The Source Of Motivation

206475_megaphonesWe’ve all seen them. People who are able to motivate large numbers of people to do things as a team. Great coaches, teachers, politicians, and even dictators. All of them are great motivators.

Until recently, I would have agreed with that statement.

I sat down this week and began reading through Bandmasters Review, the official publication of the Texas Bandmasters Association. The first article is entitled “The Real Key to True Leadership” by Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser.

In the article, Dr. Lautzenheiser argues that motivation can only come intrinsically. He refers to any attempts at extrinsic motivation as merely manipulation. Powerful stuff there.

So what is the source of motivation? Etymologically, the word “motivation” comes from the Latin word motere. This is the verb “to move.” So at its very root, motivation comes from moving. I know for certain that after my band won first place at our festival this spring, motivation didn’t seem like a problem at all.

The only absolute certainty of any motivation in our control — ourselves! That is a huge responsibility we often overlook in our daily teaching techniques. The skeptics can argue all they want, but history clearly shows it is always the leader, or teacher, who is responsible for the level of success of the groups; herein lies the real key to successful motivation.

So when we find groups that are unmotivated, too often we treat the symptom and complain about the kids. Instead, we need to look in the mirror and find out why they are not being led well. Ouch.

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

1 Comment on The Source Of Motivation

  1. Your quote about “the leader, or teacher, who is responsible for the level of success of the groups” makes me think that perhaps students (followers) become motivated (moved to action) when we reveal something great in them. History’s great motivators, both good and evil, had the ability to make their people believe that a greater world was within their grasp.

    Good insight as always, Joel!

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