Friday, January 23, 2009

Motivation Vs Inspiration


Often people confuse between motivation and inspiration. This article focuses on the basic differences between the both. Various merits of motivation and the types are explained in detail. It addresses various motivational tips people can learn and follow easily thereby getting equipped and energized.

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KEY WORDS: Introduction, Motivation and Inspiration, Merits of Motivation, Types of Motivation, Motivational Theories, and Tips for Motivation & Conclusion.


"Man's greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time he falls", Oliver Goldsmith.

He failed in business at 21 years. He was defeated in elections at 22 years. Again he failed in business at 24 years. He lost his wife at 26 years and had nervous breakdown at 27 years. He lost senatorial elections at 45 years, lost elections as Vice-President at 47 and again at 49 years. Ultimately he became the President of USA at 52 years. By this time, it is obvious to every reader that he was none other than Abraham Lincoln. What do we call his spirit? Can we call it as motivation? Certainly, Yes. Success is product of successive setbacks. The word motivation is coined from the Latin word "movere", which means to move. Motivation can be defined as an internal drive that activates behavior and gives it direction. To put it succinctly, the ability to move from one failure to another without losing energy and enthusiasm is known as motivation. If someone achieves success after a success without any setbacks, can we call it as motivation? Of course, Not. By the way, let us know the definition of motivation from Wikipedia also.

Motivation (Wikipedia) is the reason or reasons for engaging in a particular behavior, especially human behavior as studied in psychology and neuropsychology. These reasons may include basic needs such as food or a desired object, hobbies, goal, state of being, or ideal. The motivation for a behavior may also be attributed to less-apparent reasons such as altruism or morality. According to Geen, [#] motivation refers to the initiation, direction, intensity and persistence of human behavior.


Often people confuse between motivation and inspiration. Motivation comes out of external influence that encourages you either with ideas or with individuals. While in inspiration, it comes from with in and with internal influence. Inspiration results in a feeling of excitement and well being, and a desire to get into action instantly without any prompting while motivation needs prompting and encouragement by others.

Motivation comes from the word ‘motivate’ that means ‘a stir to action’. On the other hand, inspiration comes from the word ‘inspire’ that means ‘to fill with noble or reverent emotion’. In a nutshell, motivation stirs you while the inspiration fills you. And that is one of the major differences between the both. In many ways inspiration is bigger than motivation and, in fact, inspiration is more enduring and everlasting. You become inspired and you get motivated and that makes the subtle difference between the both. Many a time success is the product of both inspiration and motivation.


1. Motivation helps in shaping ones personality.
2. It helps individuals grow personally and professionally.
3. Helps in building positive and healthy circle of friends.
4. Helps in dreaming big and achieving big by removing negative thoughts.
5. Helps in achieving goals and objectives and makes life more meaningful.
6. Builds the bricks towards positive attitude.
7. Enhances self-confidence and self-esteem.
8. Makes an ordinary man as an extra-ordinary man.


Basically there are three types of motivation such as internal motivation, external motivation and incentive motivation. In internal motivation, the individual gets motivated of his own by various ways and means without expecting any external support. In this scenario the individual has extraordinary will power and he constantly and continuously motivates himself whenever he is faced with failures and then gradually rises like Phoenix. It can also be called as self-motivation. It is the hallmark of great leaders. In the case of external motivation, the individual is motivated by means of external influences by way of inspirational songs, slogans, pictures and persons. When the individual is motivated due to monetary reasons, which usually happens in the corporate world, it is known as incentive or monetary motivation. Both internal and external motivation does not involve monetary aspects and hence belong to non-financial motivation. In this context, let us know what is the basic need every human being wants and craves by going with various motivational theories.


According to psychologist Abraham Maslow, every human being has certain needs to fulfill. The first and foremost need is the physiological need without which man cannot survive and these are the basic needs for all. After fulfilling this need man craves for security needs. That is, he wants to protect and secure himself from any threats towards his life. After meeting the second level of needs, he is eager to have affiliation needs. He needs to belong to his own group of people and feels like to get associated. Aristotle aptly said, 'Man is a social animal’. He cannot live alone and he always wants to move with his group'. He would not only like to be affiliated but also like to be accepted with in the group. And he would try to flex and adapt to fulfill this need. The fourth one is self-esteem needs. And the fifth one is the self-actualization needs where by after having all the basic needs he wants to prove himself of a superior and like to excel in life. Every man after reaching one need gradually graduates to the next higher level of the need in the hierarchy and that is why Abraham Maslow called it as 'hierarchy of needs'. This is why it is suitably said that man can't live by bread alone.

