The question that arises is, “who motivates you?” Is it a person, is it peer group, is it incentives, or is it the environment? The contention of this chapter is that no matter what, it is you who motivates you. Excuses, blame, and alibi will not negate this fact. Nobody can motivate you. You must assume the responsibility to motivate yourself within the environment in which you find yourself. Some individuals are motivated by positive happenings within their life, while others succeed through adversity.


One person who has motivated by his failures was Dan Jensen, Olympic speed skater. After failing to receive the gold medal in three previous Olympic Games, he went on to become a gold medal winner in the 1994 Winter Olympic Games. He had been expected to win the gold medal in previous Olympic Games, but through disastrous fall or unexpected losses, he was unable to accomplish that goal. But through this trials and failures, he was determined to make them lead him to success and his ultimate goal, a gold medal in the 1994 Winter Olympics’ 1,000-meter race. Failures can bring success!

On the other hand, what would have happened to Bonnie Blair if she had experienced the same fate as Dan Jensen? She culminated her career with five gold medals and had at least one medal in each of the previous three Olympics. No one can say or even guess the answer since she was motivated by her successes each time, instead of her failures. Mistakes can have either a positive or negative effect on the motivational environment, but end to be demotivational when punished rather than realizing that people who are doing something are going to make mistakes.

In a recent article, Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft, stated, “Reacting calmly and constructively to a mistake is not the same as taking it lightly. Every employee must understand that management cares about mistakes and is on top of fixing problems. But setbacks are normal, especially among people and companies trying new things”.

Regardless of all the efforts made to assure that no accidents, injuries, or work-related illnesses occur, there will still be, at times, mistakes made and negative outcomes that occur. When this happens, this should be an incentive to try even harder; do not trash the safety and health effort over a setback.


The basis for motivation seems to be in our perceptions of ourselves. These perceptions govern our behavior and support the concept of self-motivation. In order for people motivates themselves, there must be meaning in what they are doing. If they do not perceive that the goal set before them will satisfy their needs, they cannot possibly motivate themselves to accomplish it.

You must realize that no matter how unrealistic a perception may seem to us, it is reality to the person who holds it. No matter how we try to debunk a perception, there is always some degree of truth and reality within it and, therefore, it is very real to that person.

Individual will not be well motivated to work safely unless they have internalized the goals and expectation of the company. It is not enough for them to know that they will be fired for violation of a safety rule, they need to be motivated to perform their work safely even when there is no one watching them.

People must be inspired to be accountable to them-selves. If they put their goals and plans on paper, then they take possession of their own behavior to a greater extent. This motivates them to do something and gives them the time, direction, and a reason to find new or better ways to accomplish their goals and plans. As many experts will advise, you should put your goals or plans in writing. If you cannot write it down, then you probably will never achieve it.

(Charles D Reese and James Vernon Eidson, 2006)

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