Sharath is one of the world's leading experts on re-igniting our inner drive (intrinsic motivation). His groundbreaking book "Intrinsic" has received glowing endorsements ranging from leading smart-thinking writers like Dan Heath and Nir Eyal, to business and education leaders to the former Prime Minister of Greece.
377 Unlocking Motivation
How do we motivate our kids to do well—in school, and in life? In this episode I talk to motivation expert Sharath Jeevan about the things we do that kill motivation and how we can help our kids become passionate contributors to our future world instead.
Unlocking Motivation - Sharath Jeevan 
*This is an auto-generated transcript*
[00:00:00] Sharath Jeevan: I think we've had a whole, trend towards spoonfeeding kids and helicopter Parenting, but I think if we can start to try to move away from that and show them that they have a lot more choice.
[00:00:14] Hunter: You're listening to the Mindful Mama Podcast, episode number 377. Today we're talking about how to unlock your kids' motivation with Sha Givon.
Welcome to the Mindful Mama podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. At Mindful Mama, we know that you cannot give what you do not have. And when you have calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, hunter Clark Fields. I help smart, thoughtful parents stay calm so they can have strong, connected relationships with their children.
I've been practicing mindfulness for over 20 years. I'm the creator of Mindful parent. And I'm the author of the best selling book, raising Good Humans, A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting, and Raising Kind Confident Kids. Hey, welcome back to the Mindful Mama podcast. So glad you're here today.
It's gonna be a powerful episode. But listen, if you haven't done so yet, please hit the subscribe button so you never miss an episode. And if you've ever gotten anything from this podcast, please do me a favor, go over to Apple Podcast, leave us a rating and review. We are all, our growth is organic and it helps the podcast grow more.
It takes 30 seconds and I greatly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. And in just a moment, I am going to be sitting down with Sheriff Givon. Sheriff is one of the world's leading experts on reigniting our inner drive intrinsic motivation. He has a groundbreaking book, intrinsic. It's received glowing endorsements from incredible education leaders.
Even the Prime Minister of Greece, he was awarded the O B E, which is the queen's honor in England, and his work has been appeared in the New York Times, economist, et cetera. And we're going to talk about how do we motivate our kids to do well? How do we motivate them to do well in school and in life? And we're gonna talk about what are the things that we do that kill motivation, and how can we help our kids be passionate contributors instead?
So join me at the table as I talk Tohar Jivan. So I'm excited to talk to you and dear listener, I've already talked to Sharath because he and I are fellow speakers at a big global Parenting conference that in Abu Dhabi this November, 2022. So we're gonna be hanging out in person and talking, but we've already talked and I'm so excited to share with you his work.
I wanna start sh with like your. I know that you are a child of immigrants. You grew up in the uk and you have become an expert in motivation. What has led you to this this fascination with how we are motivated?
[00:03:04] Sharath Jeevan: Yeah, so as you mentioned immigrant to the uk I'm originally from India. I was born there, but came to the UK very early in life and I think, as many immigrant families have, there was a strong kind of achievement drive right through.
My childhood. I had lots of good things to do that were associated with that, but also I think a lot of challenges as well about how we look to the world and how you see the world. And I think very much a sort of straight line view of the world where, the goal was to get a good education that would get you to a good college.
That would get you to a good job, that would get into, to a nice house and a nice car, and a very up and up you go. That was the mental model that I was exposed to growing up. I think, I'm now 40, 45 and turning 46 soon, and what the one thing I'm really clear, having lived this long and worked this long, is that straight line just doesn't exist anymore.
And what I'm really passionate about is. How do we convey that to our kids in a way that isn't scary? There's something deeply reassuring about that straight line, right? Because you imagine if you get on the right, on that line, you are set for life. How do we do it in a way that really helps kids?
Our kids really embrace the, what I call the zigzag of life. Even revel in that zigzag and embrace it. And that's all to do with the source of our motivation. If we live our life and chase external, or in my language, extrinsic rewards, things like the fancy job or the getting into a top college or getting a perfect grades or playing on this sports team or another one.
