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The psychology of self-motivation | Scott Geller | TEDxVirginiaTech


Translator: Quan Sun
Reviewer: Denise RQ Thank you. Thank you. Beyond boundaries. What a theme, huh? Now, when I think of boundaries, I think of rules, regulations,
and restrictions. And I think of the parents,
and the teachers, and the supervisors, who hold us accountable
with regard to those boundaries. That’s not a bad thing. Yeah, I know, if you’re like me,
I need supervisors, I need someone holding me accountable
to do the right thing. But beyond boundaries
is something different. I think of those leaders, those teachers,
those supervisors, those parents who inspire us
to go beyond the call of duty, to do more than we have to, to do it not because they tell us,
but because we want to. I would like to share with you what the research says
about how to make that happen. And not just for other people,
but for yourself. Here is the deal, how could we inspire
people and ourselves to be self-motivated? There is another word.
It’s called “empowerment”. You’ve heard that word, right? Now, the management definition
of empowerment is, “Get it done. Just get it done. With fewer resources and less time,
I empower you, make it happen.” I’m talking about feeling empowered. That’s different. Feeling empowered
is when you’re self-motivated. Now, if you want to know
if you feel empowered, or if your child, your student,
your worker feels empowered, ask them three questions. If they say yes to these three questions,
they will feel empowered. And by the way, this is not based on common sense,
this is based on research. But you’ve all been there,
so it’ll feel like common sense. Question number one: can you do it?
Albert Bandura calls it self-efficacy. Do you believe you can do it? Do you have the time,
the knowledge, and the training to do what we are asking you to do? If you answer yes, good. Second question: will it work? Do you believe that what we’re asking you
to do, the process, will work? Albert Bandura calls that
response-efficacy: believing that the behavior
would lead to the ultimate outcome. By the way, that takes education. We have to show them the data,
we might show them some theory, we show them, teach them
why this might work. I just used the word ‘education’.
Earlier, I used the word ‘training’. Is there a difference? In elementary school,
we call it education. Middle school: education.
High school: education. College: higher education. (Laughter) Then you go to industry,
what do you call it? Training. You have your training department.
There must be a difference. Well, you know the difference. Do you want your kids to have
sex education or sex training? (Laughter) And your kids might answer
the question differently. (Laughter) Because you know that training means
you do the behavior and you get feedback. That’s powerful. Powerful. Have you ever heard this word
‘online training’? It’s an oxymoron, isn’t it? I mean training is to watch the behavior, but online training is
like plastic silverware, jumbo shrimp, legal brief, country music. (Laughter) I mean, it doesn’t work. OK, so if you answer yes,
till it will work, third question: is it worth it? So we’ve had a training question,
we’ve had an educational question; this is the motivational question. Do you believe the consequences–
This is about the consequences. B.F. Skinner taught us this:
“selection by consequences”. Dale Carnegie quoted
B.F. Skinner and said that from the day you were born, everything you did was because you
wanted something for doing it. Consequences. Is it worth it? So you have to convince people
that it’s worth it. Now, by the way, if you answer
yes to those three questions, you feel competent, am I right? You feel competent
at doing worthwhile work. You’ve all been there. When you feel competent
at doing worthwhile work, you’re more likely to be self-motivated. You’ve been there.
No one has to look over you. Here is the challenge leaders, teachers. How do you inspire people
to feel competent? Well, you give them feedback.
You give them recognition. You show them they are competent. OK. I got one more another C word: choice. Your common sense will tell you. When you believe
you have a sense of autonomy, a sense of choice in what you’re doing,
you feel more self-motivated. B.F. Skinner taught us that, too,
in his book “Beyond Freedom and Dignity”, way back in 1971. Reading that book changed my life, because I realized
that I am controlled by consequences. But sometimes I don’t feel controlled. When I’m working
for a pleasant consequence, it feels good, it feels
like I’m working to get something. When I’m working to avoid
an aversive consequence, I feel controlled. That is called negative reinforcement. So here is a challenge, leaders: how do we get people
to become success seekers, rather than failure avoiders? First day of Introductory Psychology class – I teach two classes of 600 students, maybe some of you’ve been
in that class and remember – the first day I say,
“How many are here to avoid failure?” And 80% raise your hand. I say, “Well, thanks for coming,
I know you’re motivated, but you are not happy campers. You probably told your friends, ‘I’ve got to go to class.
It’s a requirement.’ Not ‘I get to go to class.
It’s an opportunity.’ You probably woke up to an alarm clock
not an opportunity clock.” (Laughter) It’s all in how you see it.
Really, it’s all in how you see it. It’s your paradigm. It’s how you communicate to others
and how you communicate to yourself. So, Ellen Langer said
in her book “Mindfulness”, – and psychologists know – “When you perceive choice,
you perceive motivation.” You’re more motivated. So the deal is, for yourself
sit back and reflect, be mindful of the choices you have. And talk about being a success seeker,
rather than a failure “avoider”. It’s all how you talk, how you communicate
to yourself and to others. I got a fourth C word: community. Powerful word. Psychologists know
that social support is critical. People who perceive
a sense of relatedness, a sense of connection with other people,
feel motivated, and they are happier. I want to recite a poem. It’s called “The cookie thief”
by Valerie Cox. And as I recite this poem, – there is only two characters,
a men and a lady – put yourself in the situation. Be mindful, think about the situation
and what you would do. OK? Here we go. A woman was waiting
at an airport one night With several [long] hours
before her flight. She hunted for a book in the airport shop Bought a bag of cookies
and found a place to drop. She was engrossed in her book
but happened to see That the man beside her
as bold as could be [Grabbed] a cookie or two
