We can gain valuable information about motivation by studying the heart and how it functions to keep us alive. During my training as a pharmaceutical sales representative, I received cardiovascular instruction to prepare me to sell a drug for treating heart disease. There were two components of my cardiovascular education I use to this day. They are the characteristics of the heart and the equation for blood pressure. To truly experience motivation from the heart we must demonstrate these qualities.
The heart has 4 main characteristics. They are as follows:
- Automatism – the heart can generate its own impulse to initiate the heart beat
- Contractility – the heart has the ability to contract, which is to do work
- Conductivity – the heart conducts and therefore, sustain electrical impulses
- Compensatory mechanism – the heart can create additional arteries to help supply oxygen to areas where existing arteries are blocked
Just as the heart has the ability to generate a signal to get started, we should have automatism built into the fabric of our personality and value system. We need to be self starters. Our biological clock must have an alarm to awaken our desire to achieve. Additionally, we should align ourselves with people who also demonstrate this trait.
People with automatism instinctively start, regardless of the changes in their environment. The heart has an SA node, the sino-atrial node which is the network of nerves that are responsible for the impulse that triggers the heart beat. Each person is hotwired with his or her own hot button. What is your SA node? Do you know the triggers, switches and hot button to turn on your ignition to drive toward greatness?
The best workers are those who are doing what they love. They are using their talents and skills in a career or area suited to their interests and passions. Individuals in the right job utilize their values, beliefs and purpose to propel them to higher levels of performance. They have the spark that provides their own ignition.
Contractility is the second trait, which is expressed as the ability to do work. The heart when faced with increased demand or workload will beat faster. We must work smarter and harder when the challenges are higher and more difficult. We need to spend the time and effort, exhibit the stamina and energy to reach our potential and expected outcomes. We don’t need people to carry around a motivational defibrillator to frequently jump start our attitude. Some employees are great workers when things are calm, but when the tension rises they fall apart and become less productive. We will not become those individuals, because we have lofty career goals.
Individuals may require help during an intermittent crisis in morale, but the matter should be temporary and should not be needed often. A motivational pacemaker, would be a drain on time and resources. These pacemakers and defibrillators can become habit forming and lead to entitlement and an always need to be rescued mentality. The resulting motivation is effective only if the stimulant is always present. If the external stimulant is a manager or threat of disciplinary action, the long term motivational impact is doubtful.
Conductivity is the third trait. It is important because we must sustain the desire and commitment needed to do the work. The heart is like a battery. It can distribute power that is stored inside. The drive must be rejuvenated over time with the stamina and repetition to achieve results. The need for continuous external stimulation is not desirable. Conductive people are enthusiastic and easily identified by their ability to transmit this energy and enthusiasm to others.
Conductive workers are usually positive role models. They are the ambassadors of the purpose, mission and goals of the group. They lead by example and can be counted on to support the goals of the organization. We must be people who cause a positive chain reaction and a current of courage and collaboration to achieve results.
The heart’s compensatory ability is the fourth characteristic. It is shown by its ability to create new arteries to go around the blocked areas to deliver oxygen to the region of the heart that is not getting enough blood flow. When motivation is in short supply in the workplace, this compensatory mechanism has protective properties to keep people fired up and dedicated to reach the goal.
We are expected to compensate, adjust and adapt to forces within our environment. When barriers confront us while completing responsibilities, we need to think of creative measures to work around the obstacles. Innovation and flexibility are requirements in these changing times and versatile people with compensatory abilities are in great demand.
Work versus Resistance
The other major component related to the heart is the blood pressure equation. Blood pressure exists in the Circulatory System and serves as another way of illustrating the concept of motivation. Blood pressure in the body can be displayed in a simple equation.
CO (Cardiac Output) X TPR (Total Peripheral Resistance) = Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is a function of cardiac output (CO) and total peripheral resistance (TPR). CO is the work the heart performs, when it beats. The heart works against TPR, resistance in the arteries. If the heart works harder, this will increase blood pressure. If the resistance goes up, there will be an increase in blood pressure. The resistance is like the drag that an airplane experiences in flight. It is like the head wind that causes friction that could slow down the plane.
Work X Resistance = Success (Quality of life, performance, results, etc.)
The equation can also apply to life. If quality of life or success is the goal of motivation, we can say it is influenced by the amount of work we do in the face of the internal and external resistance in our environment. If we want to improve our quality of life or success, we have to be motivated to do more work or reduce the resistance or competition.
Resistance is an obstacle and can represent people, environment, lack of resources, competition, peers, attitudes and other circumstances. As the resistance increases, we must counteract by working harder and more efficient. If we can reduce the resistance, we minimize the barriers to our quality of life, but we must still do the work.
Leadership should recognize and reward, motivated performance and establish an environment of positivity, optimism and development. Workers must ensure that their communication arteries and career arteries aren’t clogged with bad habits, unhealthy attitudes (entitlement and negativity) and a failure to give their best performance. We must also encourage each other to greater performance levels of excellence.
When we speak of motivation from the heart, the correlation between how the heart works and what is needed today is very strong. We must be heart smart in developing ourselves and the people around us. We should look to the heart and emulate the qualities of automatism, conductivity, contractility and compensatory mechanisms. We should also remind ourselves of the blood pressure equation and the relationship of work and resistance. We can influence success, quality of life, performance and results by affecting the quality and quantity of work we produce against the various levels of resistance.