We're basically driving our lives entirely driven by the. We're making our fulfillment, happiness, and success conditional on a set of things we don't deeply control, right? In a way that we're relying on the external world. What my work focuses on, how do we move inside when it comes to our motivation?
How do we harness our internal intrinsic motivation so that no matter what happens as an outcome, we are really committed to go down the path we want because we deeply. Believe in that path and find it fulfilling and satisfying in its own right. And I'm really interested in the relationship, both for our children, but also what we need to do as parents in terms of role modeling things differently to help them understand that, that shift in thinking.
I hope that makes
[00:05:36] Hunter: sense. Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense to me. And I think you're right, that is scary, this idea that we don't, there isn't a clear cut path anymore that, and we've been learning that again and again. College doesn't necessarily the weight of the debt of that, doesn't necessarily pay off into the big job.
And there's this gig economy now and things are really changing a lot and it, I think it is scary for parents. And, but at the same time, so are you saying, that kids should just follow their bliss, should just do what they love, like that kind of thing? Because I'm just wondering is that what you're associating with that intrinsic motivation following that, that thing that intrinsically motivates you?
[00:06:30] Sharath Jeevan: Yeah. So I think there's been this whole kind of question about fol your passion, right? And in the States and right, like Scott Galloway, Adam Grant, and being very dismissive of some of this stuff. And I don't think it's about following your passion, right? I think that sort of stuff can be very indulgent.
Like many of us would wanna be. I'm a keen tennis player. I would love to be a professional tennis player. That's not gonna happen, right? Anytime soon. The chancellor that is so low, I love I might love playing the saxophone. Will I be a professional? Saxophonist or playing a band or a music star, that's, it's usually unlikely, right?
So I think this follow the passion sort of angle can also be a big distraction. What I like to, I like to think about these three drivers, these three pillars of intrinsic motivation around purpose, autonomy, and mastery. I'll talk about each one, but I think the big thing for young people and children to think about is how do you follow your purpose?
And by. I define purpose, in the book and in my work as how what we do helps and serves others. And I think if young people have that sense of purpose in what they do, they will get attracted to really deep problems they see out there in the world. And they'll be really interested in solving those problems.
So let me just give you an example of that. So many it's, I just give a talk to my my, my kids' school and to their class. They're 11, my son and his class. And I was asking, what do you guys wanna do? And I was really quite shocked. Like many of them said, I wanna be investment bankers. Many said, I wanna take over the family business, et cetera.
These were 11 year old kids, right? And even at that age, there's such strong material drugs. Not saying that's, we won't want to live a comfortable life. That's nothing wrong with that, of course, but I would love them to say, look I'm really interested in what's happening in the world. I wanna see if I can help, develop new, new medicines for example.
Or I'm really interested in climate, in, in obviously worried about climate change. I'd love to contribute to that in some way. So if we can think. That the challenges we're facing more broadly and nest our purpose in some of those things, we become a lot less self-conscious and we become a lot more open because you, we allow ourselves to get lost by that problem.
There could be a million, zillions of ways we contribute to that, right? If you're interested in climate change and stopping it, you could do that as a, as an activist, you could do that as an, as a scientist. You could do it as a venture capitalist, whatever. There's so many ways in, but that's the problem you deeply care about and that keeps you going, keeps you.
Interested and that sense of helping others through your work. When I'm talking about careers here and specifically, that can be a really powerful intrinsic motivator. And that's the idea of purpose. So it's not indulgent, go off and do some, wacky thing. Cause you can afford to, that's also very dangerous.
But it's really trying to find a compass, a direction that links to how, we wanna help and serve.
[00:09:36] Hunter: I couldn't agree more with this idea that if you're following a purpose, if you're doing, if you have a purpose that is contributing to the greater good of the planet, the society, things like that, it makes you less, less self-conscious.
I could say that completely with the work that I do, to write about all my. Failings as a parent, it wasn't, but it's about something that's larger than me, right? The purpose is something that's larger than me and it's, that's something that is intrinsically motivating for me to, sit down and write or do the different things I'm doing every day to, to keep that.
That purpose really does matter, I think. And so that's interesting. Does, I'm trying to imagine would that lead to a different conversation with our kids about our. Our values, and I'm trying to think of like how I might talk to that. We have these conversations with our kids that are like what do you think you might wanna do when you grow up?
