Application – Motivation and Meaning in the Work Environment

According to Seligman (2002), motivation is related to character or human signature strength. Humans will never be omnipotent, but they can do their small best to contribute to omnipotence, and, consequently, find meaning in life. Meaning has to be bigger than the individual. A happy and meaningful/purposeful life is using one’s own strengths to forward power. Power is good knowledge. Happiness is well-being. The other benefit of using one’s own signature strength is to live a happy life, full of positive emotions, feelings, gratitude and gratifications.

Different cognitive and social tasks serve different motivations towards fulfillment. Motivation contributes to human development. Examples of motivations are self-efficacy, self-determination and self-realization and intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Motivation is a person’s own perception of controlling external events.

Also, manager’s leadership is necessary for motivating employees’ performance. According to Frey’s principles of leadership and motivation:

1. Workers need their work to be meaningful, to make sense. A vision of the big picture is the most motivating factor.

2. It is important that there are no organizational secrets among all employees are workers of an organization. Everyone has to be crystal clear about conditions and changes.

3. Workers who are involved in making decisions, in return, they like to take on more responsibilities.

4. The work has to match the person’s skills.

5. Specific goals improve performance.

6. Praise and positive feedback increases motivational performance.

7. The most motivated workers and the highest performing workers keep a balance between personal and professional and still are involved among social activities.

8. Workers who care about self-growth perform better

9. When the leadership style is customized for the individual workers, than workers perform higher.

10. Praised and rewarded workers do well and are satisfied.

In addition, confronting stressors may help humans find meaning in events. For instance, my father has multiple sclerosis; he accepted and adapted to it and found meaning within it and throughout it. His strengths and virtues helped.

Motivation is studied by Positive Psychology as a strength or element of positive functioning. Creativity, one of my top five strengths, is a function of a type of motivation. More than anything, motivation is a big difference between successful and ordinary people. An unmotivated genius, versus a motivated intelligent person, makes a creative contribution. The joy from demanding activities is motivating. In regard to purpose, overcoming challenge tends to become life strength. For instance, famous autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire, thanks to his autism, although challenging, became a multi-millionaire artist. Creativity is the interaction among the innovating motivated individual, the knowledge the individual contributes to, and society responding to the contribution. For me, some of the challenges I overcame, such as an abusive childhood, eating disorders, immigration, divorce, father’s multiple sclerosis, losing housemate to 9/11, overcoming my puppy’s parvovirus, and getting fired from jobs, has made me a known counselor, coach, speaker and author about these topics.

Life purpose is the meaning and direction of one’s reality or experience and goal creation and pursuit. Quality relations and quality life are achieved through negotiation of adversities. To understand whether a political action is good or bad, it is possible to look at motivation or the motive, such as the general group/public good purposive and committed principle, versus a personal self- need.

In 2004, at age 27, after losing job motivation, I had understood that I did not function well in a structured corporate environment, because it limited my creativity and my leadership skills. I decided I had to use my psychological skills in a more entrepreneurial way, but I did not quite know how. I wanted to find my life direction and love what I did. I asked myself many self-discovery questions such as:

what I have ever dreamed of doing or being, my personal strengths, skills, natural talents, what I could teach, assist with, what I am good at or experienced at, my interests, what gives me joy, moves me, inspires me, what makes me feel great about myself, what gives me a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, and especially, what I find meaningful in my life. I asked myself what parts of my past work were the most meaningful, if I had regrets, I imagined my best friend reading a eulogy, after I died, at age one hundred and ten! I asked myself, what if I could press “restart” on my life?

What would it take for me to finally feel truly happy? I then discovered my mission to inspire and empower others to live their ultimate lifestyles! I asked myself what were my five highest values, what were my life challenges and issues and I had overcome, I asked myself what my passions were (and I know passions evolve). Additionally I asked myself what legacy I wanted to leave behind, in terms of contribution. I then created a long and short term vision, which I revise at least once a year.

It was then that I decided I was going to be a certified life, business and financial coach and I made it happen, and that eventually I was going to earn a Ph.D.

My big why to get up, even in the rainy days, to fulfill my mission, is something bigger than me that I call universe, energy, higher self or higher power, that makes my life worth living and that gives me the strength to contribute and make a difference. There are many ways how I can incorporate what I have learned about meaning and motivation into my daily work environment. One is in my coaching practice. I want each client of mine to take the signature strength (VIA) test and reflect upon it.

Another one is a reminder to make a difference by always exercising my top strengths: curiosity, creativity, humor, leadership and fairness. Another way is with my dog walking. I walk daily my dog along with a neighbor’s dog for pay. I figured I had to walk my dog anyway, so I may as well walk another dog at the same time. I provide these dogs a motivation (usually treats) to “heel,” to not bark when excited, and to leave squirrels alone. I also teach foreign languages to a few private celebrity clients. Some of them are a bit impatient and unorganized, and I do my best to motivate them to pay more attention, such as conversing about their favorite topics, or preparing their favorite foods and painting a long-term picture of how great it would be to vacation abroad, speaking the language, and adding to their talents.

I also teach and do behavioral intervention for students K-8. One of the students is severely and non verbal autistic. I practice floor time with him, so I meet him at his current developmental level, and building upon strengths. Floor time harnesses the power of the child’s motivation, following his lead. Floor time is the best for children with autism. By entering in his world, I can help him relate in meaningful ways. With him, I complete the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS). I identify the primary and secondary functions of the behavior I want to change. For instance, he bolts and he drinks water incessantly. The outcome of MAS is to assist in the identification of the motivation(s) of a specific behavior. With him, I set rewards and consequences when setting limits. Praise is always fine, if honest, specific and meaningful. Last, I host a radio show about empowering people’s lives with new and cutting-edge tools. To pick the special guest, I survey my target audience on their motivation to listen to a particular show episode live or recorded. I target their motivations when I internet market my show.

To conclude, this part of Positive Psychology reminded me the importance of continuing to practice my signature strengths, on a daily basis, to make a meaningful difference in the world, following my motivations, which are only public based.


Seligman, E., M. (2002), Authentic Happiness, The Free Press, 1-260.

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