Posts Tagged internal motivation

Change Your Life by Focusing on Internal Motivation

For many people, the start of a new year is a time for change and fresh beginnings. But before making any life change, you need to be aware of your motivation for the change. Are you trying something new because others are pressuring you to do so (external motivation)? Or are you making a life change because it’s something that will bring you great satisfaction (internal motivation)?

Internal motivation really is the key to lifelong change. When you focus on what brings you joy and satisfaction—on what makes you feel good—you’re more apt to continue the behavior. To prove my point, consider the five questions below. They prove Aristotle’s conclusion that an emotional outcome like happiness is the appropriate end … >>>


Improve Your Life with the Levels of Development

Improve Your Life

If you’re like most people, you probably want to improve your life in some way. Whether it’s improving your decision-making skills, your relationships, or your job situation, the desire for change and life improvement is an important human urge. No wonder there are so many books and websites dedicated to personal and professional growth.

In my own experience and in working with countless others, I have found that once you implement the Levels of Development into your life, change and growth are natural byproducts. That’s because the Levels of Development essentially gives you a rubric for making decisions and living your best life. It’s one of the simplest tools to use to improve your life

How is this possible? It’s … >>>


How the Levels of Development Help Us Understand Motivation


I created The Levels of Development to help people of all ages understand the difference between external motivation and internal motivation. While it’s true that technically all motivation is internal, often external factors prompt us to take action. This is the case for both adults and children. Knowing why you’re doing something is important for decision making, acting responsibly, and ultimately reducing stress.

So let’s quickly review The Levels of Development. As with any hierarchy of levels, the most advanced or highest level is placed at the top.

Levels Of Development

LEVEL D – Democracy (highest level)

  • Develops self-discipline
  • Demonstrates initiative
  • Displays responsibility
  • Does good because it is the right thing to do
  • The motivation is INTERNAL.

LEVEL C – … >>>


The Stress-Fee Way to Motivate Students and Children

Teachers and parents are always looking for ways to motivate students and children. Whether it’s inspiring them to do their homework or clean their rooms, adults try many different techniques to get the youth to comply.

Unfortunately, many adults use external motivators at school and at home. These include telling young people what to do, threatening and punishing them, and rewarding them for things that they should do. These approaches do little to motivate students and children. Rather, they teach young people OBEDIENCE. The shortcomings of obedience appear when teachers and parents are not around to use these EXTERNAL motivators.

I created the Levels of Development to help teachers and parents focus on internal motivation. This is important because internal … >>>


Both Internal and External Motivation are Part of Life

Image of street signs saying Internal and External

When it comes to motivation, many people believe that internal motivation is the only one that’s important. That’s not necessarily true. Both types help us live our life to the fullest.

The Levels of Development highlights both internal and external motivation. And it’s important to realize that we live our lives on all levels of the Levels of Development.

Rich Lowry, in his book “Lincoln Unbound” (2013), states that some people convinced Lincoln to run for the Illinois state legislature in 1832. He was just 23 at the time. This was certainly external motivation. I had similar experiences when a colleague suggested I become a high school principal. (At the time, I already had served as a high school assistant … >>>


Understanding Internal Motivation and Feelings

image of a man with emotion symbols

Very often, people don’t fully understand why they do or think things. Are thoughts, feelings, and actions driven by internal motivation or external motivation?

Let’s look at feelings and how internal and external factors affect them. Most people have a hard time untangling the sources of various positive and negative feelings and are prone to misunderstand their causes. In a classic demonstration of this, the current day’s weather affected how people being interviewed rated how well their entire life had been up to that point. They were more likely to characterize their whole existence as sunny when the weather was nice. Conscious awareness of this reaction, however, brought about an immediate change. When the interviewers called attention to the weather … >>>


Aim for Responsibility, Not Obedience

The mindset of current educational approaches regarding student behavior focuses unfortunately on obedience, the source too often of reluctance, resistance, resentment, and even rebellion. Simply stated, OBEDIENCE DOES NOT CREATE DESIRE. However, when the focus is on promoting responsibility, obedience follows as a natural by-product.

The reason is that motivation to be responsible requires a DESIRE to do so. The motivation must be INTERNAL. Many schools use EXTERNAL motivation in the form of rewards, threats, and punishments. However, these approaches (a) foster compliance rather than commitment, (b) require an adult presence for monitoring, (c) set up students to be dependent upon external agents, and (d) do not foster long-term motivation for responsibility.

In addition, when students start collecting rewards—as in … >>>


Problems with Behaviorism

People sometimes ask me if I’m a behaviorist. I’m not.

Behaviorism usually refers to approaches of Pavlov (classical conditioning of stimulus/response) and Skinner (behavior modification by reinforcing behavior AFTER an act occurs).

Behavior modification is popular in schools, especially with special education specialists. Unfortunately, MANY RESEARCH STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THE APPROACH TO BE INEFFECTIVE. However, its staying power is attested to by an increasing number of states mandating that schools use “positive behavior support” that is based on a behavior modification model.

The essence of behavior modification is to REWARD DESIRED BEHAVIOR AND IGNORE UNDESIRED BEHAVIOR. The fact that inappropriate behavior is ignored can send the message that nothing is wrong with the behavior, and so there may be little … >>>


Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports vs. Internal Motivation

Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) is based on external motivation. It asks adults to find some behavior that they wish young people to do and then rewards them for doing it. The theory is that, if a reward is given, the person will repeat what the addult desires. In essence, the purpose is to use rewards to control behavior.