from the bag between Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene She read, munched cookies,
and watched the clock As this gutsy cookie thief
diminished her stock She was getting more irritated
as the minutes ticked by Thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice,
I’d blacken his eye.” With each cookie she took, he took one too When only one was left
she wondered what he’d do With a smile on his face
and a nervous laugh He took the last cookie
and he broke it in half (Laughter) He offered her a half as he ate the other She snatched it from him
and thought, “Oh, brother. This guy has some nerve,
and he’s also rude. [Why] he didn’t even show any gratitude.” She had never known
when she had been so galled And sighed with relief
when her flight was called She gathered her belongings
and headed for the gate Refusing to look back
at the thieving ingrate She boarded the plane and sank in her seat Then she sought her book
which was almost complete As she reached in her baggage,
she gasped with surprise There was her bag of cookies
in front of her eyes (Laughter) “If mine are here,”
she moaned with despair “Then the others were his,
and he tried to share.” “Too late to apologize,”
she realized with grief That she was the rude one,
the ingrate, the thief. So, where were you, when I was– Where were you? Who’s side were you on? Were you thinking independent?
Or interdependent? I don’t blame you
if you think independent. That’s how we are raised. Nice guys finish last.
Squeaky wheel gets the grease. Gotta blow your own horn. Independent. We come in this life of ours
dependent of others, and then we can’t wait
to become teenagers. We are too old to do what kids do.
Too young to do what adults do. So that we will do that nobody else
would do to assert our independence. And some of us gets stuck there.
We are stuck. I’ll do it myself. I don’t need you. Not good. We need each other.
We have to have each other’s back. We need a sense of community. This independence culture that we got,
we have to move to interdependent. OK, four “C” words
that can fuel self-motivation, and I think can fuel
actively caring for people. Let me tell you a story
to put it all together. It happened over 60 years ago.
I remember it like yesterday. My parents asked me, “Hey, Scott. How would you like to get drum lessons?
How would you like to play the drums?” Oh man! Would I ever? I’m thinking of Buddy Rich
and Gene Krupa. Most of you guys don’t know those names,
but they were the drummers. In those days, the drum
was in front of the band. They had White Pearl drum sets,
and I saw it myself. That was my vision. I had a vision: consequences.
That was my vision. And I said, “Yeah, I want
to take drum lessons.” So the teacher would bring
his drum set next to mine. I didn’t have a nice drum like this. My parents bought me
a beatable drum at an auction. And they said to me, “If you get better,
if your teacher tells us you get– – they are holding me accountable – teacher says you are getting better,
we will get you a better snare drum, and then a bass drum,
and then some cymbals.” And that was my vision,
and that kept me going: consequences. So the teacher would come in,
and he would show me stuff: this is how–, left hand; this is how Buddy Rich plays
with his left hand and his right hand. and then he’d do things like a flam. (Drum) Can you hear that at the back? You OK?
And this is a rimshot. (Drum) He would show me stuff.
I was just 10 years old, remember? And when he showed me stuff,
I felt, “Wow!” He showed me this little simple drumbeat,
“Watch me, Scott, watch this.” (Drum) And I practiced it. And I did it.
I am feeling competent. He showed me a paradiddle, “Listen.
(Playing drums) Paradiddle, paradiddle.” “You go home and practice; next week,
I want to see your paradiddling. I said, “Watch this.” (Drumming) And I said, “Watch this.” (Drumming) He said, “That’s a double paradiddle.
We didn’t get there yet.” I am really ahead. (Laughter)
Because I’m self-motivated. I feel competent. I’m walking through Newberg High School,
Allentown, Pennsylvania. I see the music teacher, and he says, “I’ve heard you’re learning
to play the drums.” I said, “Yeah! I’m getting good.” He said, “You can march in the band.
You can be the snare drummer.” Wow! That felt good. Another vision. Then the teacher comes into my– – these are private lessons, by the way,
two dollars, that was a long time ago – He said, “Scott! Ready to do a drum roll.” I said, “Of course,
I’m ready for a drum roll.” And he says, “Watch this, Scott!
Here you go. Watch this.” (Drumming) “Hmm… could you do that again?” “Scott. This is easy. Watch me.” (Drumming) “Now, you practice that, and next week,
I want to see your drum roll.” He comes back the next week
and says, “How is your drum?” “Hmm… I can do a paradiddle.”
(Drumming) “That’s regression. Ha-ha.
I want to see a drum roll.” Week after week,
now we’re talking about distress. Now we’re talking about apathy. Now we are talking
about learned helplessness. That’s what psychologists call it. I remember walking
through that elementary school and seeing the music teacher who said, “So, Scott, how are you doing?
How are the drums?” “Huh, not so good.
I can’t do a drum roll.” You know, like adults
always say, ” Never say can’t. You can be anything
you want to be, Scott.” “No. I can’t do a drum roll. I’ve tried and I tried,
and I’ve kind of given up.” And he says, “Scott, when you ever
get overwhelmed, break it down.” Break it down. Can you do a paradiddle?” “Yeah!” (Drumming) “OK, what’s the second beat?”
“Two beats.” (Drumming) “Yeah. Well, that’s a drum roll, Geller.
It’s two beats.” (Drumming) You go home and practice,
and you say, “Dad and mama,” – remember I was just 10 – “You go ‘dad and mama, dad and mama’.” (Drum) It’s a drum roll. That teacher came back the next week, “OK, Scott. I guess
you can’t do a drum roll.” I said, “Watch this.” (Drumming) He said, “Wow!
How did you learn to do that?” And I showed my teacher. (Drumming) I taught my teacher. 10 years old. He said, “I’ve forgotten.
I got into the habit of just doing this (Drumming) and I forgot that it is two beats. You taught me how to teach
the drum roll, Scott. There is a lesson there:
we can always learn from each other. We need to have the humility
to accept feedback, and the courage to speak up. And we need to help each other
feel self-motivated. How? Give them the perception of competence.
Teach them about ‘consequences drive us’. Let them perceive choice,
and let them know it’s community. We’re all in this together.
And we need each other. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “The psychology of self-motivation | Scott Geller | TEDxVirginiaTech

