Motivation Vs. Inspiration

Abundance Purpose


Key Point: There is a difference between motivating and inspiring others. Both are important, and live together as “cousins,” but they are very different. Ideally, leaders are capable of intentionally delivering both. What’s the difference between motivation and inspiration? 

The late “self improvement” guru, Dr. Wayne Dyer, noted the difference in the following way: “It is very hard to enroll people in anything. And there is a very big difference between the words motivate and inspire. Motivation means we have an idea and we are going to carry through on that idea. We work hard at it, and we are disciplined. A highly motivated person takes an idea, goes out there, and won’t let anybody interfere with them. Inspiration is exactly the opposite. If motivation is when you get hold of an idea and carry it through to its conclusion, inspiration the reverse. An idea gets hold of you and carries you where you are intended to go… The word inspired comes from being in spirit, accessing a force out there. Patanjali said when you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations. Your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, wonderful world. Patanjali also said dormant forces, faculties, and talents – things you thought were inaccessible and unavailable to you – come alive when you are inspired. You discover yourself to be a far greater person than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” 

Hmmm that’s a very interesting way of differentiating. It’s one thing to get hold of an idea and drive it, and another to have an idea get hold and drive you. 

Dyer goes on to say: “When you are connected in that way, (driven by an idea that’s got hold of you) everyone around you is inspired. What it takes to reach this place I’m speaking about is to be in spirit. You shift who you are away from what you have, what you do, what your reputation is, what people think of you, and all of that ego-based thinking… So, it’s really about modeling it and letting people know you are an inspired person, a person who is in spirit, and then those forces begin to show up and, lo and behold, the universe provides for you.” 

Character Moves: 

  1. As a leader, it is important to motivate. I think that happens when people feel compelled to contribute to achieving a desired future state they personally and emotionally connect with. Ideally, people feel motivated by the joy of winning versus the fear of losing. Create a vision that is highly motivational for people. They want to be part of achieving positive milestones. 
  1. Inspire by modeling when you’re truly captured by an idea or desired future state. When an idea gets a hold of you, a push (motivation) becomes a pull (inspiration).  Nothing is more inspirational than being around one who is pulled by an idea. If you’re inspired, getting out of bed in the morning is rarely (if ever) a push. It is a compelling pull that puts a spring in your step. When that idea pulls you forward, you are an Inspiration more than a motivator.
  1. Both motivation and inspiration are important and work well together. However, discovering that idea that pulls you forward is a bigger thought. As Dyer notes: You then become a person in spirit or flow.

More Inspiration in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: It seems like you can go to any conference room at a downtown Marriot and you’ll probably happen upon a motivational speaker of some sort. Finding a truly “inspirational speaker” would be more challenging. Still, we can all probably think of a few candidates that would inspire us. If we can determine what makes them pull us forward, maybe that’s the foundation we can build from to figure out how to pull others too. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis