Sponsored by JAM

Stay updated on the important thing in less than 3 minutes per day

purpose and motivation

I’ve been focused this past week on trying to lose some El Bs. Intermittent fasting, smaller meal portions, you know the deal.

I got dressed yesterday and, for the first time in many a moon, it felt like I was making progress. I actually felt more svelte. When I was taking the puppy for a walk, my pants were even slipping off my hips. It felt great. I felt great.

It’s amazing how much that feeling of progress can improve one’s emotional state.

I was more productive yesterday. More focused. Happier.
I felt like I had purpose and was motivated to lose more weight. I finally was on the right track.

All of that changed at 2:00.

When I stood up from where I was sitting, my pants slipped off my hips as they had been doing since that morning. I pulled them up. But when I did, I noticed something…

My pants were unbuttoned.

They’d been unbuttoned all day.

I buttoned them back up and… <sigh>.

They felt just as tight as they had for the past three months.

I slumped back into my chair in defeat, my happiness and productivity piddled to the floor.

Mistaken Motivation

Every year, Harvard Medical School awards the Beecher Prize to a medical student “who has produced exceptional work in the field of medical ethics.”

It’s almost ironic, this prize about medical ethics. It’s named after Henry Beecher who, in a more recent era, would probably have been sued for medical malpractice due to unethical treatment of patients.

Henry (can I call him Hank?) was a medic during World War II. One day as he was treating patients, he ran out of morphine, the drug used to numb pain. In a bold move, he gave patients a basic saline solution and told them it was morphine. He lied to them. As it turns out, even though it was basically just water, it calmed people down in the same way morphine would.

Instead of malpractice, Dr. Beecher ended up discovering the Placebo Effect.

purpose and motivation

The Importance of Purpose and Motivation

The mind is a powerful thing. So powerful, it can control our body’s functioning without external stimuli. So powerful it can alter our moods simply based on a belief, regardless of its veracity.

The Placebo Effect, in case you don’t know, is when a person’s belief in a treatment results in improved health and wellness, despite the fact that the treatment can’t be attributed to causing such behavior.

This is incredibly important for successful leadership. Not that you’re going to drug your colleagues (though there are a few to which I’ve wanted to periodically slip a mickey), but understanding the mind-body connection is an important element to increasing productivity.

What Dr. Beecher stumbled upon was the understanding that the more a person believes a treatment will benefit them, the more likely they will experience that benefit.

This same concept has been proven in business scenarios.

Studies have shown that the highest levels of engaged and satisfied employees are those that feel they are making a difference in the lives of others.

I also see this a lot in my consulting business.

But one of the best examples of the importance of purpose and motivation is with the accounting consulting firm, KPMG. They changed nothing about their company – not the process, not employee compensation, no additional management training, nothing – except they set out to motivate their workforce by convincing them they had a greater purpose. They led employees to believe they were changing the world.

The result?
They had the most lucrative year in their history and job satisfaction soared to 89%.

The placebo was a greater purpose, and the result was greater motivation, increased productivity and increased revenue.

Cool, eh?
Something you should think about at your company, eh?
Do you like when I say eh, eh?

purpose and motivation

Purpose Motivates

People are motivated by purpose. They are motivated by changing the world.

According to a report in Harvard Business Review, two-thirds of employees said a higher purpose in their job would motivate them to go the extra mile.

Similarly, a Net Impact study found that employees would take a 15% pay cut to work for an organization with an inspiring purpose.

We often neglect how much the mind can control our behavior and how productivity and growth must be tied to purpose. This goes right back to my weight loss.

That button on my pants was the placebo. Though I hadn’t actually lost weight, though nothing about my body had actually changed, I believed it did. Simply because of that belief, I shifted my mindset to one of greater purpose and increased productivity.

Is there a higher purpose with your department or organization? If not, what the heck are you doing about it?

    If you like this article, please share it

    A Somewhat Relevant Quote

    The secret of passion is purpose.

    Robin Sharma, Author, 5am waker-upper

    Random News

    Personal Growth – How placebos influence personal productivity

    What A Beech – About Henry Beecher

    Nocebo – How fear reduces productivity

    Another Useless Website – it’s more stupid than it seems

    Don’t Miss Out!

    Join thousands of others who receive the weekly newsletter in their inbox.

    Share the Article

    Leave A Comment
    Let me know somebody read this

    Related Posts

    if you liked the article above, you’ll love these others

    By Title Only with Jeff Matlow

    Ready to Transform Your Business?