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If you put the pit of a peach into the ground, it’ll likely grow a peach tree.
It’s in the DNA of the seed to do this. It’s natural for the seed to grow a tree.
But some seeds won’t grow into trees because the climate is inadequate or the necessary nutrients are lacking.
The elements do not make the tree grow but they are the nutriments that developing peaches need.
They are necessary for the peach to do what it does naturally.
In a similar way, developing humans need psychological nutriments to do what they do naturally.
In “Why We Do What We Do”, Edward L. Deci says this about humans: “To internalize and integrate aspects of society that are important for their own success in life within that society, they must experience satisfaction of their basic psychological needs – for autonomy, competence, and relatedness – within the social context that provides the structures to be internalized.”
In other words, when we get what we need, we flourish….naturally.
Apply this thinking to your kids, students or employees.
Aha – it’s not about motivating people to perform well, it’s about creating conditions where people will motivate themselves.
If we want our children, students or employees to be responsible, according to Deci, “…we must accept our own responsibility as the agents of their socialization.”
In lending autonomy support – taking an interest, assisting with problems, seeing things from their point of view – we’re instilling respect and responsibility.
Deci warns that autonomy support may require more work, but then, as socializing agents, this is our responsibility.
When you invest in the people close to you – give them the nutriments they need to expand – you both win.
Even a simple “Thank you” goes a really long way.