Contributed by: Show Editorial Team
Gary Sheng, Madison Adams, Noor Myran, Zoe Jenkins, Ashley Lin, Maryam Tourk, Phoebe Omonira, Lillian Hertel, and Chabu Kapumba discuss intrinsic motivation on this week’s episode of The Trek
- Civics Unplugged hosts Trek Session with Gen Z community on intrinsic motivation and how it can be defined
- Prominent Gen Z figures discuss the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and whether or not it is subjective
- Future leaders of America discuss the importance of finding a healthy balance of both finding a way to motivate yourself and seeking validation from external sources
Brought to you by: Humanity 2.0 – a Non-Profit (Non-Government Organization) focused on identifying and removing the most significant impediments to human flourishing through technology and thought-leadership in collaboration with the Holy See (Vatican).
Special consideration; to CommPro Worldwide for their PR and media support
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Gary Sheng, Co-Founder/COO at Civics Unplugged, Madison Adams, Director of Dialogue at Civics Unplugged, Noor Myran, Founding Fellow of the 2020 CU Fellowship, Zoe Jenkins, Steering Committee Chair at Civics 2030, Ashley Lin, Founder/CEO of Project Exchange, Maryam Tourk, Co-founder of CU Summer Camp, Phoebe Omonira, Community Outreach Coordinator at Genz Girl Gang, Lillian Hertel, Founder of Students Stand Up and Chabu Kapumba, Senior Fellow at Civics Unplugged
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:00:01
Hello everyone. And welcome back to the group think if this is your first time joining us, group think is one of our dialogue series at CU, where we pick a topic and talk about whatever feels meaningful, all guided by burning questions. So my name is Madison and I’m a high school senior from Verges, Oklahoma. And I’m going to give you guys the floor to introduce yourselves.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:00:26
Hi, I’m Noor and I’m 16. I’m from Chicago, Illinois.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:00:32
Hi, my name is Phoebe. I’m 17 and I’m from Dallas.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:00:40
Hello, I’m Ashley. I’m also 17 from Vancouver, Washington.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:00:47
Hi, I’m Zoe. I am likewise 17. I’m from Lexington, Kentucky.
Maryam Tourk – Co-founder, CU Summer Camp: 00:00:55
Hey, I’m Maryam. I’m also 17 and I’m from the suburbs of Chicago.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:01:08
I’m Gary Sheng. One of the co-founders of Civics Unplugged. I’m calling in from New York city where CU is headquartered.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:01:22
Awesome. Well, thank you guys for being here today. We’re talking about intrinsic motivation. So something we’re going to do to start off that we started last week is we’re going to do word association. So we’re going to give you guys a couple minutes to think of three words that come to mind when you think of intrinsic motivation and then we’ll go through them together.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:01:55
And then you’re going to screen share, right? Why don’t you just, why don’t you start collecting responses for whoever has theirs first.
Maryam Tourk – Co-founder, CU Summer Camp: 00:02:41
Okay. So the first three words that came to my mind were driven, purpose and meaningful.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:02:56
Okay. Mine were individual, passion and wholeheartedly.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:03:08
Mine are curiosity, clarity and rewards.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:03:23
I guess I can give my three so I thought of optimized exploratory, and this is a weird one, but car wreck we can, I can explain that later after people finish,
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:03:57
My three were valid, successes and personal.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:04:01
And then I had a work, fun and rewarding. Yeah, Zoe, I want to hear more about this.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:04:22
Yeah. so, there’s this weird article that I remember reading in middle school, because I was doing research about, extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation. And so, there’s a story of this man who, by mistake, hit this young woman when he was driving and I don’t remember what country he was in, but it was widely known that it was cheaper to pay for somebody’s funeral than it was to pay for hospital bills. And so, people watched in horror as he kept going back and forth because he was motivated more so by the money of having to pay for that, then the life of that person. So it was a weird case study of people can be really motivated by money even though intrinsically they’re aware of the costs, but I think it was just a weird human behavior.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:05:22
Wow. That’s an incredible story. Like in terms of educational, you said it was real?
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:05:29
Yeah. I can try and find it, but it was just reading it I know everyone else was reading was like, I can’t believe that you would risk going to prison because it was cheaper, but he was that scared of his own financial health being hurt so that was the decision he made.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:05:53
I have a question. Is intrinsic motivation always inherently good? Or can it be also bad or does that depend on responses?
