How Intrinsic Motivation Drives us at a Young Age | #BeaconforceStories

Intrinsic Drive

I have been often asked about real life examples of an intrinsic drive. Recently, one of my friends gave birth to an adorable baby girl, Aria. Early on, her parents and others took care of everything — feeding, cleaning, massaging, attracting her attention with shiny and noise creating objects etc. and then something amazing started to happen.

At about 4 months, she started rolling onto her stomach more often. And then she started to move in random directions by ‘swimming’ with her hands and feet. A few weeks later she started doing the equivalent of knee push-ups and this was the most adorable thing ever — even though she kept falling face first into her crib or floor, and cried now and then, but she kept repeating.

At about 7 months old, she was able to point at things she wanted and could also ‘stand’ on her knees while holding things. As she began to stand on her knees unaided, she would fall backwards — then be stunned as to why that happened, roll over to her stomach, push herself up and repeat. And around the time she was nine or ten months old, something more amazing happened.

Sense of Improvement

I was watching from a distance as my friend grabbed Aria’s attention from about 5 feet away. Aria smiled, and then she pushed herself on to her feet, stood unsteadily for a few seconds and then fell on her bum. She looked at her mom in an ‘oh-oh’ like manner and then laughed. Then, she tries to stand up again, steadies herself unsurely, looks at her mom, and then, takes one, two and three steps! By the time she’s has taken three steps, her entire body is leaning forward, her head is far in front of her legs and she falls face first! Thankfully onto a soft baby floor mat.

She starts crying right away, sits up, and looks at her mom. In a couple minutes, she wipes off her tears and repeats the entire process! This time around, Aria is close enough for her mother to catch her, as she is falling to the mat. Her mom promptly lifts her off the ground and embraces Aria lovingly!

Learning Journey

I can’t but help think of Aria’s journey of walking as a study in intrinsic drive. She has clear goals — she has to get to her mom. Challenges are well balanced — success sometimes, failure sometimes but not to the point of giving up. Feedback is rapid — she knows when it hurts!. Social interaction is very high — her mom is always cajoling Aria and encouraging her. The sensation of improvement is high — Aria knows that she is doing better with each try. Risk attitude is in the sky — Even after falling flat on her face so many times, she shrugs it off and keeps soldiering. Also, her mom allows her to fall (knowing that it is a soft surface) and Aria keeps learning from her experience. The sensation of control is also probably high — each time she knows (I hope, haha) that the output, falling forward or falling backward or moving forward, has changed because of something she has done.

By Christie Reji, Co-founder, and CIO at Beaconforce

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