When Deakin MBA alumnus Gavin Freeman finished high school, his dream was to become a lawyer. The proposition that he would be coaching elite athletes as a sport psychologist during various Olympic campaigns and eventually open his own consulting business, was as far-fetched as publishing a book on motivation. But as Gavin will attest, we know now sometimes our passions often lead us in different directions.
Fast-track to 2016, and after doing all of the above, Gavin is now travelling around the globe to promote Just stop motivating me, a new way of looking at why we act the way we do, and how we can create smarter work environments.
He explains that the underlying message of his newest book is for organisations to really re-think motivation and try to understand the context and the environment that allows people to be motivated.
‘Through this process I developed a model of motivation that suggests that inherently, everybody is actually motivated.
‘The only differentiating factor is what’s driving that motivation.’
Gavin proposes a continuum, which suggests that our motivation can alter depending on our environment and the context we are operating in. His continuum posits a scale, shifting from being motivated to succeed to being motivated to avoid failure.
‘All of us will potentially operate across that continuum. When we are motivated to succeed we see failure as a stepping stone to success, while when we are motivated to avoid failure we are focused on the negative evaluation of ourselves by ourselves or others.
‘What we also need to do, is shift people’s goals from being outcome focused to being task focused,’ he explains.
The book has been well-received in Australia and around the globe and is another major milestone on what Gavin explains as career journey that’s been nothing short of exciting.
‘I initially trained as a sports and performance psychologist and was lucky enough to be part of several Olympic campaigns, and work as a member of the Australian Institute of Sports psychology team.
‘I was part of the 2006 Olympic campaign in Turin and had the opportunity to work with a gold medal-winning athlete. I also went to the Sydney Paralympics Games and worked with the 2003 World Cup Tongan rugby team.
‘Along the way I have also been very lucky to build a career, which has taken me to countries including India, Mongolia, China, Singapore and Malaysia,’ he smiles.
When Gavin decided to change his career and move from psychology into the business world, he found that many organisations weren’t particularly interested or couldn’t see how a sport psychology degree and working with high-performing athletes could be translated into the realm of HR or various training roles.
‘To bridge the gap, I enrolled in the Deakin MBA and altered my CV to reflect my determination to gain a further education.
‘The reaction from the corporate world was a complete 180 degrees. I received numerous phone calls from potential clients, who could see the benefits of the high-performing sporting world meeting everyday business, and understood that an MBA was going to give me the necessary insights into the corporate world.’
He recalls that Deakin’s experience-based learning environment was significantly more beneficial to his learning journey, as opposed to the more traditional lecture, assignment, exam approach, which is often the case with many other institutions.
‘I completed multiple residentials and found the networking through these was fantastic and benefitted my current business immensely,’ he recalls.
‘In my own boutique consulting company, we specialise in building high-performing teams who perform well under pressure. Within that we have a significant focus on driving innovation, building strategic business plans and the final piece of the puzzle is running crisis and emergency management simulation programs – enabling companies to return to business as usual post a crisis.
‘Studying the MBA gave me a broader perspective that really enabled me to transition into my current career.’
Gavin’s five key-points on motivation
- Understand yourself - before thinking about motivation, you need to first understand yourself. The broader question is not about what you need to do to be motivated, it’s actually about why you need to be motivated in the first place. Don’t ask yourself ‘what should I be doing’, but rather ‘why am I doing this in the first place’.
- Clarify your passion - ask yourself why you are studying, why you are passionate about the subject matter and why you actually love what you are doing?
- Start the day with a clear determination – your mindset is the only aspect of your life, which you have total control over. You thus get to determine the tone of your day, each and every day.
- Understanding your signs and symptoms – recognise how you present when you are shifting from being motivated to succeed to being motivated to avoid failure and act on this shift.
- Understand the shadow you cast - when you shift to being a leader, there are some additional things to consider. As a leader you need to understand the shadow you cast and consider its magnification. How do you impact others around you?
- Courage - the final piece of the puzzle is to understand what courage is. Part of being an effective individual is understanding what motivates you and courage is simply the step where you take charge. You can’t have courage unless you have all the other components in place.
Gavin Freeman’s book includes a range of tips and insights, as well as interviews with high-profile leaders and managers from around the globe. You can purchase a copy on his website.