Maryam Tourk – Co-founder, CU Summer Camp: 00:06:24
I like this question a lot because, first of all, I guess good and bad is subjective. Like what’s good, but I think also intrinsic motivation can be different for people based on what your priorities are. So if your priority is liquor, so you were talking about your financial health and maybe your intrinsic motivation is going to be doing whatever you can to maximize your money or minimize their losses. But I think that’s a really interesting concept that intrinsic motivation, in my perspective, coming into this kind of conversation, I guess I was like, Oh, that’s such a good thing. Right? If you have intrinsic motivation, it just means that it’s motivating you to do things and you’re not doing it because anybody else wants you to. I think it’s so interesting to think that it could be bad depending on what your interests are. And not necessarily those interests are bad, but if you let those interests trump everything else, then it could get the best of you and also could compromise your morality’s if you let it drive you in the wrong direction, I guess. But again, I’m also using good and bad and wrong and right which are subjective terms too. So, I guess that it is just dependent on what people perceive them as.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:07:39
I think for me, I see intrinsic motivation a power tool where it’s like, whatever purpose or whatever goal you want to accomplish. If you have intrinsic motivation to do it, that’s going to be something that helps you. I think it depends on what your goal is that is what defines that good and bad thing. Because assuming that your end goal was something bad, again, subjective way, something bad, then I think the intrinsic motivation that comes with it is also bad because it’s propelling you to do something that is bad. But it’s good in the sense that it’s so giving you that harnessing tool to really push forward. So I guess for me, it just depends on what you’re motivated about.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:08:36
Noor, there was something you said that really made me think about how, it’s not motivation itself good or bad, but rather the end goal. I really liked that thought. And that’s all I wanted to add.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:08:52
Yeah. And like almost reminds me of a lot of power isn’t good or bad. It’s just a tool to be used. And I think that’s almost the same with intrinsic motivation. It’s not necessarily good or bad. It’s just all about how you use it. And it just comes down to what your values are and what exactly your goal is.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:09:23
It’s almost like, is it like justified? Like is what you’re feeling inside like that push forward? Is that justified for like, almost do the means justify the ends, I guess in terms of intrinsic motivation.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:09:42
I will say, I agree. That definitely depends on the end goal, but I think in and of itself, the ability to be motivated by something just because you want it, I think is really amazing. I mean, there are people who, money will get them to do something. And I know for me that there are things where like, Oh, you’re going to buy me food. Yeah. I’ll do that. But for things where you just internally really wanted to do something, that’s awesome. Now it can be, as you said, yielded in very unfortunate ways. But I think it’s kind of a phenomenon in and of itself.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:10:20
Do you feel like, the thing about the story though, and wondering is that really intrinsic motivation though that the guy felt he needed to run over that person? Because I didn’t know, but I want to believe no one is naturally intrinsically motivated to do that. I feel like there are external pressures or external beliefs that have shaped that person’s perspective. And so I don’t know. It’s not intrinsically depression is super evil. It’s just external things going on.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:11:07
Yeah. And I agree with you, I think in that particular instance, which is a pretty morbid example in all honesty, but I think, that person was seriously concerned for their financial wellbeing and those external factors outweighed any just natural humanity factors of like, Oh no, I don’t want to hurt this person more than I have to. So, I think that, we all have to go to this question next, but it could be something just to look at like what, what influences people more, intrinsic or extrinsic motivation? And then I think that those are two different motivators that can make people do very different things.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:11:55
Do you guys want to go to that question? I think it’s a good question.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:12:01
Yeah, for sure. I think the first thing that comes to mind isn’t necessarily an answer, but another question, which is how do you define intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation? Because I think that shapes which one, I definitely think it’s a case-by-case basis of which one is more impactful. And I think it depends on the definition.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:12:24
I think we can start with that. I was going to ask that as well. So, what is extrinsic motivation or what are both of them?
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:12:34
How do you define extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation?
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:12:42
I’ll say, the only reason that I remotely know what this is, I actually did a research project on it in eighth grade. After reading that article. And so how I look at it is that extrinsic motivation is anything where like someone else or something else has to give you something for you to want to do something. So, that can be a lot of things of like, you know, if your parents were like, I’m going to take away your car keys if you don’t do your chores, that’s extrinsic because you want to be able to drive. So, you would do whatever your parents said to do. And in a way doing schoolwork is kind of mixed. Is that extrinsic? Is it intrinsic because you want good grades and you want to go to a good school with those good grades. But I think intrinsic is internal, something that you want to do and something that you would do, even if no one else told you to do it.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:13:45
Yeah. I definitely agree with that. I also think a lot about rewards. I feel like, extrinsic motivation is essentially you are doing things for a reward that comes from like the outside world, someone else gives you the reward. But like when you’re intrinsically motivated, like you are able to create your own rewards for yourself. Instead of having to depend on someone else for it.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:14:18
Something to add on to that, I think both are valued differently. Like coming back to how you used the examples of school from a global perspective, because that’s how I set it up. We have to think of everything and bring it back to the global example. Intrinsic value is more something that we have to come up with ourselves. And I mean, that’s literally in the definition, but it’s not as pushed as an extrinsic motivation, like getting good grades, equal scholarships for college degree, a good life. It’s very cookie cutter. And I feel like that’s how I’ve just been taught to think. But then intrinsic motivation would be to want to think in a different way and to be able to do that, you’d have to be surrounded by people who also value that. And who also wants to change their way of thinking. I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I do think that they hold different values in society as a whole.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:15:24
Yeah. I like that point. I think a good way to assess intrinsic motivation is would you still be doing it if no one knew you were doing it at all? If you were almost like doing it in secret, like, would you still get the same fulfillment out of it?