Maybe you can give us a little direction and how to maybe have some of those conversations with weaving. This idea of looking at a greater purpose in
[00:10:52] Sharath Jeevan: mind. Yeah. Andrew, one, one I dunno, goal of this podcast might be to put that you. Scrap that question to the dust bit of history, right? So think about the question, what do you wanna do when you grow up?
What a ridiculous question to ask nowadays. We still ask it unfortunately too many times, but this is my fifth career. I went to some of the best colleges in the world. I went to Oxford, I went to Cambridge University, et cetera. I, that didn't mean that I had some, Giled route through life.
I did some time in consulting. I ran a startup, I worked at the NGO sector. And I spent the last 15 years as a social entrepreneur looking at really deep questions around education. That was where the sort of area that I really got excited by about that question of purpose. And so instead I'd ask kids what really interests you in the world?
What do you feel passionate about? And from them, they can weave many different careers through. That piece. And the way I'd often think about, this is a bit of a technical word, but let me use it anyway. I think if the parents, we can talk about this idea of wicked problems rather than kind problems. Let me just give an example of that.
So look at our, how these last two and a half years have rolled out with the pandemic, the science of everything around, how we get the vaccines and so on. That's been relatively straightforward. That's the kind part, right? There is a stable technical solution to the pandemic, but the wicked side, which is about the human element of it, right?
It's much how do we organize ourselves? What are the trade offs in having lockdowns, how do we regulate travel, for example, within a country, outside of country, how much are we willing to risk freedom versus, our right to good health. All of these questions we've made in most countries, and actually the UK is a good example, a real.
Of many of these questions. Yeah. So I think if we can really get kids to think more deeply about some of these really key human problems out there, what are they excited about and they can find something they really enjoy. I think if they get immersed into that problem. They can read about it, maybe they can read The Economist if they're a little bit older or watch some document, whatever it might be, or talk to people working in these areas.
[00:13:03] Hunter: KTA videos. My, my daughters are obsessed with Keta videos. Amazing. Amazing. Which are I? If you haven't seen a kta video, dear listener, go on YouTube and look up. I have no idea. I'm sorry, how to spell Kte, but check it out. I'm gonna check out. I totally interrupted.
[00:13:21] Sharath Jeevan: No, I'm gonna check it out myself. So that's a great tip as well.
Yeah. But explain to what's going out in the world as well. Helping think about their role in a broader sense. I think you know, a lot of employers, I work with some of the largest employees in the world right now as clients, my work, and there's all these questions about, are we, when people, people come into the workplace, are they equipped?
Those questions are almost never about technical skills. This is probably the most educated generation where they're. I had, which is great, but it's about the kind of mental models and commitment that sometimes, there's a perception young people may not always have. A lot of it, I think, is that they're holding back and they're almost, they can almost feel, it can almost feel scary to put yourself out there, to take a risk, to really put everything on the line in, in a role, in a job, and so on as well.
And I think there's almost that sense of self consciousness I sometimes find in. Young entrance, the workforce nowadays, if they can almost abandon that, forget about themselves, think about the problem at hand, and just do what's needed to make a contribution to that problem. All of this stuff about job promotions, job titles, all that stuff.
Gets through out the window, they'll just make a real impact in their work. They'll get recognized as a result and that will lead to promotion. Ironically, this is a great way to get promoted, but it's not by targeting those things, it's by getting lost in a broad, broader problem. So I think, in short, that's, it's scrap this question of what do you wanna be, what job do you wanna do?
That's a redundant question. I think the question of what problem do you want to contribute? That's a much more powerful question we can ask our kids.
[00:15:02] Hunter: We wanna think about what problem can you contribute to, and how can we start these conversations? How do you start these conversations with your 11 year old without going back to that fear factor, right?
Without the fear of all the problems in the world and becoming overwhelmed and subsumed by all the problems of the world. I, of course, it's a matter of talking. About things in a developmentally appropriate manner with kids and not overwhelming them, but I'm imagining you're gonna say follow their curiosity.
But how do you do it with your child?
