Years ago, I was sitting with my then 13-year-old son Collin as he did his science homework, which consisted of finding and defining key words.
I noticed that he was just looking for the definition on the pages and copying them verbatim onto his paper. He was frustrated because the definitions for some words weren’t easy to find or weren’t succinct.
I knew that wasn’t going to improve his understanding, so I intervened. “Collin, you need to learn what these words mean. Read all of the text and then explain what the word means in your own words. That way you will learn it.”
Collin looked at me with dread in his eyes.
My son Gavin, then 17, called out “Collin, it’s okay. Dad just doesn’t understand. Look up each word in the glossary and write down what it says. You’ll finish faster and get a good grade.”
In my mind, high effort was worth it because learning would help Collin do well in school.
Collin is more of an economist and assigned a value based on opportunity cost. Every minute spent on homework was a minute he couldn’t spend playing Legos, soccer, or Minecraft.
Why was I more motivated than Collin?
I perceived a high value for a low effort – V/e.
In contrast, Collin perceived low value for high effort – v/E.
Motivation equals value divided by effort, or…
In other words, there is no such thing as a motivation problem!
If you want to increase motivation you can increase value, decrease effort, or do both!
Do good and be well,