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French FriesIn a recent online column for Fast Company, motivation expert Susan Fowler uses the metaphor of junk food to describe the shortsighted approach some managers use when motivating their direct reports—reaching for easy motivational rewards instead of digging deeper for sustainable ones.

The result is suboptimal motivation, which characterizes three out of a possible six outlooks people can have when considering a task:

  • Disinterested (suboptimal): I’m not interested–it feels like a waste of time.
  • External (suboptimal): I’ll do it because of a promise for more money or an enhanced status or image in the eyes of others.
  • Imposed (suboptimal): I’ll do it to avoid feelings of guilt, shame, or fear from not doing it.
  • Aligned (optimal): I’ll do it because it allows me to connect the task to a significant value.
  • Integrated (optimal): I’ll do it because it allows me to link to a life or work purpose.
  • Inherent

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