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(Re-)Teaching the Voice In Our Heads

My six year old sat at the dinner table last night and said, “I’m terrible at opinion writing.” A few tears and probing questions later revealed that she was expected to produce a certain quantity of writing. Not being able to meet first grade quota had caused her to opine she was a terrible writer.

Thankfully at six years old that voice can be easily redirected. But that voice can grow exponentially more powerful and limiting as an adult. 

I asked people on every major social media platform to answer the question, “What is the worst thing you have ever told yourself professionally?” These are just some of the responses that came back:

“I will always be mediocre.” 

“I am not cut out to do the work I am passionate about.”

“Why would people buy from me?”

“I am not qualified to be here. It is just a matter of time before they find out.”

“I’m afraid they can lie more convincingly than I can tell the truth.”

“Maybe they are right.”

“There is no point. Why bother.”

“Go get a real job and stop dreaming.”

What does the world stand to lose if our doubts and fears become our reality? What if we could shift our thinking? What does the world stand to gain if we can learn to manage and reconstitute that voice in our head?

According to David Naylor, Executive Vice President of Global Learning and Development at 2logical, that voice in our head is a simplified definition of Motivational IntelligenceTM. The broader definition, according to 2logical, is “...the study of what causes people to act and/or react a certain way to life’s situations/experiences.” 2logical, “The World’s Leading Expert in Motivational IntelligenceTM” contends those that possess this capacity:

  • Hold themselves accountable to their aspirations

  • They seek out and adapt in response to feedback

  • They are eternal optimists and possess an Energizer Bunny-like perseverance

  • They are doers and show a bias toward action

  • And they refuse to let fear and comfort dictate their opportunities

If reading this makes you feel you have a few things to work on, there is good news. When asked if Motivational IntelligenceTM is something that can be learned, Naylor responded with an emphatic, “Yes!”  In fact, 2logical exists because of the belief that organizational performance can be significantly enhanced when we leverage training around mindset.

2logical trains employees at all levels within organizations ranging from small companies to industry leaders. What they have found, according to Naylor, is that “...when Motivational IntelligenceTM training is paired with skill-based training, learning becomes sticky.” Indeed, follow up with employees who had undergone Motivational IntelligenceTM training through 2logical reported overwhelmingly that they were using the learnings from that training on a daily basis, even nine months post-training. 

According to Naylor, we all possess Motivational IntelligenceTM. In fact, in some cases, children possess a higher degree of it than adults who have been conditioned to think in terms of limitations vs. possibilities.  Without Motivational IntelligenceTM, we would never have believed ourselves capable of walking, talking, learning to ride a bike, or even applying for our first job. But the degree to which we can decondition the negative voice in our head and recondition it to encourage us to get back up, take initiative, be brave, and push through fear, is the degree to which we will ultimately be successful in whatever we endeavor. This is true of us personally and of our organizations.

As a parent and educator, it knocked the wind out of me to know this training is in high demand among professional adults. Clearly there is more we can be doing to help kids harness the intrinsic Motivational IntelligenceTM with which they come hardwired.

In my own family, this evening’s dinner conversation is going to start with, “What are some of the things you said to yourself today?” I see more clearly that we can be taught to identify and differentiate between positive and negative thoughts. Processing those thoughts externally and teaching ourselves to challenge them by examining the triggers, evidence, and impact on actions seems like a reasonable first step.

In schools, isn’t “sticky learning” the goal? At a time where Social Emotional Learning demands are at an all time high PK-12 and the need for “soft skills” dominates Higher Ed and workplace conversations, it seems all but intuitive to layer Motivational IntelligenceTM with content and skills. Learning about ecosystems through the lens of resilience, college and career counseling through the lens of initiative, social justice issues through the lens of accountability, and health through the lens of courage are a few of the limitless possibilities for which schools must make room if they are to share responsibility.

For all of us it bears consideration: What do we, our families, our organizations, and the world stand to lose or gain if we are ruled by the voice in our heads? Somehow it feels like our future depends upon that voice being motivationally intelligentTM.

At the very least, clearly my kid’s future as an editorial columnist does...

If you are interested in partnering with 2Logical to grow the Motivational IntelligenceTM of your organization, you can reach out to David Naylor by connecting with him on LinkedIn or via email at

© 2018 4Good Consulting   |   P.O. Box 1604, Litchfield, CT 06759     (203) 980-0292

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