2006
Salta, Argentina

Motivation continued...(not finished)

It is now a little after five. I just woke up. Here are things I feel motivated to write about:

Gheetu - help her? or her hurt? function of resentment? or emotional intelligence? or modeling?

Hosting service - I can't punish them as much as they can punish me. If they gave me the power to shut down their site if they didn't respond in twenty for hours, then I would feel a bit more equal.

I felt extorted. They could have said "Five hundred" dollars.

Would you charge someone for your own companies poor customer service?

Ask them what would help them feel more satisfied.

Feel motivated to write about customer service

Sept 2 2012

Was feeling discouraged, unmotivated. Started thinking of things which would help me feel more motivated.

- Reconnecting with some people like Jan Hunt, Jordan Riak, Jerry Mints,

- Contacting some NVC people (to ask them about their hosting service and later to exchange ideas)

- Helping P and the people we care about (giving them ideas for self-employment one day)

- Making contacts with people in unschooling, attachment parenting, thomas gordon, and other areas we have in common. Sort of like our target markets.