For most, motivation reflects the drive to achieve. What most people are not aware of, however, is that motivation can be positive or negative. Positive motivation comes from within – the desire to achieve. Negative motivation comes from outside the person – the threat of the negative consequences of not achieving.
Negative motivation involves feelings of being pushed or cajoled by an outside entity, perhaps by a dance partner, coach or significant others – this may bring the desired result, but can leave a person feeling disempowered – not a good place for a dancer to be. Negative motivation can also be easily recognised through your own internal language. Words like “should”, “must” “got to” and similar are all indicators of negativity. Changing to “want to”, “will” and so on can create a more positive slant on a situation. We are all in control of our own selves, and negative can easily be changed to positive through altering the way a situation is viewed and internalised.

Positive emotion is an underpinning element of success on and off the floor
and this is evident in all top performers.

Let me introduce two new terms – the in-dividual (your unconscious mind) and the out-dividual (your conscious mind). You’ll easily recognise these in your own experience. The in-dividual knows what to do and simply wants to get on with it and enjoy the experience of dong it well. The out-dividual is that voice “in your head” … that ongoing commentary that is quick to judge. You know where I’m coming from; we’ve all got our own examples to draw upon. You will easily identify which words will create negative or positive motivation.

So, how can these two powerful forces – the instructing out-dividual and
the doing in-individual – develop a solid “working relationship”,
one that will lead to a high level of performance.

You need to appreciate that the in-dividual mind learns best through visual imagery. It has the ability to repeat an action after “seeing” it even only once – it knows what nerves are required, what muscles to engage and so on. The out-dividual tends to not trust the in-dividual mind (your nerves, muscles etc) to utilise natural learning processes, and takes on tasks it is not suited for, creating conflict and impeding progress.

Over instruction and negative criticism inhibits best performances from being achieved.

What would happen if you “trained” both “dividuals” to focus on those tasks they were designed to do, allowing a positive working relationship to develop, and positive outcomes to be experienced – in real terms, greater enjoyment of your dancing as well as improved performance through the now gainful utilisation of energy that was previously employed in criticism and self destruction.
How can we achieve outcomes rather than good or bad performances – because an outcome denotes an action leading to a result? Further, how can we maximise the attainment of desired outcomes and minimise those outcomes that don’t bring the rewards sought? Achieving what we desire creates its own positive mental attitude that in turn leads to even more achievement … and the desire to continue doing so (positive motivation).
The first step is to become aware of how each “dividual” works.
Your out-dividual:
– has the job of observing, evaluating, setting goals
– needs to give the in-dividual the freedom to do its job (to imagine) and the trust that it can turn imagination into reality
– must let go of the criticisms, the demands, the recriminations – “beating yourself up” – that perpetuate the problem.
Your in-dividual learns the only way it knows how, through:
– visual imagery (not verbal control).
– programming positively towards achieving anticipated outcomes

A strong working relationship comes from a mutually positive understanding between the two “dividuals” along with discipline on both their parts. Protect your in/out-dividuals.

What you think about … visualise … can determine a future performance more effectively than simply allowing your out-dividual self to look for ways of dodging errors and poor performances. You can move past a “mistake” simply by acknowledging an error has occurred, then let it go … move on … because you can’t change what has happened. Instead, visualise what the preferred outcome was, and the action required to achieve it. Allow both your “dividuals” to try to get it right next time – ask your in-dividual self to visualise how it will look and feel, then ask you out-dividual to trust this will happen. When you “get it right” praise both your “dividuals” for a job well done. Reinforce this outcome through visual replay, using all your senses to appreciate the event. Invite yourself to do the same again next time … and trust that it will when the time comes.
So, motivation and how to live it – positively or negatively? I suppose the answer lies in the result, and in how a person prefers to entice themselves into action. Either way, motivation doesn’t happen by itself. The clever person uses both their ind-vidual and out-dividual selves to make the best of what has been dealt them.

What comes next depends on you – is your glass half full … or … half empty …

By Jeff Withers