Maryam Tourk – Co-founder, CU Summer Camp: 00:15:41
I think Phoebe, something that you said also made me think of something. I think that there’s a lot of nuance when it comes to extrinsic motivation, because it’s like, oh if there’s not a physical reward, but it’s maybe like, Oh, someone else will be happy if you do something, where does that fall on the spectrum? Because you intrinsically want them to be happy about it, or you want them to feel a certain way, but also, it’s not coming from yourself. So I think that’s something interesting to think about where the line is between like extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. And I also think that is it still intrinsic motivation if you want to do it, but there still is an extrinsic reward. It’s like, Oh, do you want to do it for yourself or do you want to do it for that reward? I guess, I don’t know for some people for college, they’re like, Oh, I want to succeed in the traditional system just to prove that I can, but some people also might say like, Oh no, that’s extrinsic because you know, you’re doing it to like all like the traditional path of life. So I don’t know. I think that at least for me something that I’m thinking about, I’m like, Oh, what really defines a difference between extrinsic and intrinsic when it comes down to those smaller things.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:16:58
So let me pose two questions. Madison, can you add it to the question kind of list related to Maryam’s points can intrinsic motivation be corrupted by extrinsic rewards? And if you were intrinsically motivated first your extrinsic motivation money was let’s just say money. Money was you’re paid to do that. Yeah. Actually you’re paid to do the thing that you were intrinsically motivated by if you stopped being paid would your intrinsic motivation that you had before not exist, or would it be decreased the next sense that just that question, not saying whether it would that’s true or not. And then is it intrinsic motivation if you have expanded your definition of self, and so you’re doing stuff for your expanded self, right. But to other people, it looks like you’re doing it for other people.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:18:11
I think the first thing that comes to mind for those first question is kind of what Maryam was talking about with school. I think it’s intrinsic motivation to be a learner and to learn things. But then I think that’s corrupted by the status that schools would be like, Oh, if you study this thing that you might not actually be interested in, but if you study it really hard and you do really well, you’ll be assigned a high letter grade, like entrepreneurship. That’s the reward to Ashley’s point is that’s that kind of person that comes to mind and the idea of college too. You could just want the same thing to be a learner, but it’s like you can profit off of the fact that you get into a really good school, but that doesn’t satisfy your wanting to learn, even though that’s assumed to be the reward.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:19:07
I was going to say Noor, that was the exact example that my mind went to. Is that little kids, I think are naturally incredibly curious people and we break that out of them of like these are the core subjects that you’re supposed to care about. I don’t care that you like those Legos at home. Don’t bring those to school. Don’t do X, Y, and Z, things like that, where eventually you’ve produced a child and when they graduate, they don’t know what they’re interested in, because it’s been beaten out of them essentially to be interested in other things. And I think in a lot of this reminds me to just have our conversation with social media and all that stuff too, where I wonder how the existence of social media, the internet, where our lives are more public than they’ve ever been. If you inherently seek more extrinsic validation from other people, because it’s so accessible. There’s probably a time where, you just had to do something because he liked it. And no one else is going to know about it, but now it’s like people know about the things that you do. So yeah, that’s just another thought there.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:20:23
Great thoughts. I just want to pause for a second. Lillian, do you want to quickly introduce yourself? Just name, location, school?
Lillian Hertel – Founder, Students Stand Up: 00:20:34
Sure. Hi, my name is Lillian. I use she/her pronouns and I live in the Minneapolis area. And I go to Benilde St Margaret’s and St. Louis Park.
Maryam Tourk – Co-founder, CU Summer Camp: 00:20:54
One thing that I was thinking about Zoe, after we were talking about that was at some point, do people not even recognize the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation because it’s so intertwined. Like, you might think that it’s something that you want. I think what you were talking about, like kids as being this grit form of they want to do things just because they want to do things and they don’t have like, either like societal pressure or other pressures to really influence their thoughts. But I think now some people might not even be able to identify what it is that intrinsically motivates them, because we just don’t know, because they’ve never been able to explore that, or they’ve never had the opportunity to, and they didn’t even know that they weren’t being intrinsically motivated. If that makes sense. I feel like so many people, if they just went through school and they didn’t question things, they might not have ever had the opportunity to be like, Hey, wait, this isn’t even what I want, but I think it’s weird to think that. People wouldn’t even know what is intrinsically motivated them or worse that they would think that what they’re doing is what they want to do when it might not even be feasible.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:22:14
Something that came to mind, Maryam while you were talking was how our biases create our values. And in that that creates our motivation. So I don’t know, maybe it’s our personal biases about the world that can, and not biases with a negative connotation, but with just a neutral one about how they can create our values and then from those values our motivators. And when I think about that, I thought about power as an example of an extrinsic reward. But when someone first starts, they might just want to be a volunteer and they want to run for public office because they really do want to help people. But that’s intrinsic motivation because they love people. And that goes back to how Gary said they’ve expanded their definition of self. And from that power might be something that like Ashley said is a tool, but it can also be corrupted in the sense but that was just an example of how that question could play out in real life.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:23:28
And this brings up another question, which I’ll answer as well. Because I’ve read into this a little bit of just like what’s more effective intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. And from the reading that I remember when you’re intrinsically motivated, you produce better products because you just honestly want to do it, but extrinsic motivators are more consistent. So, you’re more likely to get a group of 100 people to do something if you say, I will pay you $100 to do it versus, you know, if you asked a hundred people to do something and you don’t pay them, you know, you might get like 10, 15 who are really into it, but then no one else will you kind of get two different situations with that.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:24:22
What interests me is the idea that when I think of, I feel like I keep coming back to the school example just because it makes most of what’s in my head, but it’s like, when I think about doing homework versus doing any type of learning with CU, I feel like I said this before, but it’s liberating because I know that what I’m learning can benefit other people, whereas me learning how to calculate a derivative that only benefits my grade. Especially considering if I don’t necessarily want to pursue a career in math. So, it’s just interesting to me. And another thing that comes to mind is I feel like everyone’s, I was like, Oh my God, why would you want to go into art? But if you have that intrinsic motivation of like, I’m just really passionate about it, you’re almost taught that unless there’s extrinsic motivation, there’s no purpose and do I get to that? Unless there’s money involved, unless like you’re going to get that sense of power it’s not worth it. And so, I think it’s interesting how that changes or influences what we decide to do.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:25:48
Anyone want to answer any of the questions or pose another question of their own?
