Can one move mountains? Can one achieve the impossible? Yes! says Dashrath Manjhi, the man who single-handedly carved a path through a mountain. The inspiring life of the Mountain Man echoes volumes that stronger than mountains, even more, powerful than destiny, is an indomitable human will, motivated to succeed.

Have you ever wondered what gets you up every morning, ready for another challenging day? What inner force makes you go that extra mile at your workplace? In short, what is your motivation, the fuel that drives your engine?

Rafael Nadal, one of the all-time tennis greats, has been dominating the courts for over a decade now. When asked what keeps him going, Rafa’s answer was – “My main motivation comes from an everlasting will to play, to compete, and to feel the sensations that always hit me when I participate in big tournaments. I just love to do what I do, and the passion is always there.”

Human motivation is a fascinating topic for psychologists, educators, and managers alike because of its far-reaching and life-altering impacts on all areas of human activity. Identifying and appropriately channelizing human motivation can take us to the pinnacle of achievement. Imagine a world where each one of us could be a Manjhi, a Rafa, in our spheres!

What Is Human Motivation?

Motivation comes from the root word ‘motive’ which means need, want, desire or drive. It is what compels people to initiate action, work towards goals and achieve them. In simple terms, motivation explains why we do what we do.

Types of Human Motivation

There are two sources of human motivation.

Intrinsic motivation or self-motivation comes from within us. We are self-motivated to eat when hungry, sleep when tired, exercise at the gym to keep fit, groom ourselves to look smart, or do a course we enjoy. 

Extrinsic motivation includes those external factors that motivate us to act, such as incentives, rewards, praise, social recognition etc.

Morsella, Bargh and Gollwitzer, 2009 summed up types of human motivation as, “Some of our motives to act are biological, while others have personal and social origins. We are motivated to seek food, water, and sex, but our behaviour is also influenced by social approval, acceptance, the need to achieve, and the motivation to take or to avoid risks, to name a few.”

This means that our actions are usually directed by a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and influenced by variables such as personality traits and emotions. 

Research has found that extrinsic motivators, while attractive and encouraging, give short-term results. Boundless energy and ever-lasting enthusiasm to succeed can arise only from intrinsic motivation. 

So while going over these words, have a quick think about your motivators to work, study or get into relationships – are they extrinsic or intrinsic? If you are goaded on predominantly by extrinsic motivators, it may be a good time to rethink whether you are really in a space you want to be in or find reasons that motivate you from within.

Theories of Human Motivation

Psychologists came up with many theories to explain human motivation and how it develops.  These theories of human motivation have been used to understand and influence human behaviour. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory

Maslow’s theory was one of the first viable explanations for human motivation. Despite many limitations, Maslow’s theory formed the basis of most other theories of human motivation.

Maslow theorised human motivation as the fulfilment of five basic needs in order of lower-order needs, followed by successively higher-order needs. The hierarchy of needs was iron-clad and one could move to a higher level only once the preceding lower-order needs were met.


Food, water, sleep, shelter and procreation are basic needs required for human beings to live and survive., and are primary sources of human motivation. Every human being strives to fulfil these first.


Once the basic needs are met, a person can think about their personal safety, physical and emotional health as well as financial security.

Love and belonging:

A person who is secure about himself and his belongings can now focus on social needs such as relationships with others – family, spouses, friends etc.  The need to identify with a larger set of people such as community or social groups also develops here.

Maslow considered the first three needs as lower-order needs and the remaining two as higher needs. 


Source of human motivation relates to how a person is seen by themselves and others. So self-respect, self-esteem, respect and esteem of others, status, and need for acknowledgement and recognition gain prominence.


Once the other four needs are satisfied, fulfilling one’s full potential as a human being becomes the prime driver of human motivation. This includes education, refining one’s talents and skills or achieving excellence in a chosen field. 

The Regal coaching model is inspired by Maslow’s need for self-actualisation and extends self-actualisation to #Being.  Self-actualization is often confused with Nirvana. But at Regal Unlimited we call it the full #potential of the client. 

With millennials and even others, it is considered the hierarchy of needs is not necessarily a linear progression. One can worry about food, and at the same time think of self-actualization. The need for social status and esteem can co-exist (or even precede) with the basic physiological needs (Thanks to Social media) 

Which need or needs on Maslow’s Pyramid are your current priority? Identifying them would give you a fair idea of your motives for doing what you do

Alderfer’s Erg Theory 

Alderfer improved upon Maslow’s theory. He reorganised Maslow’s needs into three core needs – existence, relatedness and growth. Contrary to Maslow’s strict hierarchy, Alderfer claimed at a person could be fulfilling these needs simultaneously or independently, depending upon their goals, status and environment.

McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y

People have a negative (Theory X) or positive (theory Y) point of view about human nature. Applying this theory to organisations, Theory X managers are authoritarian – they feel that employees do not like their work and so should be controlled or coerced into action.  In contrast, Theory Y managers are democratic – they feel that their employees like work and so can be trusted with responsibilities.

Leadership based on emotions, or situations, demand a flexible style of leadership – Depending on people, instead of a primary style of the leader. Also situations within that. And of course, emotions too. All are interrelated. One size fits all approach is no longer valid. Coaching can help a leader discover these hidden facets.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory or Motivation-Hygiene Theory

Two factors influence an employee – hygiene factors such as salary, job security, work environment etc, and motivation factors such as professional growth, recognition etc. Motivation factors are more important than hygiene factors for employee satisfaction.

No single theory has been able to completely explain human motivation. But a combination of them has been applied to different fields with considerable success. Coaching unlocks the true intrinsic source of motivation. Through Coaching conversations, leaders are able to unravel true sources of motivation within themselves!

What Truly Drives Human Behaviour?  

The driving force of nature and all of creation is – evolution towards perfection. As creatures of nature, could we be so different? The fuel of human motivation itself is the primordial need to evolve, to be more than we are, to be all that we can. The highest point of Maslow’s pyramid, self-actualisation, reflects this need.

Fulfil your potential and live regally

‘Why is it that we are all born with limitless potential, yet few people fulfil those possibilities?’, asked Abraham Maslow.

Everyone aspires to fulfil their full potential, some know what that potential is, but very few know how to achieve it. The irony is that every answer to the what, and every tool to the how lies within the individual. Through coaching, one can unlock these hidden solutions and accelerate the process of evolution. 

Regal Unlimited’s ICF-certified coaches are the best partners you can have on this journey, having gone through the process themselves. They function as extrinsic motivators who can identify and trigger your intrinsic motivators to fuel your engine, lifelong. As inexhaustible fountains of motivation, Regal coaches will be there by your side as you grow, evolve and live your full potential as monarchs of the domain you choose. 

Discover your potential as a leader with a legacy by partnering with the best leadership coaches in India

Unleash your executive prowess through our exclusive executive coaching program!

Explore the best versions of yourselves as people, partners, parents or professionals through life coaching!

Become an inspirational influence and give back to society by becoming ICF-certified coaches through our ICF-ACC program.

Why wait? Start your journey to be more than you are, to be all that you can!

Grow, Evolve and Live, Regal. 

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