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Inside You: The Power and Theory of Intrinsic Motivation

Video: Top life coach and Power and Success Ministries founder Ellard Thomas delivers an impactful motivational message about intrinsic motivation. If you're looking to get motivated and achieve a better life, watch this and share it now! And if you want to know more about intrinsic motivation and how it can help you progress professionally and personally, be sure to read the article following the video.

One of my favorite inspirational movies that reveals the power and theory of intrinsic motivation is Barry Gordy’s 1985 hit The Last Dragon. Although it’s decades later, I find myself entering a child-like state whenever I watch it.

Here’s a brief summary:

Action star Taimak plays Leroy Green, a young martial artist who trains tirelessly to attain the same level of Mastery as superstar Bruce Lee.

In his quest to achieve this higher level, he later finds himself facing the movie’s antagonist Sho’nuff—the self-proclaimed greatest martial artist in Harlem. Sho’nuff feels that Leroy Green stands in the way of him and martial art supremacy.

Following a few heinous acts by Sho’nuff and his goons, Leroy realizes that he must face this adversary. So he does…

The fight is intense. Yet, things turn for the worse for Leroy—suffering multiple bruises and nearing defeat.

During their fight, Sho’nuff asks the exhausted Leroy, “Who’s the master?” and then immerse his head in a barrel of water. Leroy says nothing. Upon each question and dunk, Leroy undergoes a series of visions about himself (a path to intrinsic motivation). And following the third and final dunk, an agitated Sho’nuff asks, “Who’s the master?” Leroy confidently responds, “I am.” The transfer of domination occurs...

We all have, what I call, the Leroy Green syndrome. Throughout out our lives, we walk paths trying to discover the answer to “who’s the master” of our lives. For some reason, we always look outside of ourselves (extrinsic), and never within (intrinsic).

Fortunately, and as well as unfortunately, we don’t realize who we truly are until we’re up against the Sho’nuffs of the world, of our relationships, of our decisions and of our thoughts.

Well, you don’t have to wait until you’re faced against hardship or obstacles—or Sho’nuffs— to find that you are the key to your own success—the answer to your destiny—the response to adverse circumstances.

Within you is everything you need, and together during this time together, you’ll have the power needed to attain and act upon this belief--by understanding Intrinsic Motivation.

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What is Intrinsic Motivation?

Recently, I had come across few articles that define what intrinsic motivation is. According to one medium, “intrinsic motivation is to be motivated by internal factors, such as the enjoyment of the activity…it is the key to self-determination theory, which argues that human behavior is driven by a desire to grow and achieve fulfillment…intrinsic motivation is thus characterized by self-determination rather than pressure, obligation, or restraint. People driven primarily by intrinsic motivators are considered more self-determined that people driven by extrinsic ones.”

Did you understand this definition? If so, great. If not, then here’s another definition by Ryan and Deci. “Intrinsic motivation is defined as the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfaction rather than some separable consequence. When intrinsically motivated, a person is moved to act for the fun or challenged entailed rather than because of external products, pressures, or rewards.”

Okay, those are two great definitions, but I’d like to make it simpler and easier to comprehensively digest. Essentially, intrinsic motivation is your internal WHY—the reason you get up and face the world—the reason you look forward to every day—the reason you’re willing to undertake the responsibilities of your dreams in life. Some might even call it “the response to one’s purpose or calling.”

So, what excites you? What moves you to achieve your dreams?

Within each of us is a reason, or a 'why' to help us advance in life. We're all wired to pursue greater—to dare the impossible without any outside factors. It’s how God made us.

John 14:12 (NKJV) says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he (and she) will do also; and greater works than these he will do…”

Can you see how much power you have inside? If you're motivated, you can change destinies, situations, and create unimaginable realities. By leveraging intrinsic motivation, you are unstoppable.

Unfortunately, many people struggle with leveraging intrinsic motivation. Rather than live life, they merely exist. Here’s why.

7 Reasons Why People Lack Intrinsic Motivation

In some instances, it’s completely normal to drag your feet when you’re presented with a menial or unfulfilling task to complete. Yet, if you lack intrinsic motivation, you may have a bigger issue. Perhaps one of your issues is revealed in the following list.

