Here is a short story that may strike one as simple but is, on the other hand, fraught with meaning. A philosopher was walking down a street when he saw a man busy at work. “What are you doing?’ he asked. ‘Can’t you see? I am putting one brick over another!’, answered the person. The philosopher walked on until he came to another man doing the same thing. ‘What are you doing?’ he asked him. Without turning around, the man answered him, ‘I am building a wall.’ The philosopher continued on his walk.
Soon he came upon yet another man doing the same work and he asked him the same question. This time the worker looked at him, smiled and said, ‘I am building a hospital where the sick can be cured.’ The philosopher returned his smile. Continuing his walk, he mused, ‘Three men doing the same work but one is a pessimist, another is a realist and the third an idealist.’ The pessimist of course was the first man, placing one brick on top of another mechanically. He paid little attention to his work and derived no enjoyment from what he was doing. Obviously he was learning nothing from it either. His intention was to do the least work for the most money he could get. He would as soon break bricks as put them together and was nothing more than a human machine.
The second man who was building a wall was putting more of himself into his task. He would probably work towards building the best wall that he could. He had a goal in mind and was working towards it sincerely. He would gather experience as he went along and the future would see him build stronger walls and also houses in which people would live in comfort. He was engaged in a promising livelihood which would enable him to look after his family. The third man was all this and more. He possessed vision and nurtured a dream in his mind. His interest went beyond the family and embraced his neighbors, friends and strangers. Work represented to him more than just earning a living. He was willing not only to discharge his duties but shoulder responsibilities as well.
Do you wonder into which category you would fall? There will be times when we feel like the pessimist, that life has scant meaning and it matters little what we do. Most of the times, we are realists leading ordinary but useful lives. It is given only to a few to be idealists all the time. They are the Mahatmas, the great thinkers. We can be realists taking life in our stride, doing our best at the same time to emulate the idealists. The most important thing to keep in mind about motivation is that we cannot motivate others. Motivation comes from within – people motivate themselves. The only thing a supervisor, a manager, or anybody else can do is to create the conditions for people towards motivation themselves