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INTRINSIC MOTIVATION IN A NATIONAL CONTEXT

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Guiding questions:
1. What spurs a nation or a people to attain heights of development?
2. Is it a collective that is the main driver or a leader with “Intrinsic Motivation”

©Simon Chilembo 2017

©Simon Chilembo 2018

NOTE
The article below is motivated by Mr Fisho Mwale. It arose from a Facebook interaction yesterday, Thursday, January 08, 2018. I was one of the respondents to his posting, “BUSINESS IDEAS”. In it, he referred to his personal family experiences to highlight some cultural impediments towards following up emergent business opportunities in our society.

Mr Fisho Mwale, summarizing his bone of contention, wrote, “Sometimes out of the box great business ideas do not work due to many factors such as timing, cultural values and lack of guts. You have to believe in your ideas and it’s important to get ‘buy in’.”

In agreement with him, I responded:

“… Great real-life entrepreneurial development case study material, …. Thanks for the insights, Sir! I wish to also add lack of what I call “Intrinsic Motivation” to the list of factors inhibiting follow-throughs to great business ideas and, indeed, opportunities arising from given circumstances.

“Intrinsic Motivation is an active killer-instinct driven desire and determination to achieve set goals, and beyond. That arising, perhaps, from chance opportunities, or those created in response to certain apparent societal, if not bigger natural conditions and/ needs. E.g. the cholera epidemic mentioned above. It works independent of external deliberate or unintended hindrances, and is often a profoundly personal journey. Seen from the outside, people in “Intrinsic Motivation” mode can appear to be selfish, reckless, one-track-minded, and defiant, amongst other negative personal attributes.

“This kind of motivation is ignited by desperate survival need circumstances too, if not a pure natural curiosity state of being. When pushed against the wall, without any possible manoeuvre or exit, fearless, “thrill-seeker”-type-people with strong wills to live will find the most ingenious ways to survive: creativity kindled to find the most unconventional solutions that could be developed into business models, subsequently.

I believe that we have to teach ourselves to be hungry enough, curious enough, and afraid enough to ignite our “Intrinsic Motivations” in order that they, pushing the continuum farther, ignite the killer-instinct guts necessary to get us to see things through, no matter the odds. It is a mind, attitude thing, really. Doable.”

The reply from Mr Fisho Mwale was gracious. He concluded by throwing me a challenge, “Thank you and I would love for you to expand more and discuss it from a National context …”

The latter got “… my Intrinsic Motivation to find, and engage with like-minded people about national development issues, plus possible solutions …” to shoot to the roof.

DEVELOPMENT: Attainment, Nurture, Sustenance.

In Social Science, the concept of Development is defined in terms of upward qualitative and quantitative transformation of society over time. Operationally, it means that from society’s observable benefits of this positive change, people will reflect higher and enduring frequencies of subjective states of contentment, hope, and belief in an ever bright future for all.

This state of affairs will be a manifestation of societies ability to provide for all the people’s basic short-term and long-term needs and wants for successful living from day-to-day, all their days: food, shelter, health, education, security, and more. Abundance is when society has a constant surplus of all the resources that are necessary to ensure that the people’s contentment levels do not dramatically spiral downwards in cases of natural calamities, wars, and, especially, population growth in time.

The objective side of Development is, therefore, operationally seen in the growth, in sheer numbers and magnitudes, of material and service values of all the tangible and intangible aspects of societal management towards lasting prosperity attainment. Herein come elements of:

  • Infrastructure – water reservoirs, food production facilities (agricultural land, food processing plants, etc), housing, roads, hospitals, schools, power stations and grids, telecommunications, and others.
  • Services – the entire spectrum of social amenities and necessary operational personnel across the board (health workers, engineers and other scientists, entrepreneurs, R&D, and many more), national security (police, military), including culture, i.e. the whole possibilities field of the creative arts.
  • Longevity – In sustained development states, short of mortal accidents of all kinds, under variable circumstances, people tend to live into ripe old ages. Absence of private and societal want, as well as a general sense and state of well-being in society tend to have a life prolonging effect on the people: resilience against various life-threatening illnesses, and ever improving medical treatments of the same.

Because Development is about growth, and is forward-looking, it can be encapsulated in the concept of progress. This means that stages of development can be measured, and isolated in terms of space and time. Viewed in this regard, it ought to be understandable that Development entails a rise in complications of societal management and administration.

