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  • Writer's pictureBrett Simpson

14. Motivation: The Intersection of Focus & Drive

What causes us to take action?  Motivation.  Motivation is the impetus for action based on a need or desire for change.

Paraphrasing part of Newton’s First Law of Motion…An object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. It could be said that motivation is what stimulates the “acted upon by an outside force” portion of this law as it pertains to the initiation of activity.

In business, as in life, motivation can have positive or negative origins.

Positive origins include:

  • Opportunity

  • Excitement

  • Reward

  • Recognition

  • Enablement

  • Autonomy

Negative origins include:

  • Fear

  • Threat

  • Debt

  • Failure

  • Punishment

  • Pain

Regardless of origin, motivation leads to change when acted upon. Whether that change is innovative, incremental or even detrimental, is a result of the combination of the intent, approach and execution of the action. Motivation starts the ball rolling. So, how do you motivate? 

What is the Motivation Intersection?

Motivation is the intersection of focus and drive (see Intersection 14 image below). Focus is the ‘what’ and drive is the ‘why’. In the context of motivation as a precursor to corporate innovation, the source of motivation can be either positive or negative.

The extent of an individual’s or team’s motivation is variable. Some do the bare minimum to survive (or not be fired). Others seem to have endless motivation reserves and are constantly seeking to exceed expectations. The reasons for either are myriad but focus and drive are at the core.


Focus defines what action(s) can or should be taken. Without focus there is aimlessness and apathy. In a work environment it’s critical to proactively counter these progress-killers because they lead to waste and confusion. Waste in terms of time, money and resources. Confusion in terms of who does what and when.

When individuals or teams are focused, accomplishments happen.  Those can include the mundane, basic blocking and tackling of everyday work, as well as the more exciting, innovative special projects. 

Focus validates the assumption that there is something to be motivated about. 

Intersection 14: Motivation = Focus + Drive


Drive is the ‘why’ behind motivation. It’s not enough to simply identify an action that can be taken. There must be meaning to it; a value that creates the drive to move forward. Drive plus focus completes the motivation equation. 

Drive is the reason or rationale for doing something. Like the overall concept of motivation, drive can stem from positivity or negativity. Either way, drive fuels movement. It also determines the pace, level of effort and attention to detail related to that movement. 

Drive governs how quickly, and sometimes how competently, activity happens.

What Can Leaders Do?

Motivation is how leaders make purpose, strategy and ideas come to fruition. Understanding the prerequisites of motivation, as well as how to motivate, is what differentiates successful leaders from unsuccessful ones.

Motivation doesn’t guarantee success, only that a decision on action can be made. Poor leadership can lead to low or no motivation which results in high levels of inefficiency and ineffectiveness in organizations.

As leaders it’s important to not only manage what to focus on, but also to understand drive and how that synergy impacts performance (good or bad).

Wrap Up & Up Next

Motivation is a powerful force in business. Many times, it’s the difference between success and failure. It’s certainly the difference between persistence and giving up.

The best results happen when motivation is intentional and meaningful.

Next time we’ll examine the 15th intersection of performance, which is the Creativity Intersection.

In this series of articles, we explore The Intersections of Performance, of which there are 30. The Intersections of Performance framework is based on the experience and insights of Brett Simpson, Managing Director of Elevate Simply, over his 20+ years of leadership in large and small organizations, and as an entrepreneur, advisor and investor.

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