A Prelude to Ego Oriented vs Task Oriented Motivation
NOTE: I have been asked a lot of questions about Ego Oriented vs. Task Oriented motivational climates. The next few articles will deal with this, and the following antidote will serve as a good segue into the individual topics.
I have this memory of a conversation. I was a child and my father had a standardized test score sheet in his hands. It was an Iowa Test of Basic Skills, if I’m not mistaken, and he was talking to me about areas where I needed to improve. Laughably, the only areas where I WASN’T in the 99th percentile were Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. Furthermore, I was somewhere between the 90th and 95th percentile in these.
It’s a miracle that I’m not more mentally screwed up than I already am.
I often ponder if my parents TRULY meant well. I’d like to think that creating a child with an Ego Orientation wasn’t their end-game, but it is hard to tell. More likely, they were seeking to fill some sort of gaps in their own lives, by using me. I find it hard to impartially judge the way I was dealt with as a child, because I have no children of my own.
Both academically and athletically, I have alway had an Ego Orientation with regards to my motivation.
I wasn’t sure how to label this prior to my formal education, although I realized that something wasn’t quite right. Granted, I am intelligent enough to excel in various intellectual pursuits, but I also had a tendency to avoid any types of challenges that I didn’t think I could dominate. I did the same thing athletically. It wasn’t about personal mastery of an educational subject or athletic task, it was about looking better than my peers.
As such, I became a rampant self handicapper and failure avoider. I’ve written about this ad nauseam, so click on the links for more details about these particular afflictions. Oftentimes I wonder how many experiences I missed out on because I was more worried about how I compared to others than mastering specific domains.
Being ego oriented is not necessary a bad thing, as I will explain in upcoming articles. This is another grey area, and this type of motivation exists on a continuum with task orientation. To oversimplify: it is ok to be personally Ego Oriented if you are also Task Oriented. However, your overall climate (home, team, etc.) should be Task Oriented lest you lose motivation when you don’t stack up. This will make sense in a few articles.
This type of orientation still creeps up on me. I often find myself comparing myself to others and being reluctant to compete. I claim that I don’t care about getting the highest score in any class I may be taking, but secretly, I do.
We all have Ego Oriented tendencies in certain areas. What are yours? Have you ever thought about this? If so, what are your plans to conquer this and move on?
Stay tuned for more elaboration on this topic.