TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR SUCCESS—AND FAILURE
Motivation comes in two basic forms: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is supplied by rewards--prizes, cash, jobs, praise, salaries, attention---that other people provide. Rewards fuel our interest in today’s goals, but they don’t do much for next week. They also undermine the long-term drive for improvement that is critical for outstanding performance.
By contrast, intrinsic motivation is a feeling from inside that we want to progress for the sake of our own wellbeing. This inner drive encourages us to master skills through hard work, set and achieve goals, overcome tough moments, and focus on personal growth. These are good traits to develop no matter what we do in life, on horseback or off.
Intrinsic motivation is often seen as an inborn trait, one that some people have and others don’t. When you see an impassioned rider working at her craft day after day, you might assume that she came out of the womb with a burning desire to achieve. And to some extent it is true that mental impulsion varies with personality and genetics. But for every rare equestrian whose passion is a force of nature, there are hundreds of thousands who grow their own zeal. Drive is stimulated or stifled through daily experiences---the way others respond to our successes and failures, the guidance our trainers offer during lessons, our approach to solving problems, internal beliefs about our own competence. These factors make the difference between the rider who challenges herself at every turn and the saddle potato who only daydreams about being an Olympic contender.
How can you offer yourself the kind of feedback that sparks inner motivation? One way is to encourage the sense that you control your outcomes. If you can get a jittery retired racehorse to plod across a wooden bridge, recognize that you did something to cause that outcome. It didn’t happen because you wished hard, or because you were lucky, or because the horse suddenly changed her mind about loud, hollow footing. It happened because of you. And if you think of it in that way, your inner motivation will increase.