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:25:59
I have a question. Can intrinsic and extrinsic motivation really be compared? Are they similar enough to host a conversation on that comparison? Or are they on two different scales because of where they come from and how we use them in our life to do and accomplish goals.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:26:25
Such a great question. I think when people treat them as two poles or opposites, they’re using that framework as a tool, but sometimes they take the tool as reality versus recognizing that there’s so many nuances and in some ways they’re independent in some ways they are dependent.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:26:55
Yeah. I’m definitely good at that. And is there anything about what you said about when you’re intrinsically motivated, you produce better products, but extrinsic motivation is a lot more consistent. And I think even in my own life, yes, I am very intrinsically motivated to say my cultural change work. I love doing that, but I create extrinsic motivators for myself. Like when I accomplish X, I will treat myself to Starbucks or something. I create those actions and motivators to keep me on the right track, because it is so much more consistent. Even though I know yes, intrinsically I will be very driven to do this, it’s so helpful for me to have outside things that I can also depend on or I will tell my family and my friends, I’m setting this goal. So then when I do reach it, I’ll kind of get some sort of validation from them and it helps keep me on track. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing that corrupts my intrinsic motivation. I think it actually like supports it.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:28:21
Oh, that’s so interesting. I think that’s why accountability partners and what we do in our Juntos is so important because it’s like you have the intrinsic motivation to do something, but you also have the consistency because you have the extrinsic. Wow.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:28:37
I mean, I think it’s just proof that you need both. I think that if you do things in life and you are never validated by anybody else, you will just burn out. But I think at the same time, if you do something purely for money, purely for some other person’s validation, you also burn out. I think you have to have a balance where you both really, really want it, but you’re also getting rewarded for it. So it feels more meaningful. And I think like what Gary said that they’re sometimes they’re independent and sometimes they’re very dependent of, you know, you’ll start getting to an end of extrinsic motivation where it’s like, I’m now doing something I don’t like to do. And that’s when people quit their jobs because they’re like I’m doing something that I don’t actually really love to do. And also at the same time, people can go down intrinsic motivation path and they’re like, I cannot make a living for myself. I need to recalibrate based off of extrinsic factors. So I think that if it’s in balance and in harmony, they keep each other in check, but I think they both can serve to make you happy just in a variety of ways.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:29:42
And I think that’s a really good point. So, by the way, I’m Chabu, I’m 19 and from Toronto, but sorry for joining late. But I think to answer that question, it really revolves around when do you know, which is the appropriate one to deploy or to focus on the most when it comes to intrinsic versus extrinsic motivators, because they are both valid and have so much added value, but there are times where you need to prioritize one over the other. And that’s like a skill set in its own.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:30:24
I just want to say this is a very powerful group.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:30:38
Any other responses to any of the questions or other questions?
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:30:44
I guess to Chabu’s point, I’m almost wondering, how do you make yourself intrinsically motivated? Like, is that something that would happen naturally? Or is that something you can do for yourself? Because I feel like when I need to motivate myself, I’ll go with the example of school, it has to be extrinsic in the sense that I learned this in middle school. It was like, Oh, when you finished the end of the paragraph, you get a gummy bear and it’s weird, but it works. And then I’m done with the essay. So, it’s like, are you able to, I guess to know which one to deploy at? Like, are you even able to put that or make that decision?
