Have you ever tried motivating others but had trouble doing so? Most of us have experienced the same difficulty.  Maybe I can help you figure out why that happens.

A few years ago, as I was starting a management career, I found it surprisingly challenging to motivate others.  Having a position of power wasn’t enough.  I found it so frustrating that I decided to do a non-statistical study and write a short paper on my findings.  The results wouldn’t be ground-breaking today, but 40 years ago it was like Edison’s light bulb had been switched on the first time in a darkened room.

Basically what follows is a tip that may help you change your tactics and experience greater success. The first thing is to understand and accept that you can't motivate someone else. People don't motivate other people, but they can inspire others to achieve great things.

There is one thing that can motivate someone, and that is an idea that results in a personal inspiration. A book doesn't motivate, but the ideas in it certainly can. Money doesn't motivate either.  Many surveys and studies still show that in most cases, money doesn’t even get into the top five things that inspire and motivate.  It is the idea of what can be done with the money that is the motivator.

So, if we want to motivate other people to do certain things, we need to present them with the ideas that will inspire them to action. And, we need to do it as vividly as possible. Paint a picture for them of the benefits they, not you, will receive from taking the appropriate actions.  They need to be able to visualize what’s in it for them so they see personal value in achieving a shared or personal goal.

Maybe it is just a good feeling that they will receive from the end result. Describe that feeling and get them to visualize why they will love feeling it. Maybe it is a specific accomplishment. Describe how accomplishing it will make their lives better.  The key point is that what seems like a good idea to us may not ring someone else's bell.

The secret to motivating others is to find out what matters to them and build it into your idea. Top sales people know this and use it constantly. They don't sell products or services, they sell ideas. You can too.