In the context of this presentation, management is about the allocation of resources in appropriate quantities to relevant material and service needs in developmental work. Administration, then, sees to it that resources are applied for their originally intended purposes, and according to stipulated rules with regard to predetermined decisive conditions.
Therefore, from the point of definitions above, for Development to succeed, it is imperative that it is spearheaded by people of at least as intellectually and culturally progressive as Development itself is inherently, and necessarily entails on its reality.

“INTRINSIC MOTIVATION” FOR DEVELOPMENT: The Collective? A Leader?

On the one hand, human beings are inherently self-centered as individuals. On the other, because human beings are, actually, also very smart, they realized a long time ago that to survive in an inherently hostile nature, they had to learn to live in collectives. We, as humans against other earthly creatures, owe our position at the top of the food chain to our ability to work together in our necessary efforts to tame aspects of nature for our, yes, Development (-al) needs.

Collectives will, naturally, because it is in our genetic make up, comprise people of combinations of all kinds dispositions, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, and a myriad of all other aspects of creation that make us human. Therefore, we can, from the latter observation, extrapolate, that people will, indeed, be driven by as infinite mutations of “Intrinsic Motivation” triggers in the pursuit of their respective survival needs. This is where and when leadership need arises. The incumbent leaders may or may not emerge spontaneously, depending on the prevailing circumstances, space, and time.

Regardless of how leadership and its moving agents emerge, its essential role is to coordinate the processes that the complex developmental needs and wants of the collective, or society, impose on limited resources within given spaces in time. In a perfect world, leadership ought to serve society. Leaders need not rise in order to use, or exploit society towards their own selfish gains, subjecting the latter to much undue suffering as Development stalls, or ceases altogether.

It goes without saying that when Development collapses, the fabric of the collective, or society disintegrates. Civil unrests, some culminating into endless civil and regional wars, then; this is observable in some countries not too far away from our borders in Africa.

I contend that, in our modern societies, set Developmental goals need to be spearheaded by leaders whose “Intrinsic Motivation” for aspiring for positions of power is driven by unconditional idealistic values of service to humanity. These kinds of leaders are those selfless human beings who derive joy, and see value in their own existence only when their societies are thriving in peace and prosperity.

Deriving inspiration and guidance by a deep understanding of their people’s (the nation) own collectivised “Intrinsic Motivation” sources and objectives, these progressive leaders can instigate relevant paradigm shifts according to the state of affairs in their own societies vis-à-vis the rest of the world.

The pervasive positivity these leaders spread across their societies has an infectious effect on the people. It often inspires dreams, performance, and excellence because the benefits of everybody’s outcomes of each their own “Intrinsic Motivation” productive ventures are experienced equitably, variable relative individual needs and wants considered, of course.

What I find especially fascinating is that even if the leadership may be perceived to be despotic by the outside world, to the extent that the leadership delivers well the people’s basic needs and more, the “bad” leadership can be tolerated somewhat. Look to Singapore and, yes, South Korea.

The problem arises when the leadership’s “Intrinsic Motivation” is driven by overt, unilateral greed; also abuse of power to safeguard own interests against imminent judicial repercussions for the inherently criminal acts that facilitate this behaviour. Look to South Africa right now.

CONCLUSION

My view is that, from a national context, what spurs a nation or a people to attain heights of development is a combination of the nation’s realistic needs and wants relative to both the qualitative and quantitative natural endowments of their land.

Creation of an environment in which people are not afraid to dare to question the status quo of society’s relationship to nature and its ramifications is crucially important. As crucially important is the cultivation of a culture of sophisticated intellectual and philosophical flexibility in relation to changing local and global societal management and administration paradigms.

The above is attainable only if and when the collective’s and its leadership’s respective “Intrinsic Motivations” for Development share, as close as possible, a commonality of visions for the benefit of all, the people, and their leadership servants themselves.

To seek as much compatibility as possible between the aspirations the people have and those of the leadership is more the responsibility of the latter than the former, really. No easy task at all. As such, people seeking to serve their nations, whilst intrinsically motivated by pecuniary gains out of the potential of plundering state coffers, are in a wrongful vocation.

Business, entrepreneurship is ever waiting for gold-minting-inspired visionaries. People intrinsically motivated to serve the people in order to earn millions upon millions of US Dollars have almost unlimited possibilities in the world of business, instead. It just requires a little more imagination, hard work, and, yes, courage. Simple.

Simon Chilembo
Welkom
South Africa
Tel: +27 813185271
February 09, 2018

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