I’ll be honest with you. I have ZERO motivation to write this blog. But, as we learned in the previous blog, motivation is not the antecedent to action, but a result of action. When I write, I develop insights from much research that, before writing, were simply scattered in my brain. As I see the product come together nicely and coherently, I find motivation to continue this series. Additionally, as I apply the lessons I share in here and see positive results in my own life, I am motivated to continue to dig, refine, and deliver. Recall the diagram.

Understanding motivation

There are two types of motivation—positive and negative. As the terms suggest, positive motivation is constructive while negative motivation is destructive. Positive motivation involves running for something, while negative motivation involves running from something.

Positive motivation is energizing, whereas negative motivation is exhausting. There are numerous accounts of outlaws, who spent years fleeing the authorities, sharing a common feeling once apprehended—relief.

Faith versus fear

Positive motivation is rooted in faith while negative motivation is rooted in fear. You see, faith is not religion. Faith is just that—faith. It can be employed in a number of arenas.

I met an ardent atheist on a flight who was so anti-religion that he denied the very existence of faith as well. He said, “There’s no such thing as faith, only hope.” I simply asked him why he would willingly fly 36,000 feet above the ground, in a plane going over 500 mph, sitting between two complete strangers, eating food he didn’t see packaged, checking a bag in one state while expecting it to reappear in another, and paying for all of it. He chuckled, and I said, “I hope you’re wrong.”

Important: We have to honestly confront fear before faith can be allowed to grow. Because fear is such a persuasive force, it is important to surround ourselves with people and music that encourages us to confront your fears. Zach Williams co-wrote and sings one of my favorites songs of late called Fear is a Liar. The chorus reads as follows…

Fear he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar
Francesca Battistelli also co-wrote and sings one that I find incredibly well-written called The Breakup Song. Its chorus reads as follows…
Fear, you don’t own me
There ain’t no room in this story
And I ain’t got time for you
Telling me what I’m not
Like you know me well guess what?
I know who I am
I know I’m strong
And I am free
Got my own identity
So fear, you will never be welcome here

What is an example of each?

Again, positive motivation is rooted in faith while negative motivation is rooted in fear. When others simply listening to us talk, watch us interact, and read our body language, they can read whether our motivation is positive or negative. Let’s look at a customer service example:

Positively motivated service—a person who genuinely serves another expresses faith that the kindness will be returned in a tip, a smile, a greeting or a simple, “Thank you.”

Negatively motivated service—a person fearful of being rejected will likely render services begrudgingly

Recently, I passed through a little town called Soddy-Daisy; and yes, it is a real place. I had just completed a 5-mile run through the town and was describing the inconvenience of running without sidewalks to a friend that is a local in the town. He told me that when they paved the streets the city counsel had considered sidewalks, but thought sidewalks would encourage vagabonds to wonder the town, so they decided against them. Imagine that! They denied the good citizens of Soddy-Daisy the health benefits and safety provided by sidewalks out of fear that vagabonds would also use them. As stated earlier, this kind of mentality is worthless. It demonstrates a fixed mindset, not a growth mindset.

Using any of the above examples, we can see that fear is a result of negative attitudes dominating decisions and demeanor. These negative attitudes are a result of negative thoughts. So, how do we spot these negative thoughts in their early stages? So glad you asked! To spot them, we first need to understand them. That is where the Motivation Continuum can help us.

Motivation Continuum

Earlier, we discussed the polarity of motivation. On one end, we have positive motivation, and on the other end, we have negative motivation. There are some very interesting attributes within these polarities.

Why do I call it a “continuum?” A continuum is defined as follows:

a continuous sequence in which adjacent elements are not perceptibly different from each other, although the extremes are quite distinct


There are three distinct characteristics of the Motivation Continuum that identify it and make it useful as a tool in understanding positive and negative motivation.

1. Relativity

As you can see above, it is difficult to quantify motivation. Sure you could put hash marks up there and assign numbers to them, but what would these values really mean? How would you calibrate them and to what standard? Rudeness and resentment may vary little in degree, but they are light years from nobility and kindness.

2. Bias

Did you catch that “not perceptibly different from each other” part? If we are angry, are we going to notice our insecurities? What about our pride? Are we able to deduce that our anger possibly results from grief? Equally, when we feel joyful, we might also feel motivated and not even recognize it.

3. Polarity

In the same that a positive electrical charge cannot simultaneously be a negative electrical charge, we cannot act based on both a negative motivation and a positive motivation. At any given moment, our motivations are situation on one side or the other, and never bridging the divide.

Sustain or change

The very best outcome we can achieve if we are negatively motivated is sustainment. However, we can only sustain for so long. Eventually, we begin to move in the negative direction. Real [positive] change can only occur when positively motivated. This applies to work, addictions, relationships, attitudes, hobbies, and any other discipline you can imagine. So how do we stay out of the negative side? Keep reading…

Sacrificing seductive mindsets

Below are three negative mindsets that draw us in and keep us negatively motivated. Remember, negative mindsets will arrest your growth momentum. Identifying them early and opting out of them immediately will minimize momentum loss.

1. Victimhood

When we find ourselves blaming others, regardless of the circumstance, we are not thinking of how we can improve the situation.

Sacrifice victimhood. Replace it with resilience. Resilience is the quality that allows us to be knocked down by life and come back at learning from the past. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome us and drain our resolve, we take ownership of the outcome, and find a way to rise.

2. Dependence

Our natural state enjoys stability often available via dependence. Take welfare as an example. If a person is content receiving free money and healthcare without having to produce anything for it, their nature will fight anything that may disrupt this dependence, even to their own detriment or that of others.

Sacrifice dependence. Replace it with initiative. Initiative is the ability to assess and initiate things independently. When we exercise initiative, we positivity into our mind, body, and spirit. That’s right! Dopamine is released in the brain, exercise strengthens the body, and hope feeds the spirit.

3. Simple Mindedness

Have you ever gotten frustrated because someone was answering a simple question with a story? Me too. Instead of listening to their story to find insights or clues, simple mindedness urges us to keep our brain off and wait for the answer. Unfortunately, simple mindedness can lead to bigotry, disrespect, selfishness, pride, betrayal, and hostility.

Sacrifice simple mindedness. Replace it with critical thinking. Life is full of insights. Where we work, how we work, how we process information, how we treat people, where we struggle in self-development…all of these could be improved using insights developed through critical thinking. Critical thinking can aid in empathy, respect, selflessness, humility, loyalty, and amiability. Better yet, critical thinking will apply the principles covered in this blog series.


Today, we wrapped up the mental portion of our three-part blog series on self-development. Using the Motivation Continuum, we took an in-depth view of motivation, its characteristics, and its impact. In the next blog, I will summarize the top 10 insights we can take away from this portion of our blog series. You won’t want to miss it.


If this is relevant in your life, it will probably be relevant in someone else’s life. So, don’t prevent others from benefiting from this blog. LIKE it and SHARE it with your co-workers, family, and friends. Post it on your Facebook or LinkedIn. Help someone today!

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