Reason 1: You Lack a Strong Why

If intrinsic motivation is an internal job, then if you’re not motivated, then there’s a conflict between you and the task before you. For some reason the challenge of the goal doesn’t fulfill you.

Reason 2: You Feel Overwhelmed

It’s interesting how a single goal or task has the power to overwhelm people. If you find yourself constantly sighing or huffing when you think about the goal you need to achieve, then that’s a problem. I say this because the definition of being overwhelmed is, “to be buried or drowned beneath a huge mass, or to be defeated completely.”

I’m not sure about you, but this isn’t a feeling I’d like to have. I’m getting bogged down just by the definition.

Reason 3: You Lack Personal Belief

I can give you a list of powerful adjectives about who you are, along with the scriptures to support them. Yet, they might not matter because you may not believe in yourself.

A big part of intrinsic motivation is how good you feel about yourself. If you don’t feel good about who you are, then you may never achieve the life you ultimately want. You don't want that, do you?

Reason 4: You are Too Exhausted

Individuals who have intrinsic motivation find ways to be energized. They eat right. They rest. They implement balance. If you find yourself constantly exhausted, then you may need to implement some life changes. Get rest. Change your diet. Do what you need to get energized!

Reason 5: You’re Dominated by Fear

Fear is a crippling entity, only if we let it stand in our way. According to 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and a sound mind.”

If God hasn’t given us fear, then where did your fear come from? More than likely it has been adopted somewhere in your past. And like a parent, you’ve nurtured it to its current strength.

Reason 6: You’re Controlled by Distractions

Do you know what rubbernecking is? You might be doing this without even knowing it.

Rubbernecking is to “turn one’s head to stare at something in a foolish manner.” A good friend of mine works for a particular police department. She said, “Rubbernecking causes more wreckage than accidents by far.”

So, you might not find yourself staring foolishly at a car accident, but you’re probably rubbernecking in a different way. If you’re turning your head towards your social media posts, cellphone texts and unproductive conversations, then you’re rubbernecking. For some reason, you’re placing more attention on unimportant and unproductive activities than what you should be focusing on.

Reason 6: Lack Dreams or Purpose

People with intrinsic motivation have dreams; they know their purpose. There’s something driving them internally. They love life beyond inevitable circumstances and adversity.

If you find your lacking intrinsic motivation, you might not have a dream or a defined purpose. And if this is the case, ask this question: why not?

During your creation, God put dreams and purpose in you. Thus, it's not that you lack dreams or purpose, it's that you haven't discovered them yet.

Reason 7: You’re Comfortable with Complacency

The late great and powerful Benjamin E. Mays once stated, “The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.”

For a person who leans on intrinsic motivation to thrive in life, complacency is an enemy—a defilement to personal and professional achievement. If you’re struggling with complacency, or have embraced its warmth, then it’s important to break this attachment before it’s too late.

5 Intrinsic Motivation Examples You Might Already Do

Believe it or not, you might have experienced intrinsic motivation unintentionally throughout your entire life. Some examples of intrinsic motivation are:

· Participating in a sport or activity because it’s fun rather than playing for an award;

· Learning a new language because you enjoy learning new things, not because it was a requirement;

· Spending time with someone because you enjoy being with them and not because they can advance your social position;

· Cleaning up the house because you enjoy a tidy home rather doing it to get your spouse off your back;

· Exercising because you enjoy physically challenging your body rather than doing it to lose weight or to achieve a certain look;

· Playing chess because you like challenging your mind and enjoy creating strategies;

· Taking time to volunteer because you enjoy giving back instead of advancing your career or social status;

· Going on a run because it relaxes you and not to achieve a certain time;

· Choosing to take more responsibility at work to feel challenged and accomplished, instead of seeking rewards or promotions;

· Reading books because you enjoy doing so, rather than doing it for a class or obligation;

The list of intrinsic motivation examples isn’t exhaustive, but I’m sure you can recall moments where you were practicing intrinsic motivation without even knowing it. Now, the goal moving forward is to operate this way automatically.

