This is a great quote from a recent EYF post that serves as a good point of departure for discussing motivation: “Accuracy and precision in language are necessary for the intelligent analysis of data that CrossFit is based upon. As CrossFitters, we should insist upon using correct terminology where it exists, and creating it where it doesn’t.” I find this statement to be true, but I also find it to be applicable to the aspects of motivation that involve the usage of language as well.
I continue by selecting what I have found to be a useful definition of motivation according to dictionary.com: To Motivate: to provide with a motive. Motive: An emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement (to incite: to provoke or urge on) to action. If our goal is to become better at at any endeavor (such as CrossFit), I submit that having an effective source of motivation is important for achieving this goal.
My first, and most important contention regarding motivation is this: improving one's internal sources of motivation are more important than improving one's external sources of motivation. Here's why: the conditions in which we are expected to function, in any endeavor, may change. Therefore, whatever our impulse to action (motivation) towards any end in life may be, if we desire to continuously be able to succeed at this act regardless of circumstance we need to be able take this motivation with us wherever we go (intrinsic motivation), without requirement for any additional external mental or physical condition (extrinsic motivation). Note that I have not made any claims as to which source of motivation is more effective, extrinsic or intrinsic. That is a worthy discussion for another time. I only assert that the development of internal motivations is more important, because of its transferability.
About 3 weeks back, I heard someone tell another athlete in a workout “Hurry up, you’re going fucking slow.” with the apparent intention of motivating them (although I concede I could be wrong on this. It may have been simply a true statement of fact. However, assuming that motivation was the intention, I continue.) This may very well have motivated that athlete, but it wouldn't have motivated me. It reminded me of the incessant droning from drill instructors during basic training, of which after a few days no one can take as a point of serious motivation. At a different point, I heard an address to all the athletes: “Let’s go you guys! How do you want to remember this workout – that you were a pussy or a total badass?” Again, perhaps some athletes did derive motivation from this expression, but again speaking personally, I myself did not. From a functional standpoint, I never use the words “pussy” or “badass” so it was hard for me at first to relate to their intended meaning. Further, even from the standpoint of the intended meaning, I am not personally able to motivate myself by considering how I might remember myself during a particular workout; my own motivations come from other sources. And so, I am brought to my next point. Any source of external motivation, used in a group setting, should have two traits in order to be optimally effective: utilitarianism (affects the greatest performance for the greatest number of people), and the promotion of individual intrinsic motivation (which as mentioned, I believe to be the most important part).
I would like to challenge the “extrinsic motivation paradigm” (if we can create such an idea) to focus more on the development of intrinsic motivation for the purposes already described – the most effective preparation for an unforeseeable future. Let's get rid of music one day during a 20 minute AMRAP, so that we depend not on the beat of the music but the drive of our mind to fuel our performance. Another way we can pursue intrinsic motivation by means of an extrinsic source is to have the question be posed-
Why are you here?
-to be answered only to ourselves in our minds, because a simple reiteration to ourselves of our purpose for doing a CrossFit workout (or any other endeavor in life) will keep our mind focused on just that: the real reason we are there – which as I mentioned, is dependent upon the individual. Lastly, let's replace the commonly-heard phrase “Remember the number one rule of [insert box here] – don't be a pussy!” with the more universal, functional, and intrinsically-rooted admonition, “Give me your best.” Can we really ask for more than that?