Here’s a test for you. Picture yourself standing between two doors. The sign on door # 1 reads:
- Studying is no longer stressful and you don’t feel swamped with all the reading, briefing, outlining, moot court, and other law school activities.
- You look forward to the Socratic method questioning in class.
- You never leave the classroom confused and discouraged.
- You don’t have to spend more money on yet another study aid only to discover that there is no time to read it.
- You receive regular supportive feedback on your progress.
- You feel calm and confident before an exam.
The sign on door #2 reads:
- Learning is fun.
- You are in control of your studies and even have time to relax and catch up with your friends.
- You finally know what it means to think like a lawyer.
- You are able to spot the issues and recall relevant information easily under the pressure.
- You can learn better and ignite your creativity by collaborating and playing games with your classmates.
- You are motivated to do your best and succeed every day.
Where do you go? Do you find that one sign resonates more with you than the other? Are you drawn towards “peace of mind” or “excitement”?
According to the authors of NLP: The New Technology of Achievement, we can be motivated either “toward” what we want or “away from” what we don’t want. People use both motivation directions but they can prefer one over the other. Some people are more motivated by images of accomplishments, success, pleasure, while others are more motivated by avoidance of loss, pain, fear, failure. Both types of motivation can be effective. The “toward” motivation tends to be more goal-oriented while the “away” motivation is more about identifying and solving problems. It is useful to know your motivation direction if you want to motivate yourself deliberately, and you may have more success motivation others if you can figure out how their motivation works. Since lawyers are good at identifying problems, I wonder if a larger percentage of them prefers the “away from” motivation. Understandably, the language people use can sometimes tell us about their preferred motivation direction. Next time you talk to somebody about why they want to do something, listen in.