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:31:27
Well, so Noor, this it’s taken me a long time to really understand. But you have to convince yourself of things, right? You kind of the treat your personality sort of like a community of sub personalities is I don’t know, if I should do this. Like you got to convince me. Right. And so the way that I convinced myself to do something like running, I’ll write out why running is valuable. I’ll make sure I absorb it myself and maybe I’ll look at it again, maybe I’ll put a post-it on the wall that says running is like good bunting running helps. And then over time it’s like my association with running is now all good things. So, it doesn’t take convincing yourself as a lot more. So if your thoughts here you need reasons for intrinsic motivation is fueled by good reasons. Those reasons should at least in some way come from yourself by like writing it out for yourself. Not just blindly absorbing other people’s suggestions, because I’ve been trying to convince Thanasai to work out with me for about a year and a half. I’m pretty sure he won’t until he was just giving me ideas. I think maybe I’ll give him a journaling exercise or something.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:33:06
I think that’s so cool. Because I think I do something a little bit similar, especially when I’m not motivated to do something that’s important or super relevant or I went through a working slump and I’m trying to get back in the groove before each task on my to-do list. I’ll sit down and free write for one minute as to why this is an important thing to do, except the way that I like to frame it is that I’m reconnecting myself with my intrinsic motivators, because I think that people forget that there can be something that you are intrinsically motivated to do, but you can still procrastinate it or not want to do it. So I think that there’s a good relationship and just almost like reconnecting your current activities or kind of annoying things that you have to get through to do to achieve your bigger goals by reframing it and reconnecting it to your intrinsic motivators. Because intrinsic motivators are often goals that take a long time to achieve or accomplish.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:34:04
Wow. I love that idea.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:34:08
That’s something where you say, that’s definitely something I’m going to have to try. And I think that you do have to convince yourself, but I think that it’s almost like you start to become more intrinsically motivated and you have to convince yourself the extrinsic motivators aren’t doing it anymore. Or you have to just distance yourself like that’s not why I want to do it and almost reframing it. First of all, fourth grade me, I was like nine, I was a bit of a character, but my mom used to check like the grade book every night and tell me like, these are the things that you have to do. And like, Zoe, did you do all of these things every night and cheat. And she always tells me that at some point at fourth grade, I was like, mom, I don’t need you to look at my agenda anymore. She was like, what? I was like, don’t tell me what I have to do after school, because I’m going to do it by myself. And she was like, okay, hands off. And she’s not checked anything ever since. Which is not the way it’s gone with my brother. Like my brother is just not that same person. And so I attribute that to, I think nine year old me was just annoyed that my mom kept asking me what I had to do. But things that simple can make you more intrinsically motivated. I mean, it’s almost like, there are a lot of like organization and things that get started because people are frustrated or mad about something and then they create these incredible prolific things because they were frustrated by something. So it’s almost like when the extrinsic motivator stopped working, there’s like something that kicks in and you start almost like fixing the problem yourself, I guess. I don’t know if that makes sense.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:35:38
I think it’s so cool how you’ve brought the connection between personality traits and our intrinsic motivators or what becomes an intrinsic motivator because of personality traits.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:36:09
And on that note of what you said about our personality, I think it also depends on what you value. Something that I actually learned to dice is that it’s not about success. It’s not really about that end goal. It’s about fulfillment in order to reach. I was just learning about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and everything, but in order to reach self-actualization it’s about fulfillment. So it’s not really about what you value, but it’s like about reaching fulfillment, reaching that self-actualization in order to be a better human. And I mean, that goes back to the expanding the definition of your sense of self, because you can’t really do that until you have a fulfillment, and you reached all those parts on the like triangle.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:37:06
Phoebe, that’s my experience. How I visualize it is like, yeah, I had to get to my pyramid for my very individual self to even have the mental space to think about broader self. And this is why you see you we’ve kind of consciously tried to re-shift starting with builders realize is valuable work, right? Working on what you can work on, what you have the capacity, and you shouldn’t work on yourself at the smallest scale of the self that you can actually manage it. And once you’ve managed that, right, and found a, I guess, equilibrium I was jamming with Ashley about this the other day. Then you can try to help establish a healthier equilibrium, let’s say with your, I don’t know partner, or you know, situation with your siblings and parents, right. And then maybe some student groups, and then maybe eventually you care so much about your city that you run for mayor, right. But, if you don’t figure out how to, you know, get a smaller scale of self in equilibrium and a healthy, sustainable equilibrium, it’s very hard to, to want to, I guess, grow the, grow the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs almost.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:38:50
On the note of equilibrium. I also want to latch onto something that Chabu said earlier about how a lot of things that you are intrinsically motivated to do are long-term things and I feel like it’s almost harmful to feel like you always need to be working on things that you are intrinsically motivated by. And that if you aren’t, you’re lacking intrinsic motivation or something like that, because I don’t know. I feel like there is a balance that needs to be found where intrinsic motivation doesn’t necessarily mean that you are working like 24/7 and that is the only thing you can think about. I think there needs to be some form of like widened definition of like what you can be intrinsically motivated by.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:40:02
That actually just inspired a question that I have. So I know that we all kind of have a preference or leading and see towards intrinsic motivators because they have so much added value, but what are some dangers that come with that? And I can start off by saying like in the context of like democracy forum, I care so much about that. I am most certainly intrinsically motivated to see good things come out of the work that we do or any work associated with politics or development. So when I’m working on a task where I’m to intrinsically motivated in relation to that, and it doesn’t go as planned or isn’t as successful as I would have hoped, I’m like devastated, you know what I mean? On a very personal level and personal capacity. So all good things also have their nuances that we need to be wearing out. So like, I wonder if you guys have anything to add to this question.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:41:07
The first thing that comes to mind is it’s not even overworking yourself. It’s like zoning so much and in that you forget that other stuff impacts the work you could do. So if I was really focused on getting something done and I didn’t journal for the day, or I didn’t go for a run then because I think that I’m so focused on getting this done that I don’t focus on the other stuff that also needs to get done so that my original goal can actually happen and be successful. So I almost, if I’m very intrinsically motivated by something, I almost forget about the other stuff that I need to do, keep that motivation healthy.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:41:55
And to latch on to what Chabu said, I think intrinsic motivation can even be more harmful than extrinsic. I don’t mean to compare them, but I mean, motivation has to do with your own sense of self, your own sense of self-worth and how you view yourself. And I mean, if I get a bad grade, I can just turn off my computer and go on to talk and forget about school. But if my own values are my core being shaken or messed up by me not being able to complete a task that holds value to me, I think that disrupts your state of mind and your state of being, and that’s even more important and has more ramifications on other people as well as yourself. So, I think that’s why it can be even more harmful.
