A recent study suggests that internal motivation matters more than any potential external rewards in staying motivated and engaged for the long haul.

West Point attendees were asked to evaluate their motives, both internal and external.  Ironically, those with only internal motivation (vs. a combination of internal and external motivation) did better in school and were more likely to stay in the profession after five years.  Ironically, they also earned more than their colleagues for whom external rewards/recognition was a part of their motivation.

Turns out the rational idea that a combination of both internal motivation and external rewards is not nearly as effective as “pure” internal motivation.  Commitment to work based on love of the activity or service on behalf of an ideal is far more effective in the long haul.

This has important implications for parents, teachers, counselors, managers, legislators, policy wonks, recruiters and coaches of all kinds.

In recent years I have started to notice a backlash against Joseph Campbell’s “Follow Your Bliss” dictum and “Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow”.

Once more, there’s more evidence that people need to be connected to what they love and their own internal values in order to enjoy the success we all deserve.

May we pursue our own unique paths, motivated by our own unique internal values,

Best wishes,

Elizabeth