Motivation: Why People Don’t Do What You Tell Them To Do ?

Today is going to be a very short blog as part of the January’s Motivation theme:

Do you know where you motivation comes from ? 

Think about how you feel when you speak to someone about a problem and the person gives advises. Do you really want to follow them ? Well most of the time the  answer is NO ! Right ?

Why is it that our first spontaneous answer is NO to advises even if the solutions offered really work ? My theory based on my observations, is that knowledge is not the issue , the issue is TO DO the things we need to do and you cannot move someone else into action.

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”

Wild Horses

So that means you can give the opportunity to someone to do something by telling some tips,  but you cannot force them to do it if they do not want to  !

Want examples ?

What about quitting smoking ? You know that it gives cancer and you can die from heart attacks. Is that stopping smokers to smoke? NO ! Why ? because for most people those reasons are not intrinsically motivating and there is no instant rewards to stop smoking, only hypothetical long-term promises that we are not going to die but  we will all die sometimes anyway!

Let me confess,  I smoked for years but quit cold turkey when I was pregnant and never smoked again, I cannot even stand the smell of smoke around me. When I started working, smoking was a great way to socialize at work at the smoking corner so that was one reason that drop when I had my son because I quit working in the corporate world at the same time. Something also might have happened during my pregnancy that made me quit for the benefit of my baby.

Hope this short example is giving you the opportunity to think about what really motivates you when you set a goal to change your life forever.

Hint: What do you SEE, FEEL, SMELL, HEAR when you think about reaching your goal ?  Visualization is a powerful tool used by athletes and successful people.

Do you want to share what works for you and get a chance to inspire others ?


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25 thoughts on “Motivation: Why People Don’t Do What You Tell Them To Do ?

  1. Mallie Dein January 11, 2012 at 11:33 am Reply

    You’re right, Anne. Change only occurs when all parties involved in the change actually understand and appreciate the benefits that will be garnered by the change, thus actively wanting the change.

  2. Fabrizio Faraco January 11, 2012 at 11:35 am Reply

    Anne motivation is the key point in everything and there’s no receipt for it. It’s an art that start from listening, feeling, smelling, hearing, tasting and VISUALISING with the others. Within the different senses that help you in cocreating the right attitude and so igniting motivation, visualization is the most powerful. It’s not a case that in strategic thinking everything start from vision. I’ve the chance to meet Steve Jobs some decades ago. He told me something I’ve learned and used for my motivation: “in order to understand what you have to do tomorrow, you have to imagine what you wanna be in 10 years”. Great post Anne, I really like it.

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach January 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm Reply

      Thanks Fabrizio ! WOW you met Steve Jobs! True not all leaders are visionary as Steve Jobs but all great leaders share a vision that inspires others. Remember JFK saying in the early 60s that an American will walk on the moon before the end of the decade…and they did it in 1969 !!!. I have sometimes to be really creative to help people find the words or pictures to describe their vision, it is often not a lack of imagination but maybe fear to have their vision becoming true if they say it:-)

  3. Wendy Orr January 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm Reply

    It really shows that we are the only ones who can motivate ourselves. When we’re ready to take a particular step we can allow others to motivate us – but we’ve got to take that first step of being rwady to listen.

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach January 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm Reply

      Agree Wendy that is why I am always very careful when talking with managers about “motivating” employees. In previous posts I collected researches demonstrating that too much rewards can actually demotivate people. See “Carrots worst than sticks” ?

  4. Sherrie Glensky January 11, 2012 at 10:50 pm Reply

    Short and sweet and right on! Nice job.

  5. Kittie Walker January 12, 2012 at 7:27 am Reply

    Self-motivation is one of the most important traits in life. Sometimes you are lucky and the good stuff comes to you but 95% of the time you have to motivate yourself to achieve what you want to.

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach January 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm Reply

      Thank you Kittie, I agree with your comment I even think there is no luck, you have to go out there to create circumstances for luck to work . “no pain no gain”

  6. Gemma January 12, 2012 at 7:38 am Reply

    I believe that sometimes people need to make mistakes to allow them to change their lives. This is probably part of the reason why giving advise doesn’t work. However in the context of business I don’t know if the theory still stands.

    Great post 🙂

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach January 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm Reply

      Hi Gemma, that is so true we learn more from our mistakes than our successes in business too. Highly innovative products were failures for other purposes. For example 3M invented the Post-it with a glue that don’t stick permanently in search for a super glue !

  7. Alex Marie January 12, 2012 at 10:32 am Reply

    Anne, Great post! I often let myself get so frustrated when a friend asks for advice and never takes it, but what you are saying makes total sense. It has to resonate with them, not me.

  8. Natasha Crawford (@NatashaCrawford) January 12, 2012 at 10:57 am Reply

    Great post.

    As a teacher and health coach, this is something that I have to constantly remember. Students who should be acing my class fail, because the motivation to do the work is not there. Clients who know what to do to make positive changes in their lives don’t, because the motivation isn’t there. I can talk until I’m blue in the face, unless the mindset of the other person changes, my hands are tied. Also, too many folks are waiting for motivation to wash over them, like some magical mist, instead of making a decision to do what’s in their best interest (and sticking to it).

    It used to frustrate me A LOT. Not so much any more. When they are ready, so am I.

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach January 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm Reply

      Thank you Natasha. I understand very well what you are talking about. Coaches, teachers, parents, managers, mentors, or spiritual leaders we all have moments of frustration I guess as we are passionate by our mission to transfer knowledge and guide others to grow, but we also have such great rewards to witness wonderful people transformations.

  9. Keri Jaehnig (@connectyou) January 13, 2012 at 1:31 am Reply


    Great reminder – We must always remember to push our envelopes. There is always something more. We can achieve.

    Congratulations on quitting smoking!


    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach January 13, 2012 at 4:44 pm Reply

      Hi Keri Thanks for your comment. There is also one thing about self-motivation, it is the excitement and pride of having done things your way, especially when advice givers are wrong 🙂

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  13. […] Motivation: Why People Don’t Do What You Tell Them To Do ? […]

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