Maryam Tourk – Co-founder, CU Summer Camp: 00:42:44
Yeah. Expanding on that, I definitely relate because I feel like the work that we’re doing comes from such powerful motivators, but it also means that it can be very draining at times when things don’t go the way that you want them to go. Because if you’re being motivated by saying like, Oh, I want to help refugees because they’re dying or they’re in horrible conditions. And then you’re not successful in your work then you’re like, Oh, well, who are you letting down? Right. Because if your work is motivated by that, then it can also take a very personal toll on you when your work isn’t successful. And I think something that also just kind of makes me think of is if you are intrinsically motivated to do your work, how do you find that work-life balance? Because like Noor was saying, I feel like things can also fall to the side that would help you maintain a healthy balance when you’re so motivated by your intrinsic motivation. So it is extremely powerful, but that can be in a good way, like fueling yourself, but can also be in a bad way when we take some of the positive aspects.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:43:59
I think so many of these answers just reaffirmed something Phoebe said earlier, which is just that intrinsic values are a direct correlation of what your personal core values are.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:44:15
And I’ll say with like, work-life balance, I think you have to force it. To use what Gary was saying earlier, when you’ve completed little pyramid, you’re starting to expand back out to help other people, which especially with Maryam’s example, if you’re helping people and in refugee, CRA humanitarian crises broadly defined, there can be a lot of personal weight with that. And when things don’t go as well as you hoped they would. So, I think that you have to have some fun extrinsic motivators to do other things. I know that one that’s been interesting is that I’ve not always been someone to take weekends off. But since my mom has moved to Virginia and she comes home on the weekends and then she used to work during the week. I now take weekends off because that’s the time I get to see my mom. And I was like, Whoa, it’s weird that this other liberal kind of, you know, you can call it extrinsic because she’s like, Zoe, get off your computer and come spend time with me. But also, I do want to see my mom. But it’s little extrinsic things that forced you to take a step back and focus on your little small world before kind of looking at more big picture which I think those can be created by other people, but you can also create it, and it can be as small as I go to Starbucks on Saturday mornings, like what Ashley was saying, and I will spend two hours just listening to something that I want to listen to or reading a silly book because that’s what I want to do.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:46:01
Just based off of what Zoe said. I’m realizing that a lot of my extrinsic motivation comes from the people in my life. Like not much of it is stuff that I put onto myself where it’s like, if I get this done, I’ll do this. It’s more like, I want to get this done for someone else. Or maybe just the fear of disappointing someone else if I don’t get it done. Which I don’t know how healthy that is, but it works. So I don’t know if as a reflection moment, I’m wondering if like that’s something I would need to like reassess because feels problematic in the long run.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:46:45
I definitely align with what Noor just said of being very motivated by friends and not wanting to let anyone down. I think that’s probably my biggest fear, a fear of failure, oversharing a little bit maybe, but that goes back to another point about how I choose friends in my life who make work, not feel like work, but we literally had a whole conversation about personality tests and some that there was a hidden brain episode about how personality tests can be a guideline, but she didn’t be what you swear on the Bible or anything like that. And then we have conversations on that, and it helps grow. And so I am intrinsically motivated because I don’t want to let them down and be like, Oh, I didn’t listen to the podcast. I had nothing to add to this conversation, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like work anymore because I genuinely enjoy being around them. And we bring so much light to my life. But also I know a lot of people listen to music while you’re working and stuff. So I always try to work meditation podcasts, like five minutes into my playlist and stuff in order for me to take that five minute break and meditate a little, but still be working if that makes sense.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:48:12
I feel like if you are intrinsically motivated to do your work, you are also somewhat intrinsically motivated to keep a work life balance, because that is how you remain able to do your work. And that is, I don’t know, I feel like when you don’t have that balance, you no longer have capacity to do your work anymore. And so that is in itself, built-in you should prioritize so that you are able to do what you want to do.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:48:49
Ashley just articulated something that I think I’m just recently realizing a super important that refueling takes shape and more than just sleeping and eating and working out. It also means putting your mind on to things that are not necessarily productive, but like bring you joy in some capacity or another. So intrinsic motivation and work. I think that it’s hard because you don’t see like your relationship with work as like a negative thing, which would normally cue you to go take a break. But it’s still super important that you take those different, you don’t rely on typical cues to, or red flags to remind you to take a break.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:49:35
Something that came to mind that Chabu said that quote that’s like “Too much of a good thing, isn’t good for you” or too much of a good thing is bad. Indefinitely, if you love what you’re doing being able to stop doing it, you don’t feel like you can because why would you want to stop doing what you love, but balance is so important on your journey to fulfillment and on your journey to self-actualization. And within that there is validity and there is value. So having that balance is super important.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:50:17
I’ve also been thinking a lot about like having multiple cells and I think in the past, that actually that was very productive and that actually helped to care for mental health, and they were separate people. And I’m just like very much separate people. We’re not the same person. And I think have also kind of found that, you know, they can’t be separate people. They need to be the same person. And you have to find ways to merge the two of them to truly find that sense of herself that Phoebe was talking about.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:51:09
I think what’s so spot on about Ashley’s point is at least for me, it’s not even just like, Oh, past Noor did this, that was really good or present Noor is doing this. I think that there are because of how complex we are. It’s not necessarily that we’re multiple different people. It’s not like there’s little voices in your head that do and say different things or that remind you of different things. And so in terms of finding that balance, it’s recognizing that not only are they individual people, but they work together because they’re still like you. Right. And it’s just so interesting to me to think about, because I would almost argue that my inner monologue is where most of my intrinsic motivation comes from, because you’re passionate about it and on your own time, which is very relaxed. Whereas, I don’t want to start getting my personality, find extrinsic motivation because if you get this done, someone will benefit or something other than you will benefit. Which is just interesting to make that connection.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:52:28
And that goes back to what Gary said earlier about expanding your idea of yourself to others. I don’t completely understand that. So anyone would like expand on that. I would love that.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:52:47
Ashley, I know you’ve done some recent thinking about that. Do you want to talk about it?
