Richard G. Petty, MD


“Motivation is everything. You can do the work of two people, but you can’t be two people. Instead, you have to inspire the next guy down the line and get him to inspire his people."

–Lee Iacocca (American Businessman and Former CEO of Chrysler, 1924-)

I am always on the look out for tips or techniques that might help my clients and students. But sometimes I come away scratching my head, after reading about some “new” technique or hearing someone discussing a life principle or healing method. So often I wonder why the author or he speaker hasn’t checked his or her facts.

I’ve recently seen an entire self-help system based upon a discredited psychological model of a disease. There’s a book and a website and loads of glowing testimonials. Maybe the methods work, and maybe they don’t. But if the basic principle is wrong, it’s impossible to apply the methods in a new situation. One of the fruits of the Chinese Cultural Revolution was the creation of the “barefoot doctors” – peasants who provided basic medical care throughout much of rural China. They had little training but had a set of manuals that told them exactly what to do with most common ailments. And when they came up against something that was in the book, they were fine. But because the practitioners had not been trained on the basic principles of anatomy, physiology or subtle systems, the system had no flexibility. If you had a chest infection, and the same signs and symptoms that they had in the book, then everything was fine. But if you had symptoms or an illness not in the book, you were out of luck.

In recent years a lot of people have gone back to talking about pleasure and pain as the principle motivators of human behavior. Of course, these two factors play some part in our behavior. And the idea that they are the key drivers is simple, easy to understand and easy to explain.

And dead wrong.

Eighty-six years ago Sigmund Freud published a short essay entitled Jenseits des Lustprinzips, which was eventually translated into English as Beyond the Pleasure Principle. All those years ago he had already come to the conclusion that there were other equally important drives, and that to try and reduce human motivation and behavior to pleasure and pain is very misleading.

We have a very large scientific literature on some of the factors involved in human motivation, how to achieve change and improvement in our lives and how to motivate others. Let me give just a few of the more important ones that cannot be reduced to pain and pleasure, and for which we have good empirical data:
1.    Clarity of vision
2.    Encouragement
3.    Personal engagement
4.    Recognition
5.    Pride
6.    Free flow of energy and information
7.    Appropriate reward systems (money is often not the best one!)
8.    Personal and group expectations
9.    Creating shared goals
10.    Transpersonal motivation: Inspiration and leaving a legacy

There are others, like emotional congruence, that can, perhaps, be reduced to the pleasure/pain axis. But it is the last of these that I am going to spend more time on in the near future: the differences between motivation and inspiration, and how combining the two together may have an important impact upon your life.

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About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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