On the contrary to this theory, Vroom hypothesized that to motivate a person there is a need to link effort, performance and motivation. He proposes three variables to account for this, which he calls Valence, Expectancy and Instrumentality. Having known what one needs and what is motivation it is relevant to briefly explain the tools and techniques to motivate.


• Always surround with healthy and positive people. The positive vibes will have tremendous effect. As every person has positive and negative thoughts, when one is faced with negative emotions, feelings, which arise out of successive setbacks, it is the healthy ambience that will bring up the person from falling into abyss.
• Listen to music, which is encouraging and soothing.
• If required, relax your mind by giving a break.
• Daily spend some time for meditation and stay in a serene place. Don’t let noise disturb your mind. You will discover many things in life and that keeps motivating you.
• Reward yourself whenever you achieved something by holidaying or partying or celebrating with your kith and kin.
• At times, positive self-talk can trigger motivation.
• Keep slogans, which are inspirational in your home and office. These days we find slogans in corporate offices, which will constantly raise the spirits. The author has the poster of Swami Vivekananda with a slogan of 'Arise, Awake! And stop not till the goal is reached' in his bedroom. He reads after waking up and before going to bed. Slogans make magic and which one reads regularly twice it will go to the subconscious mind it will constantly keep the person on toes. Even if the person goes out of track due to failures or setbacks the subconscious mind alerts and puts him on the right track and on the fast track.
• Goal setting is a wonderful tool, which encourages the individual to stay focused. Goals will keep the individual to move ahead despite odds. Dividing the goals into short term and long term is essential. Even if there is failure in short-term goals, the long-term goals will overtake the setbacks in short term goals. Make sure that the goals set are specific, measurable, achievable, reachable and timed. Once goals are set there should not be any doubt and try to take constructive and positive feedback. Focus on the areas and activities where you are confident and comfortable as it gets the going easily. Besides, it provides you adequate momentum to move forward. If the goal happens to be big then break the same into small pieces and start executing one by one.
• Take a role model who is ideal and symbol of values, principles and success and start dreaming about him.
• Visualizing success as though you had reached your goals will boost your energy levels.
• Meditation will motivate and bring fresh levels of enthusiasm. You can draw more mental powers by way of meditation.
• Recall your past achievements and ruminate for sometime.
• Read the biographies and autobiographies of great leaders across the world.
• Maintain a separate diary for collecting motivational quotations and read it whenever you are upset it will energize you instantly.
• Faith is the force of your life. Have strong faith in your abilities and capabilities.
• Believe in yourself and know that every dog has its own day.
• Lend your hand to the unsuccessful persons and it will bounce back automatically because good begets good.
• Try to find out what motivates you. Whether it is love, money, success, comforts, power, prestige and then pursue it.
• Never stick to one place as it may lead to regimented thoughts and ideas. Try to change, as every change will lead to better opportunities. And of course, opportunities stimulate and motivate.
• Always put your imagination at work.
• Thing big and break your mental barriers.
• Do know that failure is only a comma but not a full stop.


Motivation is built on the bricks of optimism and confidence. These two fundamental factors are the driving forces towards higher motivational levels. It is necessary to get motivated all the times so as to succeed in personal, professional and social life. It is equally more important to motivate so as to motivate others. Problems are part of life and each problem will teach many lessons and makes an individual tough. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. It is a well-admitted fact that a smooth sea never makes a skillful mariner. And success touches to the toes of skillful mariners only.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Prof. M.S. Rao

I appreciate your dare to choose the topic of Motivation vs Inspiration. The way of interpretation is excellent. But I feel you are slightly failed in explanation of difference between Motivation and Inspiration. A person can be inspired by his/her mother and father because of his/her childhood experience with them and the same person can be motivated by money because of his/her current situations. So, Inspiration is sub-conscious and last for till end of the life because of your standard interest. Motivation is conscious last for short period because of your custom desires. For example, we will be inspired by our role models and we will be motivated by our bosses.