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:52:54
Yeah. When I think of expanding your sense of self my definition of love is extending your sense of yourself. Like it’s really about recognizing that you know, what you feel are your successes aren’t necessarily your own like shaped by so many people who have come in, who have come before you, but also people around you, like humans, other living beings, the universe in itself is so complex and beautiful when you think about it. And I think expanding your sense of self is just really recognizing that when you make decisions, it doesn’t just affect you. So many people around you and everything is interconnected. I know I’m going in circles.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:54:31
Thanks, Ashley, that made a lot of sense. And then Noor, going back to what you said about how there’s different versions of you different voices that all contribute to who you are as an individual. Do you all think that your sense of self is impacted more so by one aspect of your life than the other? Or how have you found, Oh, it goes back to that work-life balance with how do you define balance in that? Or did you find a common similarity in the fact that you’ve always been intrinsically motivated? Like Zoe said how she was nine and while I’m checking my stuff, those were three questions.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:55:25
Going back to what Noor said, I have almost like a running joke of these three distinct versions of Chabu, so to speak. And I think what it allows me to do when it comes to intrinsic motivation or decision-making is that it allows me to shift my priorities or qualities about myself that resonate with what I’m dealing with at the moment. You know what I mean? So it’s a really easy way to almost switch a part of your brain and be like, okay, so this is the thing that matters the most among many things that matter a lot to me. Or this is a core value or motivator that’s taking shape right now.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:56:09
Personally, I’m still trying to figure out what the different, I keep referring to them as people, because they’re as complex as people are, but I’m trying to figure out what they’re saying. And when they come into play and be like, after I figured that out, how can I actually make a balance? Because I’d argue, I use the wrong people at the wrong time. But I’ll bring out the wrong Noor at the wrong time. And then my priorities aren’t straight or balanced.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 00:56:59
And do you all think that when yhe version of Noor or when the version of childhood, when those versions come out and they’re ruling your actions, not saying you all have split personalities or anything, but do you think that you each have different values or are the values still continuous? Do they still align or are different values more important than others in different parts of who you are?
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:57:25
I believe that my different parts almost have different values and because of that, their goals are different, and their intrinsic motivation is different. And that is what frustrates and confuses me and drains me because it seems like multiple people are pulling me in multiple different directions. I don’t know, but I guess in that sense, intrinsic motivation is almost something that is, I don’t want to say dangerous, but I feel like for some of myself, I don’t question that intrinsic motivation and it kind of just accept it as what it is. And so like, that’s why so many different versions of me exists, even when I don’t necessarily want it to.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 00:58:23
I think that this conversation has opened my eyes that I I’ve realized, I mean there probably multiple, but I know that one particular version of Zoe it’s just a know at all and just likes to be right. And I try to think back to why did I still do high school debate when I am not at that school? Do I have time for that yet? I find myself making five, six hours a week to do all of this research. And I was like, that’s because I like being in a debate where I can just tell people they’re wrong. And so I think there’s sometimes which is a very safe way to express that part of my personality because it’s a competition you’re supposed to be that way. But yeah, I think that that version of Zoe has very different values and she’s just meaner, just not a great person to be around. Yeah, she’s right but you don’t have to go that far with it. But I think you have to satisfy other parts of yourself so that they don’t show themselves at other times, like with other people and things like that.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 00:59:22
I almost want to do before, I know earlier we were talking about writing down the benefits of doing something while you’re doing something. And I almost want to do that. And then the different stuff I do and who’s voice comes out with that almost like color coding. So Zoe if you were about to do something with debate, it would be very clear that Zoe who needs to be correct and like who is correct is like translating that reflection versus like another part. I don’t know, that’s just something I would find interesting to see. And I also think again, not to sound crazy, but it’s like, which voice is loudest, who talks the most. So who doesn’t have enough just again, to maintain that balance, to make sure that it doesn’t come off as rude, if that voice needs to say something.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 01:00:43
I just wanted to say that I think that the reason why a lot of us have the inclination to almost divide personalities into parts is because it helps you boil down to simple truths and bring those to the surface. And then it’s so much easier to make decisions or engage in something, you know what I mean? And then also just prioritize different intrinsic values that you have at that point in time. So there’s reasons as to why we kind of all gravitate towards doing that.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 01:01:18
Something that I thought of, you said that was that episode of NPR to the sorting hat is talking about Harry Potter and the Potter houses. And I know nothing about that, but it was super interesting because it was talking about how to be able to categorize their personalities not because if we want to limit ourselves, but because we want to feel that sense of the community, we want to feel like you belong. And I think that goes to something that I think is at the core of every person, even if you work against it, as hard as you can, you can grow and develop fear is still a deep part of the human experience. And so I think another part of being intrinsically motivated would be fear. And I know that’s something that’s common with all the versions of different things, but still fear in itself.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 01:02:23
I’m going to stop screen sharing and now we can just kind of talk about how that went for everyone. Some closing thoughts.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 01:02:37
Gary said at the start of this, that this is a powerful group of people. And I think this conversation very accurately represented that it’s always like really cool. Like it’s cool to like talk about that, but it’s also cool to be able to say, there are multiple voices in my head without someone getting concerned, but rather someone actually relating and understanding and adding more.
