Don’t Have FoMo, Find Your ToMo

pre-remote year Dec 03, 2018

Why do you do the work that you do? What motivates you to do it? And what conditions lead you to perform at your best?

As a self-development junkie, I’m always seeking answers to questions like these for myself. And given that my work as Director of Talent Development at IAC (Ask Applications and The Mosaic Group) is to help develop others, I like to share my research with people who could also benefit from this knowledge and so no one experiences FoMo (Fear of Missing Out).

I’ve read a lot of books on the topic of motivation but there is one that lays out a framework that really resonated with me when I first read it in 2017. 

The book is called Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation by Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor who also run the consulting firm called Vega Factor.

After years of research with hundreds of organizations and thousands of people, Doshi and McGregor narrowed down what positively and directly motivates us to perform at our best: play, purpose, and potential.

Play is not the ping pong game in the company break room. It is when you are motivated by the work itself. You work because you enjoy it. Play is your curiosity, your desire to experiment and explore challenging problems. An engineer at play enjoys learning new coding languages and problem solving on how to make a better product.

Purpose is when the direct outcome of the work aligns with your identity. You work because you value the work’s impact on your customers, your community, and the lives of others. For example, an engineer driven by purpose, identifies with the mission of making people’s lives easier in just a few clicks.

Potential is when you benefit from the outcome of the work. In other words, the work helps you to develop a new skill or to advance your career. For example, an engineer is motivated by potential when she is learning the skills she needs to eventually create her own app or to become CTO of her company.

Since these three motives are directly connected to the work itself, they are referred to in the book as direct motives. When they are present, they improve individual performance significantly.

There are also three indirect motives that may come to mind when thinking about motivation. The indirect motives are emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia. I recommend reading the book for more details on those.

When you can maximize the direct motives of play, purpose, and potential and minimize the indirect motives of emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia, that is what this book refers to as creating Total Motivation (ToMo).

There is a lot that organizations can do to help increase the ToMo of their employees and that is primarily the focus on this book. I, however, want to empower you to take the reins on increasing your own total motivation.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What does play mean to me? What part of my work do I really enjoy? What problems do I love solving? If I had more play in my job, what would I be doing more of? Have I raised my hand to get more involved in the work I love or asked my manager for opportunities related to work that excites me?
  2. What does purpose mean to me? Do I understand the impact of my work? Do I have the context I need to feel like my work has meaning? If I don’t have the context, have I asked for it?
  3. And, finally, potential. Is this work helping me to learn the skills to develop my career? What do I want my next step to be? Have I told my manager? Can they help me develop those skills or identify the experiences I need to get there?

My challenge to you is to answer those questions for yourself and then start making a list of actions you can take to enhance your sense of play, purpose, and potential. Share this list with your manager, mentor, coworkers, family and friends that can help you brainstorm how to bring your list to life.  It could be a win-win for you and your organization or loved ones.

Higher motivation and fulfillment for you is going to lead to higher performance and company goal achievement. Don't have FOMO, find your TOMO!

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