Motivation (discussion)

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English Corner--TEFL Discussion Guide

Sister-pages:   Home Up Success (discussion) Mom's Day (discussion) Motivation (discussion)

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Topic: Motivation

Prepared by Michael Krigline, MA (2007)

 Teachers/discussion leaders: see "How to use these discussion guides" on the index page (click "up").

.1. How would YOU define motivation?

Motivation (mte-vâ¹shen)def: that which provides an incentive or moves us to action; what pushes us forward.


.2. What are the primary sources of motivation?

INTRINSIC (motivation from within oneself)

      I have come to the conclusion that my subjective account of my motivation is largely mythical on almost all occasions. I don't know why I do things. J. B. S. Haldane

      The first glance at History convinces us that the actions of men proceed from their needs, their passions, their characters and talents. Georg Hegel (1770–1831), German philosopher.

      Seeing yourself as you want to be is the key to personal growth. Anonymous

      The only lifelong, reliable motivations are those that come from within, and one of the strongest of those is the joy and pride that grow from knowing that you've just done something as well as you can do it. Lloyd Dobens and Clare Crawford-Mason, Authors

      Live out of your imagination, not your history. Stephen Covey (American Author)

      What we obtain too cheap we esteem too little; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Thomas Paine (US Founding Father)


EXTRINSIC (when other people help motivate us)

      Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends whom we choose. Chinese Proverb

      If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. Issac Newton

      The only motivation I need to write a musical is a phone call from the producer. Cole Porter  

      The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. Walter Bagehot (1826 – 1877)

      Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve. Martin Luther King, Jr.

      There’s an enduring American compulsion to be on the side of the angels. Expediency alone has never been an adequate American reason for doing anything. When actions are judged, they go before the bar of God, where Mom and the Flag closely flank His presence. Jonathan Raban (b. 1942), British author, critic.

      Applause is the spur of noble minds, the end and aim of weak ones. C. C. Colton (1780–1832), English author, clergyman.


.3. What can distract us from what motivates us?

      To receive applause for works which do not demand all our powers hinders our advance towards a perfecting of our spirit. It usually means that thereafter we stand still. G. C. Lichtenberg (1742–99), German physicist, philosopher.

      A dog in a kennel barks at his fleas; a dog hunting does not notice them. Chinese Proverb

      A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. Unknown

      Heaven cannot help those who do not seize opportunities. Chinese Proverb

      I would rather fail in a cause that will ultimately triumph than to triumph in a cause that will ultimately fail. Woodrow Wilson (US President, 1913-1921)

      The only failure a man ought to fear is failure in cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best. George Eliot (1819–80), English novelist, editor.

      The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything. Edward Phelps

      Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of. Benjamin Franklin (US Founding Father)

      Life's Tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late. Benjamin Franklin (US Founding Father)

.4. Are all people motivated in the same way? Why is this important?

      Every woman is supposed to have the same set of motives, or else to be a monster. George Eliot (1819–80), English novelist, editor; speaking of society’s expectations of women.

      From his cradle to his grave a man never does a single thing which has any FIRST AND FOREMOST object but one— to secure peace of mind, spiritual comfort, for HIMSELF. Mark Twain (1835–1910), U.S. author/humorist

      I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965, German physician, theologian, musician; 1952 Nobel Peace Prize)


.5. How do we motivate others?

      Not the cry, but the flight of the wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow. Chinese Proverb

      . . . most of the problems of education are problems of motivation, as teachers try to rush things. They talk of geography before the child knows the way around his own backyard. They teach history before the child understands anything about adult motivation. . . . It would be far better to let questions arise naturally. . . . When a child is self-motivated, the teacher cannot keep him from learning. C. John Sommerville, Author

      In these years we are witnessing the gigantic spectacle of innumerable human lives wandering about lost in their own labyrinths, through not having anything to which to give themselves. José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955), Spanish essayist, philosopher.


.6. Final Thoughts:

      Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. Lou Holtz (US Football coach)

      No one, who has lived even for a fleeting moment for something other than life in its conventional sense (and has experienced the exaltation that this feeling produces), can then renounce his new freedom so easily. André Breton (1896–1966), French artist.

      Superstars strive for approbation; heroes walk alone. Superstars crave consensus; heroes define themselves by the judgment of a future that they see it as their task to bring about. Superstars seek success in a technique for eliciting support; heroes pursue success as the outgrowth of inner values. Henry A. Kissinger (b. 1923), U.S. politician, Secretary of State; in referring to W. Churchill as the “quintessential hero.”       (Do you want to be a superstar, a hero, or something else?)

      When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced; live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. Unknown


Sources include:;;; /;; Columbia (U Press) Dict. of Quotations


Note: A quote's original source is not always known, and authenticity has not been verified.

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