Maryam Tourk – Co-founder, CU Summer Camp: 01:03:07
I love group thinks because I feel so validated on one side, but also so challenged in my perspectives on the other side, just because I like knowing that people are going through the same things as me, but also challenging me to see things from different perspectives. And in ways I never even thought of a topic before. But I just always appreciate talking to you all and hearing your experiences too.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 01:03:39
I was going to say first and I know that Gary told us what the topic was and it didn’t click until we started talking. I was like, I did a project on this. I was like, I know about this, but I learned a lot. And I think even coming to the realization that debate Zoe, that’s a different version of me. And she has very different intrinsic motivations and they’re good sometimes, but terrible other times. I was like, I’m just a totally different person when I debate. And I’m like, no, that’s okay, that’s a different me that I don’t have to emulate in all parts of my life.
Phoebe Omonira – Community Outreach Coordinator, Genz Girl Gang: 01:04:19
Normalize having multiple voices in your head and having different personalities at different times. I mean, we all do it. We all. But something that Maryam said reminded me of a SZA lyric that says, “Say no to the yes-man” and what it means is that say no to everyone who just says yes to everything that you say. And I think everyone in this case would be like myself, I would definitely agree with myself a hundred percent of the time because it’s my own head. But being here with all you amazing people saying thoughts out loud and getting very much challenged, very much seeing things from a different perspective and learning new things. And I think that contributes to my journey of self-actualization and trying to become a better person. So, thank you so much for this experience.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 01:05:18
I’m also in the similar vein as Zoe about the fact that I did a whole research project on this for a semester on just education and intrinsic motivators and students. And so I love how, I came to this conversation with internal dialogue of Oh, I know what we’re talking about. And then walking out of it with a completely different understanding of something that literally took months to learn about. So this was so cool and so meaningful. And I think it just speaks to the value of these conversations.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 01:05:51
Chabu, I feel like I’ve learned from you the power of valuing learning that isn’t stuck in a textbook. I think there’s the amount that you can learn and it’s kind of infinite from, from people that are intrinsically motivated to support your wellbeing and be candid and vulnerable, like Zoe was talking about that a little competitive is good. And it’s going to be competitive, that the energy inside.
Noor Myran – Founding Fellow, 2020 CU Fellowship: 01:06:33
This isn’t really a closing thought. I think the point about voices being an energy is cool to think about just cause they’re literal propellers for me to either do something or stay away from something. I have an interesting, I just think it was like an interesting way to put it.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 01:06:58
Just to add on to that, I mean this kind of full circle, we were talking about how good versus bad is subjective. And I think it’s context specific when there’s some instances often for survival’s sake where you have to be really assertive, right. And unwavering and fierce and you know, all these things. So, whatever Zoe’s sub-personality that she was talking about, you don’t want to discard that. Right? You don’t want to stifle that. And I would almost say probably everyone has something like that in them, I think. And you just got to be aware of what goals you’re trying to achieve and what personalities are going to shine and be most kind of helpful for that. So with CU it’s almost entirely the loving and caring personalities for me, right. I have to bring that out. And the way that I shut down the really competitive zero-sum side is, I work it out in the morning. I do a strenuous workout where I can just be kind of Zen throughout the day and like little things that would otherwise annoy me, annoyed me a lot less. And this and it’s actually a very common thing that a lot of people do. So, it was just something to think about. Madison you want to want to do the final, final thoughts?
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 01:08:43
Oh yeah. I just think something that I’ve realized is if you leave a group think without having a completely different perspective on the topic, then you weren’t listening. Just because I was so surprised at everything that I heard and just how intertwined intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are. So yeah, it was super good to hear from all you guys. Thank you guys for sharing and thank you all for coming. I hope to see you all again at an upcoming group think.
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