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Teaching Clients About Intrinsic Motivation After Certified Life Coach Training

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In a 1975 experiment, psychologist Edward Deci found that university students who were paid to do an interesting puzzle devoted less free time and interest to the task than their unpaid peers did. The experiment, which has since been replicated and adapted to the workplace, was an early exploration of ‘extrinsic’ versus ‘intrinsic’ motivation. Whereas extrinsic motivation operates through external threats or rewards, intrinsic motivation is an inner drive based on interest and enjoyment. Beyond proving the power of intrinsic motivation among unpaid students, Deci established the limits of external or extrinsic motivators such as financial incentives (Bénabou and Tirole, 2003).

For life coaches, intrinsic motivation is a powerful tool. It can help their clients pursue proximate and long-term objectives through an inner drive that typically outlasts and outperforms external pressures.

Here is a closer look at how life coaches teach their clients about the many benefits of intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic Motivation Starts with Asking the Right Questions

A global study by the International Coach Federation found that over 78% of life coach clients described ‘motivator’ as their life coach’s main role (IFC, 2009). As clients of all backgrounds are often in search of powerful motivation techniques, coaches must first determine how their clients are typically driven. Coaches should ask clients about past successes and their perceived causes, and determine the most suitable intrinsic motivators.

While extrinsically motivated people are often receptive and adaptable to external factors, their motivation is less likely to yield long-term progress. An effective coach can empower clients by questioning the extrinsic motivators clients consider to be out of their control. These questions can erode unhelpful beliefs and help them transition to intrinsic motivation, encouraging clients to embrace their passions and interests, rather than respond to external fears or rewards (Dorsey, 2010).

Encouraging Intrinsic Motivation Is Part of Becoming a Life Coach

Becoming a life coach often involves fostering self-motivation in clients. Intrinsic motivation is reinforced through proper coaching behaviour, especially for clients in high-pressure and performance situations (Shields, 2015). Assessing optimal athletic performance, a 1992 study found that athletes were more likely to develop enjoyment and confidence in their sport when coaches provided detailed feedback and praise (Black and Weiss, 1992). Intrinsic motivation is consolidated when clients are encouraged to examine and take ownership of their successes.

becoming a life coach

Intrinsic motivation can come from sensing one’s purpose within a team

The right behaviour helps coaches accelerate the successes of intrinsic motivation. Unlike its extrinsic counterpart, intrinsic motivation can be perceived as slow and ineffective in the short term. Yet, with proper encouragement and feedback, coaches help their clients connect proximate objectives with long-term ambitions and personal growth.

Intrinsic Motivation Calls on Key Coaching Strategies

Intrinsic motivation strategies help coaches make the most of a life coaching certification. Clients often build intrinsic motivation through visioning—the practice of envisioning successful outcomes. Envisioning these outcomes consolidates inner motivation and discourages behaviours that limit personal development (Dorsey, 2010). With visioning, coaches encourage clients to bring their everyday life into closer alignment with ideal outcomes in work, school, and relationships.

According to a 1999 study, extrinsic factors like rewards and incentives are not merely less effective for long-term motivation, but can in fact weaken an earlier intrinsic drive (Deci et al., 1999). For some clients, coaching must build intrinsic motivation by calming the influence of external distractions. Accordingly, relaxation and meditation exercises can help clients shut out daily anxieties, and locate a lasting inner drive (Dorsey, 2010).

life coaching certification

Morning meditation can help clients eliminate nagging concerns throughout the day

Do you want to help others build powerful motivation strategies?

Contact Rhodes Wellness College to know more about our diploma programs and certified life coach training.


Works Cited

Bénabou R. and J Tirole (2003). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation. Review of Economic Studies 70, 489-520. Retrieved from: https://www.princeton.edu/~rbenabou/papers/RES2003.pdf

Black, J. S. and M. R. Weiss (1992). The Relationship Among Perceived Coaching Behaviors, Perceptions of Ability, and Motivation in Competitive Age-Group Swimmer. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology 14 (3), 309-325. Retrieved from: https://journals.humankinetics.com/doi/abs/10.1123/jsep.14.3.309?journalCode=jsep

Deci E. L. (1971). Effects of externally mediated rewards on intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 18 (1), 105-115. Retrieved from: http://psycnet.apa.org/record/1971-22190-001

Deci E. L., Koestner R., Ryan R. M. (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Bulletin 125 (6), 627–668. Retrieved from: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3374/fde0f00aa20810beaba27f1fe4bd54529dae.pdf

Dorsey, Candace L. (2010) Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation and the Coaching Process. Retrieved from: http://www.lifecoachtraining.com/blog/entry/intrinsic_vs._extrinsic_motivation_and_the_coaching_process

International Coach Federation (2009) Global Study. Results retrieved from: http://www.1stprinciplegroup.com/faq/how-effective-is-coaching-statistics/

Shields, T. (2015). Developing intrinsic motivation… The role of the coach. Retrieved from: http://believeperform.com/performance/developing-intrinsic-motivation-the-role-of-the-coach/

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  • CPCA
  • ACCT

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