The Fundamental Differences Between Leadership And Management

difference between motivation and leadership

Motivation / January 19, 2023

In English, we tend to use two particular words interchangeably. To think of them as synonymous would be a mistake — because the differences between motivation and inspiration are much bigger than you may think.

I’ve been motivated to do a lot of really great things in my life:

  • learn new languages after being in another country
  • play new instruments after seeing great performers
  • lose that last ten pounds after standing under the harsh lights of the retail dressing rom
  • be a better daughter/mother/friend/boss by tomorrow at 7:00 AM after watching a tear jerker movie

In literature, an inciting incident is the initial point in a story plot where something upsets the balance of things. Suddenly, there is a problem to be solved.

When we experience that initial burst of motivation to change something, it’s a result of realizing that something needs to change in our lives. There is something bigger or greater that we recognize we want to obtain or accomplish.

To do this, motivation kicks in:

  • you get up extra early for the following week after you saw a documentary on heart disease because you want to work out before the kids wake up
  • after a tragic world event you write love notes and thank you notes to everyone in your life from your mom to your high school janitor telling them thanks for being in your life
  • you just read an article on how to put pizzazz into your resumé and you go back into the archives in your computer to dig it up

Motivation is great when it’s well intentioned.

It’s the kick in the assets you may need to get ‘er done. It’s your very own “inciting incident” that involves pushing and trying to find the willpower when you need something to focus on to get through.

Motivation, although useful, is also short sighted and looking for the feel-good moment to keep going. One random act or anything unforeseen that comes along can affect it’s focus and power.

  • the second week of early mornings don’t seem so important anymore
  • the thank you cards taper off after the first five that you poured your heart in to
  • you polish your resumé but then lose interest in pursuing anything new

Inspiration, however, comes along in a more subtle way. When you’re living from the point of inspiration in what you are doing and who you are being, the unexpected doesn’t throw you totally off course.

  • you become inspired to take care of yourself because of who you want to be when you’re retired
  • you are inspired to show thoughtfulness and gratefulness to others because of how you want them to feel and how you want to be remembered
  • you consider your career as an evolving journey and inspiration causes you to stay open to opportunities for growth

Motivation has its place when you need to get a job done, stay focused on a short term goal or even just push yourself to finish your workout. However, you can’t rely purely on motivation to shape your future.

If you want to live your life in light of the long term, you are going to need more.

You are going to need inspiration that pulls you and draws you forward. Motivation and inspiration are first cousins, but they aren’t doppelgängers ;).

Inspiration is there regardless of how you feel, looking for the next thing that makes sense to the bigger picture.

2. Motivation is always on the lookout for short term gains.

These gains are important, but they are not the whole. Inspiration is willing to stay slow and steady because of the bigger picture.

4. Motivation pushes from behind, inspiration pulls and draws you towards a future you want.

It attracts, captivates, and it allows for resonance in the way that it connects ideas together and is open to being shaped and moulded over the long haul.

Motivation is about control: controlling your feelings, actions, steps.When control is lost, we can lose our motivation or will power. Worse yet, we can even pass judgment on ourselves for what we didn’t accomplish.

Am I biased towards inspiration? Yep. 100%. But I still need motivation every day to get things done.

Those dishes don’t wash themselves, these blogs don’t magically throw themselves into your inbox, and my speaking and coaching gigs don’t just fall from the sky.

The difference is that when that motivation is tied to the inspiration of why I do what I do and who I do it for, I can flow with life the way it was meant to be. I can live in light of something bigger than what I see right now in front of me.

And that always makes it worth it.

There is no better time than the present to take a minute and ask what truly inspires you – and take the steps needed today to begin to move towards that future. Working towards an inspired future changes everything.

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