She is beautiful, intelligent, very hard-working, and has been successful at everything she has ever set her mind to. She comes with the grit and determination that most employers would die for and… oh, did I mention she also has skills that puts her in the top echelon in her chosen field?

Meet my partner Sharon.

Now, before you jump to conclusions about my intentions for writing such an introduction (honey I am sorry about not doing the dishes, honestly), allow me to explain.

Personal circumstances have required Sharon and I to pack up our lives from the rat-race of Sydney, a city neither of us were born in, and move to the other side of Australia – the city of Perth, famous for driving the higher of the two-speed economy that many an economic scribe and politician in Australia continually reference. For her this is a return to where she grew up and her family still lives. For me, having only ever been to Perth on business or when visiting Sharon’s family, it is a new and exciting adventure.

Our belongings made the very direct route to Perth, however we took the opportunity to take the longer, more scenic route, via Brazil. I will make you jealous about that another day.

Of course, I have the security of knowing that I will have a role to start the minute I get to Perth in early November. The confidence that comes with this solid ground in what would otherwise be a foreign situation is comforting, and I am really looking forward to it.

Sharon too has been excited, however as the time has drifted closer, I could sense that something was playing on her mind. A quick conversation revealed feelings of discomfort about not knowing what her next role would be. Re-assurances flowed….

“Everything will be just fine, we will have an income, take as much time as you need to find your next role, Just take the time to relax, everything will be fine”, I have been saying. Somehow, my words weren’t hitting the mark.

In between the Capoeira and Caipirinha’s whilst in Brazil, I have been doing A LOT of reading, and it was whilst reading about the topic of motivation that I started to fully appreciate Sharon’s perspective.

It wasn’t about the money, it was about her need to feel sufficiently energised from that feeling of achieving something. It was about satisfying her unrelenting desire to make a contribution.

And then it occurred to me. Some people are simply self-driven and self-motivated, it is part of their core makeup. In fact I would feel exactly the same if the situation were reversed. As long as I have known her, she has been the hardest worker amongst her peers, and even the accolades from senior management wouldn’t see her rest easy. She didn’t need ‘managing’, she just required leadership and direction – she took responsibility for her own motivation and kept herself switched on.

As a person who has hired many people and led organisations that have experienced rapid growth, I couldn’t help but think about how closely her work qualities and attitudes matched up to those I look for in a work colleague/team member. This secret sauce that even Colonel Saunders would be jealous of is often the difference between a company that succeeds, and one that struggles. Individuals really can make that much difference – imagine if a company was able to assemble a number of like-minded people who can bring themselves to work?

If I can for a moment quote the late American businessman Jim Rohn: The best motivation is self-motivation. The guy says, I wish someone would come by and turn me on. What if they don’t show up? You’ve got to have a better plan for your life than that”.

Jim, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The moral to this story is simple – smart leaders already know that a company is only as good as its people. Hire the right people and the road ahead is significantly smoother, enjoyable and more successful. Hire the wrong people and… well I will go into that another time.

However, if a company can attract and retain self-motivated people, the benefits are significant. If you are in a position involved with hiring future team-members, will your recruitment processes allow you to differentiate between talent, and motivated talent?

Jason Buchanan – General Manager – Insights & Innovation



3 Replies to “Motivation Will Almost Always Beat Mere Talent”

October 7, 2012

Interesting read and good points. I recognise Sharon’s characteristics as my own. As a final year business management student
who has just returned to university after a challenging internship where I was allowed to work independently with only the minimum of guidance, I can’t wait to graduate and start working again!

Jason Buchanan
October 7, 2012

Hi Rita, thanks for taking the time to reply. I encourage you to keep that attitude when the time comes to venture into full-time employment. It is something that all good employers will cherish.

Candice Heapes
October 7, 2012

Great article Jason – thank you. I was asked today “what am I looking for in my next role”. You have helped me articulate my answer – I just want to satisfy an unrelenting desire to make a contribution.

Thank you

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