4 Benefits of Intrinsic Motivation

While there appear to be constant debates over how many types of motivation exists, intrinsic motivation is universally accepted. If you’re wondering if there are any advantages or benefits to intrinsic motivation, let the following reasons act as answers.

Benefit 1: Intrinsic motivation leads to greater persistence

When intrinsic motivation is high, you find yourself wanting to complete a specific task or activity. When you enjoy a challenge get also see obstacles as opportunities. And as a result, you do not become fearful or jaded by what you’re doing.

Benefit 2: Intrinsic motivation increases engagement

People with intrinsic motives have three times the engagement with others and achieve more in life because engagement is a pleasure. They do not build relationships simply for what they can get from someone else.

Benefit 3: Intrinsic motivation increases learning effectiveness

Individuals with intrinsic motivation find learning fun, no matter how challenging. They enjoy that they’re developing their minds in new and challenging ways. Most people do not like learning new things because there’s an extrinsic or external factor tied with it. Thus, learning is imposed or forced rather than enjoyed.

Benefit 4: Intrinsic motivation increases overall success

People who are fueled by life, will achieve greater success because success itself isn’t the focus. It’s about the love of the challenge and the enjoyment of developing themselves. The outcomes then are seen within the world: best-selling authors, top-not CEOs, world-renown speakers, highly respected educators and top-performing athletes.

5 Ways to Increase Intrinsic Motivation Starting Today

It has been proven that our performance is only as great as our motivation. The less inspired we are, the less likely we are to excel in anything we do. Even when you’re in a toxic, un-motivating environment, it’s your duty to be your own inspiration.

If you’re looking for ways to increase intrinsic motivation, simply follow these five steps.

Step 1: List all your favorite things and activities

Once you’ve gathered all your go-to hobbies, books or activities, you have a list of “happy” things to select from. Therefore, you have no excuse to be idle, bored, or uninspired. Before you get overwhelmed, and I do use that term lightly, start with the one you like most.

Step 2: Learn to take breaks

Even if you love what you do, and are happy doing it, it’s important that you take a break. Although you may be motivated to keep going, it’s easy to reach fatigue if you’re not taking breaks. Enjoy the moments when you’re just relaxing.

Step 3: Reminisce on positive past moments

Normally, I’d recommend against dabbling in the past, but sometimes it’s okay. I say this because you’ve made great strides in the past, and were extremely motivated when you did. Recapture that mindset and that feeling. Use it today to re-spark that internal flame.

Step 4: Volunteer in community events

There’s so many activities happening within your community. Find one that moves you. Getting involved with local activities is a great way to boost intrinsic motivation.

Step 5: Know what you want

You want something out of life, don’t you? What is it? Success? Better health?

Whatever you want to accomplish, it has to be because you enjoy the aspect of it. You enjoy the building, the journey—and not necessarily for some external reward. Knowing what you really want influences your actions.


You were meant to enjoy life and to learn from all the obstacles therein. John 10:10 says, “…I come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Thus, to live an abundant live, you must have a purpose or a dream. It’s this dream that will help increase your intrinsic motivation.

You were not meant to live an unfulfilling and unhappy life. You were meant for so much more. Yet, to achieve this, you must work on loving yourself and enjoying the journey. Do not focus so much on the end goal. As you look within for the motivation to reach your next level, you'll have the foundation to build a much happier, fulfilling and successful life.


Defeating Goliath: 4.5/5 stars on Amazon. In this life-changing and inspiring book, Defeating Goliath gives you the strategies needed to face and overcome the challenges and obstacles that stand in the way of a happier and fulfilling life. Check it out now.

Dream Life Mastery: In this training course, learn how to overcome your obstacles and unlock the full potential of your mind. You’ll have the keys to building your Dream Life, step-by-step. Check it out here.

The Amazing You: This free presentation reveals the keys necessary to living a more powerful and greater you. Watch it now and start living your better life.


Ellard Thomas is an internationally-selling author and the founder of Power and Success Ministries—an organization that’s dedicated to helping people with living life abundantly, happily and successfully. If you need help getting motivated or overcoming obstacles, join our online community

Also, if you’d like to connect with Power and Success Ministries, like us on Facebook. You deserve a fulfilling life, and PSM is here to help you do it.


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