Motivation To Change


Before we go into more detailed issues, I’d like to establish a generalized understanding of Motivation.  As leaders, we want our Chapter or Quartet to improve but in order to improve things must change and in order for change to take place people must be motivated to change.

So what of motivation?  Why do other do what they do?   Why do WE do what WE do?  In most cases, it’s because of habit.   We are “creatures of habit” so what we’re used to, we continue to do.  This is the norm that needs to be addressed if change is to take place.  So what can motivate others (or us) to change?


There are 4 types of motivations. 

  1. 1. Positive Intrinsic     Satisfaction

  2. 2. Negative Intrinsic    Failure

  3. 3. Positive Extrinsic    Incentives or Rewards

  4. 4. Negative Extrinsic   Punishment

Each of these 4 types can induce us or others to change their behavior.


We all know that some negative things deter us and that positive things attract us.  Of course we always prefer the positive.  Yet we can learn a great deal from failure and so negative results are important also


In addition to the positive/negative aspect, there is another very significant factor to be considered - the intrinsic and the extrinsic.  This is a bit abstract to understand, but it is real.  We understand positive and negative much better than intrinsic and extrinsic so let me elaborate.

Some motivations we feel are inherent in the action we are taking.  The results are within the action - intrinsic to the action.  In other words, we get either intrinsic satisfaction or negative results from what we do.  That motivates us in a certain direction.  For instance, in singing we gain satisfaction in the singing activity which motivates us to seek more of that satisfaction by further singing.  When we mess up a passage, it may motivate us to practice more.

On the other hand, rewards and punishment are motivators outside the activity - (singing).  Rewards and punishment are extrinsic to the action.  For instance, applause from an audience or praise from a director are extrinsic motivators. They may encourage or urge us to do something different but the extrinsic has it limitations. The problem with extrinsic motivation even when it is positive, is that it may not last.  The extrinsic is a temporary expediency.  Positive extrinsic motivation (rewards) need to be repeated with further rewards.  Negative extrinsic motivation (punishment) is only effective when the authority figure is around or knows about the inferior’s action.

So that leads us to:

THE VALUES OF EACH TYPE which are different for each type.

Positive Intrinsic:  This is the best type of motivation and we need to inspire each other to gain these good results.  Satisfaction is the best motivator.  As singers this means the joy of singing - enjoying the sound & enjoying the singing activity itself.  As leaders, we need to be sure our singing is as satisfying as possible.  This does not always mean “wonderful singing” as many are satisfied with much less.  We need to know our group and satisfaction becomes a real problem when various members have widely different levels.

Negative Intrinsic:  Failure can be a great learning experience.  Learning what not to do is valuable.  Pain can be a great motivator to change.  When we are discourage with our contest results though, we need to recognize that something as complex as a music performance has many aspects and not let our failures overshadow what went well and what we did accomplish.  Nevertheless, we need to learn from what goes wrong and could be improved.  Directors often would do better by demonstrating both how something should sound but also how it should not sound -   teaching by contrast not by just what is right.  It makes for clarity.

Positive Extrinsic:  The reward of a “Gold Medal” may help in motivation but it is a transitory thing.  We see this as our “Gold Medal” quartet members re-form in another quartet to win again.  The fact that a “Gold Medal” represents the respect from our peers is a valuable incentive, yet it is still not as valuable as “ singing satisfaction”.   See Dr. Jim Henry’s July 29th, 2007  Harmony University Keynote Address called “Gold Medal Moments” for a wonderful exposition of barbershop satisfaction and rewards.

Negative Extrinsic:  This type of manipulation should have no place in any voluntary group though some leaders try by threatening others with dire consequences.  At times some victims may feel that they are being punished, but their reactions should be diverted to recognizing that it is really negative results in achieving their group’s goals. Change negative extrinsic to negative intrinsic.

We should prefer the intrinsic over extrinsic and positive over negative. Therefore, Positive Intrinsic (Satisfaction) is the ideal form of motivation and Negative Extrinsic (Punishment) is the worst form.  The Positive Extrinsic (Rewards) has some motivational but limited use and  the Negative Intrinsic (Failure) should simply be use as a learning experience.


A word about discipline - a negative persuasive tactic.  This happens in a situation of hierarchy - where one person is in a superior position to another-  such as a parent/child situation or a teacher/student relationship.  In an optional activity such as a quartet or barbershop chorus, we don’t rely on discipline - as strong hierarchy is not present.  Members can quit - and they do, if not treated with respect.  Even in a strong hierarchical relationship such as parenting, lack of respect will cause undesirable complications.

                                  Click Here To Continue

                      If you have any confusions or suggestions,

                          click on my E-Mail Address to send me a message.