Edition number 12; dateline 31 October 2008
Searching for motivation
As I write this, I am sitting at the side of the Albert Dock looking back towards Excel, the O2 complex and Canary Wharf on a glorious October day. I am about to go inside and into a meeting and my thoughts have turned to motivation. What motivation do I have to go to the meeting? What motivates me to go for a run or a swim or a cycle ride? What motivates me to do one piece of work before another? What is motivating me to write this rather than just sit and watch the world go by?
The editor threatening me with death sometimes has the desired motivating effect but the best motivation usually comes from inside me and is affected by what is going on around me at the time. I am motivated to go for a run along the river because I find the water fascinating and comforting as it runs alongside me. I am motivated to write Tales of a Tub because I enjoy pouring out my ramblings to you and I enjoy getting feedback from my reader. I am motivated to do the overly bureaucratic paperwork for a coach education course because I love delivering them and seeing the achievement of the participants.
I would guess that in leisure we are very much about providing the environment which both motivates people to do things outside of their daily grind and gives them the space to become motivated about coming back.
What a responsibility! We are very often entrusted with people’s dreams or at very least their precious time when they have the opportunity to escape for a short while. We might be helping them to escape poor health, the torture of a job they don’t like, giving them a break from the family or, at the other end of scale, the chance to achieve something that isn’t possible in the rest of their life. We may also be offering opportunities for people to get a career or to change career through volunteering opportunities and, in comparison to many industries, easy access to short courses and the first levels of professional qualifications.
In sport we have a strong emphasis on the performer, their motivations and needs and I wouldn’t want us to lose that focus. However, sport could perhaps learn from its cultural bed-fellows in the arts where I perceive a strong emphasis on the audience and the supporters as well as on the needs of the artists. In most of the arts unless there is somebody else to appreciate the results the artist is left without the motivation to produce their art. After all what is the point of performing a play to an empty auditorium? What relevance is a painting hanging in a bank vault where nobody ever goes?
Some of our sports do encourage wider participation in their activities by encouraging spectators and the obvious ones are football, rugby and increasingly cricket. But would it harm us all to look at the motivations of all the people that could be involved in our activities? As things stand e ven in the larger sports the spectators are often the forgotten element. We should not forget that dreams are just as important to them as they are to the performers ; the result is just as much part of the supporter’s life as it is of the player’s . You only have to meet a true lower-league football supporter to feel the passion.
I am no psychologist. If I were, no doubt I could give you all the proper, well-researched and proven theories from Maslow upwards. But I am sure there is a cause and effect – we are internally motivated to use our non-work time in certain ways – but the context has to be right. So perhaps in leisure we are missing a trick by not examining our role in providing environments where people can more easily build on their own self- motivation. Yes, we know that we need to provide certain things for people but within that provision can we perhaps be more aware of our responsibilities in proving the right atmosphere for all to be motivated whether they are a performer, a supporter or one of the backroom team?
Kay Adkins is an executive board member of a county sport partnership, chair of a CSN and a member of the interim board of the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure. Kay is also managing director of KAM Ltd, which offers a range of support services in the sport and leisure industry working in volunteer/workforce development and facility development.
Tales from a tub
the last word in contemplative comment on the leisure industry
“In sport we have a strong emphasis on the performer, their motivations and needs and I wouldn’t want us to lose that focus. However, sport could perhaps learn from its cultural bed-fellows in the arts where I perceive a strong emphasis on the audience and the supporters as well as on the needs of the artists.”