Changing Motivations - Christine Kane

“Once you can see how a game that used to work has ceased to work, then, and only then, can you dream up a new game, a better one.”                                                    – Seth Godin

In Seth Godin’s recent blog, he writes about how businesses must “change personas” when they’ve grown up and out of an old brand or identity that no longer serves them.

His post made me understand why I often tell my clients that good marketing and self-awareness go hand in hand.  I sometimes joke that Byron Katie is really just teaching you how to market you better to yourself in your own mind.  There’s a connection between the messages we tell ourselves (our habitual persona) and our ability to stay motivated (or buy in).  We are like walking little microcosms of the business and the marketplace – all in our own little heads.  The story we tell ourselves needs to change each time we uplevel our lives and businesses.


Well, entrepreneurs and creatives are diagnosed with Bright Shiny Object Syndrome for a reason.  We fall in love with our emotional reactions to things.  We market to ourselves that a better something-or-other is up ahead glinting in the light.  It becomes our motivation, and it works for a while.

The problem is that emotional reactivity will only carry you so far.

Just like Seth’s descriptions of the early personas of a business, our early motivations are almost always about reaction:  The rebel. The underdog. The anarchist.

And the reaction-based model works.   At first.

But on any true creative path, you will uplevel.  As you do this, you create a new “normal.”  At this new level, you won’t be fueled by the same reactive fire that got you started.

“I hate my job, and I have to get the hell out of this cubicle,” is a great motivation at first.  It’ll fire you up to stomp into the boss man’s office and quit.  It’ll send you out in search of a low-rent studio, knowing you never want to go back to that drudgery.   However, when your new endeavor gets legs and is no longer based in reacting to that old cubicle, you’ll need a higher-level motivation.

“Geez, I just want to make money to survive each month,” loses its steam when you master your cashflow and create consistent income.  At that point, you must go inward and connect with a new WHY.

Purpose is dynamic. It expands. It changes. It requires that you stay deeply in touch with the messages that are motivating you.  Your spirit has no interest in auto-pilot and gets weary of the underdog role.

Ultimately, what Seth is describing is that every brand must move beyond the Reactive and into the Creative with their strategy and their game plan.

Same goes for every life.

  • Farnoosh

    Dearest and most fabulous Christine, is it ok for me to quote you on a speech I am giving in Blogworld New York City later this month. I have a small section on purpose – my talk is on Motivation for the New Media Professional …. and I want to use these gorgeous words: “Purpose is dynamic. It expands. It changes. It requires that you stay deeply in touch with the messages that are motivating you. ” – Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Christine Kane

      Absolutely Farnoosh! A few weeks ago, I saw that you were speaking at Blogworld on their site — and I pumped my fist in the air and said, “Go Farnoosh!” Congrats! And i’m honored to be quoted! 🙂

  • Jennifer

    It’s true, being a rebel is attractive for only so long. Then it’s time to settle into a meaningful place and settle of being more, not necessarily creating more. Though creating more is good but only when it comes from being authentic.

    One my problems is that I’ve been addicted to being the rebel. Now that I’m out on my own and embracing my true self, I see that there’s no need to be a rebel at all. Life is what you make it and things can be accomplished with clarity and ease. Though things won’t always be easy, there’s no reason why we have to put up a fight. The more you resist, the more problems will persist.

  • Mary Miller

    As always! Perfectly timed Christine, thank you. Stepping in to my BIGGER SELF (which actually is funny, because for the first time in years I’m actally, successfully loosing weight (yay!!!Woo!!!hoo!!!Joy!!!Happiness!!!)-a major goal of mine.

  • LivewithFlair

    Thanks for this, Laura! This actually gives me insight into what’s been happening with me regarding why I wanted to publish my writing handbook. I moved from “reactive” to “creative” and I’m SO HAPPY I DID! I published “How to Write with Flair” yesterday. Here’s the story:

  • Lydia Puhak

    I love your spin on this! I’ve been thinking a bunch about motivations lately — those external forces that push us along, “cause” us to react a certain way. I’m wondering, as we become more aligned with really WHY we’re here, perhaps we are not only changing motivations, but becoming more inspired and inspiring by how we are being and what we are doing, how we are affecting others. I’ll be taking this inquiry into my day and beyond… Thanks for inspiring me!

  • Laura

    I was so happy to see your take on SG’s post on changing personas. It’s funny to look back on how reactive I was to getting out of the academic world, which now seems so far away. You’re absolutely right in that the motivation of “getting away from” or “showing them,” will only take you so far. What has helped me enormously to manage the emotional tussle that accompanies changing motivations is your insistence on regular exercise, “not to lose weight but to manage emotions.” I swim so much now that I’ll be swimming 2.4 miles in open water in a local event next month. Thanks for another great post.

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Laura! It’s great to hear that you’ve been able to move beyond that place of “resisting” academia and into claiming what’s next for you. (And congrats on the swimming!!)