I am reading a new book by Rick Peterson titled, The Art of Coaching Young Athletes. His description of motivation is one of the best I’ve read and really got me thinking about the culture of competition in our society. Here’s an excerpt:

“Certain motivational types and methods are of a higher quality than others. In general, self-motivation is the highest form of motivation an athlete can attain, in part because the fires within burn continuously and therefore are in less need of period external ‘stoking.’ Coaches should help their charges motivate themselves because ultimately that burrning desire to succeed will be most consistently powerful if the impetus comes from the inside.

These ‘want to’ motivational types are mainly intrinsic in nature. The lower forms of motivation (fear, ‘have to’, and rewards) are extrinisic in nature. Reward motivation is an anomaly in that it is a ‘want to,’ but entirely extrinsic. It is a cheap form of ‘want to’ because instead of the athlete deciding on his or her own to work harder, the external reward is the motivating force. Take away that extrinsic reward and motivation lags. Our objective should be to help our athletes become more intrinsically motivated.”