I always wanted to be an architect and help design bridges, I know exactly when this seed was sown. My family lived in Bristol for about 7 years and we regularly travelled across the Clifton Suspension Bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. This feat of design engineering was astonishing to me and I wanted to know all about how and why it was built and could I create something similar?
Why am I telling you this, well I believe this was my first experience of self-motivation. Do you remember what motivated you this morning when you got up, what made your heart sing, drove you onward and put a smile on your face? My motivation is to get up, walk with the dog then hit my yoga mat and get centered. This I have discovered is because I am intrinsically motivated.
Intrinsic motivation comes from within us, we do something because we enjoy it and do not require rewards or praise. We will therefore happily continue with the tasks, fitness classes, healthy eating, learning to play an instrument or other activities into the future. However there is also extrinsic motivation, where we are seeking a reward or recognition for what we are doing. If we are extrinsically driven the likelihood of succeeding and being happy is lowered drastically. The rewards we gain in the moment, of any form of success, money, or enhanced reputation will wain.
When I looked into how the bridge was built I became even more fascinated. Folklore suggested that a kite was used to carry the first string across the Gorge and once secured, a thicker line was pulled across, then a rope, then chains and lastly iron bolts were used to secure everything. The same principle can be used to connect you to your intrinsic motivations.
You design a kite with a specific goal in mind, something for you without need of praise, give it a colour, cover the kite in keywords and pictures. Then starting from where you are today let the kite go, each day visualise the kite, turn up the colour, see yourself realizing that goal. Every time you see the kite the string becomes thicker and in no time it is rope then become chains, which galvanise your motivation. The bolts are secured and not only have you reached your goal You have also built a bridge from where you were, to where you want to be. This is a difficult thought process but with practice you will be flying several kites at the same time. Try it and imagine of the possibilities!
I am sure you will understand that at the time of my initial self-discovery, the idea of Brunel’s kite took my 7-year-old brain off to the beach and needless to say I never became an architect. I am still a bridge builder and a kite flyer though!
This is the Latin inscription on the Clifton Suspension Bridge:
SUSPENSA VIX VIA
Translation: “A suspended way made with difficulty.”
Sometimes the things we really want, do not come easily and that is why we appreciate them more.
This is a wonderful TED Talk by Daniel Pink on Motivation