The concept of behaviorism originated with Ivan Pavlov and is referred to as classical conditioning. Ring a bell and give a dog food. Soon you can just ring a bell and the dog will salivate. Pavlov did not experiment with a cat. Cats are much more independent. B.F. Skinner, the famed former psychologist, used this approach to train pigeons and … >>>


Discipline and the Raise Responsibility System

In the Raise Responsibility System, we speak of Levels of Behavior, with Levels C and D being the two highest. The main difference between the two lies in the difference in motivation. While an action at Level C and D can look identical, it is the difference in the MOTIVATION that identifies one person’s action as being at Level C and another person’s as being at Level D. When your students are acting at either level, discipline issues are greatly diminished.

Here is an example to clarify the difference in the two levels:

Students at Level C do home assignments, but only after being reminded by a parent. At Level D, students complete home assignments simply because they know that … >>>


Developing Effectiveness in Students

When I present to a school or school district, or when my In-House Seminar Package is purchased, the client receives a 100-page Resource Guide. In it, I share one of my favorite stories. I share it with you here.

Nicolo Paganini (1782-1840) is still considered one of the greatest violinists of all time. One day, as he was about to perform before a sold-out house, he walked out on stage to a huge ovation but felt that something was terribly wrong.

Suddenly he realized that he had someone else’s violin in his hand. Horrified, but knowing that his only prudent choice was to begin, he started playing.

That day he gave the performance of his life.

After the concert, Paganini … >>>


Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – December 2014

Volume 14 Number 12


  1. Welcome
  2. Promoting Responsibility
  3. Increasing Effectiveness
  4. Improving Relationships
  5. Promoting Learning
  6. Parenting
  7. Discipline without Stress (DWS)
  8. Reviews and Testimonials 




My moods are my responsibility.

(Remember that the ONLY way to change an emotion is to redirect your thinking. Emotion ALWAYS follows cognition.)


External motivators unfortunately are used extensively in schools and homes. These include telling young people what to do, threatening and punishing them, and rewarding them for things that they should do. These approaches teach young people OBEDIENCE. The shortcomings of obedience appear when teachers and parents are not around to use these EXTERNAL motivators.

The “Raise Responsibility System” focuses on internal motivation, which builds the vision

>>> READ MORE >>>

Discipline and Toddlers

Many parents and caregivers who work with toddlers (children age two to three) often wonder how the Discipline Without Stress methodology can work for them. Since young children cannot understand the concept of internal motivation, which is key in the Discipline Without Stress approach, parents and caregivers think they have no choice but to resort to rewards and punishments in order for the youth to learn appropriate/inappropriate behavior.

The fact is that you can teach children as young as age one or two appropriate behavior without using rewards or punishments. Here are a few techniques:

  • When the child does something that is not appropriate, lightly touch his or her wrist and move your head sideways (in a “no” “no” motion).
>>> READ MORE >>>

Success and Positivity

Human nature is based on a deficit model—to fix what is wrong. In a very real sense, our attention is geared at fixing others.

For example, after a meeting with teachers, the student said to his mother, “Why didn’t they talk more about my social studies—what I am good at instead of what I am not good at? All they want to do is fix what is wrong with me.”

The mother responded by saying, “They are trying to help you.”

The student retorted, “No, they are trying to fix me.”

Such are the perceptions of the parent and child. What should it be for the teacher? The answer lies in the question, “What optimizes learning?”

Great teachers know that … >>>


Common Core Losing Support Among California Voters

According to the annual PACE/USC Rossier School of Education poll, which questioned more than 1,000 California voters, residents of the state are having second thoughts about the Common Core State Standards.

The poll revealed that only 32 percent of respondents supported the implementation of the Common Core Standards, while 42 percent opposed it. What’s interesting is that these numbers are a complete reversal from last year’s findings, showing that voters are changing their minds about the validity of the Common Core Standards.

As we’ve all heard, the Common Core Standards set expectations for deeper learning by grade level; however, as I’ve written extensively in my blogs, mandating learning objectives nationwide is not the way to improve student performance. If students … >>>


Curiosity: A strategy for encouraging students to attend

When I was in high school I had an English teacher who used a very simple strategy to interest and motivate students.  It didn’t take much time or effort on his part and was just a simple thing, but it was enough to get me to want to attend his class every single day.  What did he do?  He simply put up a new thought-provoking quote, in large letters, in the same place, on the same side chalkboard every day.

He never referred to the quote. (I suspect that intuitively he knew that doing so might produce counterwill.) He never asked our opinions or started a discussion and most often the quote was not related in the least to … >>>


Discipline and Competition

Getting children to do what you want them to do can be a struggle. And when the struggle gets too stressful, many parents resort to discipline, either by imposing punishments (“If you don’t clean up this mess you’re going into timeout”) or by offering a reward (“If you clean your room we can go out for ice cream”). However, these external motivators are nothing more than coercive tactics that do little help children develop the internal motivation to want to do something.

Rather than disciplining the child to force compliance, try turning the situation into a competition, which will spark the child’s internal motivation to win. For example:

  • Instead of: “If you don’t clean your room you’re going into timeout.”
>>> READ MORE >>>

Motivation and Discipline

One of the goals of discipline is to instill in students the motivation to be responsible and to do what they need to do. Following are three ways to foster the internal motivation that leads to lasting self-discipline.

1. Create curiosity: Curiosity is perhaps the greatest of all motivators. Here is the difference between American and Japanese styles of teaching: In Japanese schools, students are immediately introduced to a problem or challenge. They grapple with it. Curiosity is naturally engendered. By contrast, in American schools the main idea(s) are presented, the solution is taught, and then students practice. Where is the curiosity engendered using this approach?

2. Create desire: Students are constantly asking themselves, “What’s In It For Me?” Since … >>>