[00:15:39] Sharath Jeevan: Yeah. So I think one of the you said to me, very powerful hunter about this idea of toxic individuality, right? And I think that has been how we've lived. And let's face it, that's how our generation has led the world, right? And that's what's caused many of the problem is whether you look.
Inequality to climate change. It's been, or Black Lives Matter. Anything we look at it's that consequence of that. And I think what I hear talking to a lot of young people is they really want a different way of leading and being in the world, and there's a kind of rejection of what happened in the past.
So I think let's embrace that and say, look and say is that I was, look, we messed things up and I'm willing to, I tell my kids that, like myself, my generation, we haven't done a great job right in. In where the world is right now. And we should feel responsible for that. We can't just continue, our mental models and our assumptions.
We've gotta rethink them. And I think a lot of young people would really embrace that, from what I've seen. They want a different way of thinking about it, so that will hopefully reassure them. And I think the sense also that, I talk a lot about autonomy and in a second pillar of motivation, that sense of being at the wheel, being able to really have real agency and what to make an impact and so on.
I think often young people feel quite powerless right now. As you said, these problems are so big that they almost feel like lost in them in that way, or they feel dwarfed by the problems. It's really helping them see yeah, this, they, climate change is an enormous problem, but you can make a real difference through a very tangible way.
If you work in a company and you help them with their sustainability, for example or part of a committee, whatever it might, you can make a really tangible difference in the world as well. So it's this kind of balance between helping them see the anomaly of the problem and being curious by that.
So I think that C is very important, but also making it really clear that we can do this one step at a time as well. That every contribution matters. It matters because it will make a small dent in the problem, and those will add up over time. But also it will keep us motivated because we have a sense of purpose.
So a lot of the things we can do about that is to help our kids start to exercise their autonomy. And so small things. So for example, when it comes to if they're in school, for example, are they choosing courses they really enjoy? Are are you what's the word? Coercing or nudging them towards courses that you think are more practical.
For example, they're easy to get a job in. Again, there's a level of that is useful, but actually it's much more important. They feel that they're doing things that they really want to do because if they do they'll really throw themselves into that. They'll have that sense of flow that we talk a lot about that sense of being lost in time, that really deeply engaged in something.
And they'll start to believe and feel that they can make a difference in their own world. And I think we've had a whole, trend towards spoonfeeding kids and. Helicopter Parenting and all the things you talk about in the world class, but I think we can start to try to move away from that and show them actually they have a lot more choice over everything in their lives and that they may think everything from, when you go to a supermarket, give them a shopping list and say, this is what we need.
Please go and choose the things that we think we should look at. Once you look at the labels and see which products are more, Environmentally sustainable to take that example, small things, again, we can really feed that culture of ownership and accountability in big and small.
[00:19:13] Hunter: And that. Yeah.
And that requires responsibility. That requires a level of trust, like giving our kids some autonomy allowing them to make some of their own choices. I love that idea of that example of the supermarket, cuz that's such a simple example of autonomy and responsibility. Where we can be.
In relationship with, rather than sort of power over and let them, and they'll make mistakes and that's okay. Let 'em do it when the stakes are small, like in this, in the supermarket or whatever. But let's, I love that idea. But let, so let's take this and shift this towards school, towards education.
You've done so much work with education and helping, initiatives all around the world. I what, talk to us a little bit about the role of intrinsic versus an extrinsic motivation in education. Cuz what I see in most traditional education in the United States is that there's a lot of extrinsic motivation.
Even, in my kids' Montessori schools, they're. Putting, they're building up stars in the bucket for a pizza party. If they all have like good behavior, that kind of thing. Grades, things like that. What are we do, what is going right and what is not going so well in education as far as motivation goes?
[00:20:42] Sharath Jeevan: Yeah, my kids own school. I think we use that, they use that far too much. As well. Those kind of extrinsic or external motivators. Hunter, as you were saying. So again, things like stars, badges, grades, all that. If kids are doing something because they're basically being conditioned to please others, right?
That's how the education system is configured right now. So all of this stuff is about pleasing other people, showing to other people that you are you're good enough and essentially there's a deep comparison culture built into all of this as well. Everyone is graded against the curve or you are compared how many batches you got versus someone else, and it's the exact opposite of the culture.