  1. Man… this guy has a full life time experience and that's so precious. He's a great speaker too! he could transmit his knowledge to others outstandingly.. I admire this type of people. Thanks Doc.

  2. I heart is literally bounding – I feel so motivated right now – this is exactly what i needed to hear! Also this relates to me so much casue im about to finish a degree is sociology, I love it.

  3. its truly a nice video sir. i was feeling demotivated and shattered because of the hard time that i am facing right now but your video truly showed me that why i started and whether i have the capacity to do it or not. It was fear of consequences and community that left me incapacitated.. but seriously thanks for this self motivation video..

  4. These teachings have changed my life. I’ve literally gone from the bottom to the top!!!! who knew it wasn’t about working physically harder or waiting for someone to do something or a lucky brake all the power is actually in your imagination, tho you have to believe as well. The thoughts alone are not enough and self knowledge alone is not enough. The combination of thought,feelings and action That’s the ticket !!!!

  5. I was looking for motivation to “live” not “do”. I don’t have a problem “doing”. Where can I find that kind of motivation?

  6. I am a final year btech student.
    For almost past 6 years I have been thinking about changing my subject from science to commerce. This video really gave me a push to pursue my passion and as soon as I graduate from my University I will pursue mba

  7. summary:
    every individual must be able to answer these three questions before deciding to do a task:
    1. Do I believe that I can do it? Do I have the time, training and knowledge?
    2. Will it work?
    3. Is it worth it?
    If the answer is yes to all these questions then go for it.
    We should not be afraid to ask for help. Humans are interdependent animals. We can only move forward while working as a society.
    whenever we feel overwhelmed by any goal that seems unachievable at first, break down the task into parts and do it again, step-by-step you will surely progress and ultimately achieve your goal.
    we can always learn from each other, we just need to have the humility to ask for feedback

  8. The talk was on a very complex topic broken down in such a small and easy pieces, just like the drum roll he delivered it so competently. Also you can feel how he tries to motivate everyone, if I were there I would have stood up and clapped to give back some of that motivation.

  9. Stop talking about how a leader should motivate people and then call it self motivation boo no SELF. SELF motivation. Bye

  10. Self-motivation only goes so far… there comes a crisis point at which each of us will realize that he or she is helpless. At this point, there are only two option: Despair or prayer. You tell me which option makes more sense when there is literally nothing to lose.

  11. I've heard the cookie poem, but in a more straightforward way that wasn't a poem on Quora so I can't really think independent or interdependent. I knew what was happening all along.

  12. Hey im curious … If u have a theory u would like to Bring attention to a ted talks personnel… Where or who would u email or message ? Pleeease

  13. He Is an Amazing Speaker, Full Of Energy and Very Uplifting and Most Definitely a Self-Motivator!!!Thank You For Your Support Mr Scott Geller.

  14. i’m a life coach and i slap my students in the face to motivate them, i’ve found that physical trauma is the best way to make people change , of course i have them sign wavers not holding me accountable for any physical trauma they experience during out sessions but getting slapped in the face is the best way to succeed.

  15. Habit needs a little bit of discipline to get going. But motivation is fickle and fleeting. But once the habitual behaviour kicks in motivation will be plentiful.

  16. started watching this to learn how to get self motivated …. lost the motivation to watch it after 40 seconds

  17. I loved this talk but when he said "it's not based on common sense…it's based in research" I struggled. I'd feel more comfortable pulling the trigger on things based on common sense since my hope is that research will ultimately point directly to it. Unfortunately, sometimes research doesn't make sense; common or otherwise.

  18. Love the story and the message ! It's true that we need each other, the coach, teacher, masters, father, mother, are crucial to us … Doing things only for yourself does not bring motivation.

  19. Literally the BEST TED talk I have watched in a LONG time .. and there have been some others that were pretty awesome.. but this one .. THIS ONE is worth watching .. more than once !

  20. America, what's wrong with you or your education that you don't enjoy learning new things and making the things right? How come you need this kind of bs videos to make your own life interesting and comfortable?

  21. "Competency is key to motivation." I did not know that. "Break it down into small parts." Hmmm. Okay, I'll try that. Thanks.

  22. Great presentation. I learned a lot.
    Consequence, competence, choice, community.
    Those things I will keep on my mind. ❤️

  23. This guy has stolen some stuff from Zig Ziglar and did not have the decency to mentioned that thumbs down.

  24. As a consequence of watching this talk, I've instantly started reading Beyond freedom and dignity. In less than 2 hours (as a slow reader), I've read this and I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone interested in becoming a better person in their lifetime. Bear in mind I have the same 24hrs as everyone else. Great talk that I am kindly grateful for.

  25. Can't believe this guy actually quoted Doctor Skinner and is referring to highly outdated 'behaviorism' based on research done with rats and other animals. We don't do our best when offered an incentive. In fact we lose interest, become less creative and perform poorer when offered rewards. Please read the books by Alfie Kohn. You will find all the current research there.

  26. question 1: are you paid enough … NO question 2: are you overworked as it is … YES question 3 : are you happy with your development in the workplace  NO THERE IS NONE Are you motivated ? …… What do you think

  27. I`m mind blown! What a great man You are, Sir! Thank You for Your perspective and ways to break down the simple stuff that we have the habit of making difficult, and re-teach us like the best of friends.

  28. Ofcourse every motivational video has a power of its own. I too had a lot of encouragement and I have been self motivated. It is a good video with a strong message and I believe in motivational videos

  29. This video has motivated me a lot. Scott Geller is an amazing speaker and psychologist who can inspire generations!

    Your level of passion for any goal can be measured by the level of physical energy or desire you display when you anticipate having it. Only with sufficient energy within ourselves can we grow the necessary passion to manifest our physical goals.

    We need to support each other and take our community into consideration. We also need to learn the habit of accepting feedback that eventually helps us grow and feel empowered.

    The 3 important questions he insisted were:

    • Do you believe you can do it? (time, knowledge and training)

    • Will it work? (education)

    • Is it worth it? (motivation)

    If yes to all three, you feel competent.

    Thank you TedX for sharing this excellent talk!

  30. So the smartest comment gets the laugh. Who can top it? Stop being sheep there is value in this message, clearly great wisdom. However, there is also a dark side to these talks, because we don't know the back story. Who is this man? What privileges did he have? Who were his parents? The point is that, it's all good and well to blast out amazing philosophy but . . . where does that leave the broken people. The people, through no fault of their own, find themselves trapped, lonely suffering endless sorry. Shattered family's blown into a million fragments, impossible to fix. Then the sadness comes back. Who will lead the broken people, understand them, help them? These talks, in a sense, can actually have a negative effect on one, especially if you are broken inside. Why, because of comparisons, what's wrong with me? I'm talking about comparisons that need to be made, when listening to this mans wonderful talk. Comparisons have to be made. Who is this man? What privileges did he have? Who were his parents. Where did he live……? If you have ever lived on the streets, have an alcoholic parent, we are on the same teem. This mans team, we know nothing about. We are the broken people possibly forever and forever unfix-able. Can you really repair fine China that has been pulverised? No you can't. You can try and glue it back together, but the flaws, so many? Lost like frightened stray cats who live in dark alleys, looking for peace, happiness and love. We are the broken underprivileged nomads.

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