We need to. That might have worked in a kind of TAs world where we were in factories and but in the UK for example, there are forecast within half a, within a decade, half of all jobs will be freelance jobs, right? Even for knowledge workers. Right? Forget the gig economy. Even highly educated college workers, they'll be working for themselves.
Having small practices or expertise areas, working with larger organizations, who's gonna give you a badge, right? Or a star. Any of that stuff. It, you have to drive yourself and you have to find ways to keep going. Cause you generally want to, so these are huge distractions. We can use them sometimes to just get a, get initially interested.
For example, if a kid is really struggling to read, yeah, maybe you give them a nice certificate after the first book, after they've told you a few things about it. But once they get into the habit of reading, to use that example, we wanna try and take those things. And then think, ask some questions about what do you learn about that book?
Did you really enjoy, what could other books be in the same library or bookshelf that would help you go deeper? Back to that follow the curiosity type piece as well. So the whole education system right now in, in most countries, I think is not helping us. It's actually hindering us. And I'd love to see parents talk to educators much more about.
And explain why that's the case. Right now, we're in such big silos, right? That we are, parents are in one group, teachers are in one group. Employers who are obviously the people who are gonna, work with our young people in the long term. They're another group as well. They're not talking to each other.
And I think if we have that conversation about what does success really look like in the long term? What do our young people need to be able to do? The way that work and life is evolving, it's not what we're doing in our schools, right?
[00:23:12] Hunter: So if a parent is listening to this and is saying, oh my gosh, in my kid's kindergarten, they're getting, they're getting a ton of homework.
They're getting, they're getting all the grades in first grade and things like that, and they're seeing this happen for their child, and they may be worried about it. Do you have any ideas for what a parent can do in a situation like that? To help their child not lose because that extrinsic, some of those extrinsic motivators can really kill that, that, that sort of spark of curiosity, I remember being that kid in, that, that smart kid who hated school because I would like, we were all doing X all doing the multiplication worksheets all at the same time, and I was bored to tears. But what can a parent do if they're seeing this heavy extrinsic motivation stuff and seeing maybe some of the effects on their.
[00:24:13] Sharath Jeevan: So I think a lot of it, I remember just as a real example I I was scarred for maths for life because my mom for her maths was very important with science and so on. Typical Indian parent thing. And I remember getting into the, we were like put into sets, like streams in, in class in the uk.
And I got into the second math stream and I remember like how upset and angry she was. And for me it was just like, once I had that reaction, I realized that. I felt very bad about it. I had a very negative association with math and it took me years to recover from that. Overall. Whereas I think what we need to do is not think about the comparison stuff or the rewards, but focus on this idea of mastery, which is a third pillar of motivation, mastery being the best version of ourselves we can be.
It's like being a better and better driver in a bumpy road that we become every day a bit better about. If we can focus our kids fo attention on, on that journey of mastery, that's one of the most powerful and enduring motivators for them overall in a school experience. So if they're able to read, for example, two more difficult words that day, it doesn't matter if you know another kid in the same class can read 20, that's irrelevant.
They read two more. Let's mark and celebrate that and use that to build confidence. They want to read even. . So we know that what deeply motivates us is every day. Seeing that little bit of extra difference, little bit further, we can go, that adds up that those sort of small kind of yards add up to many miles over time as well.
And I think the other thing we. Do around that is role model ourselves. There's such a fear of failure back to my maths example, right? The problem was not that I was put in the math set, the second group was that I then was badged as being not so great or not the best at maths, right?
And that becomes part of identity. I think what we need to show kids is that we're all learning all the time. I'm in the middle of a career change becoming an author, as you mentioned, becoming an expert in this area, and there's so many things that went wrong along that career change, right? So at the dinner table, I try and talk to my kids about what went, what didn't go so well.
I applied for a very prestigious fellowship in the US a year ago. I didn't get it. I told them about, Yeah, I was a bit sad at the time. They were very excited to come and spend some time there. I just became a visiting fellow at Oxford to teach a course and I told them about a year later. And so what they can see is, look, it didn't happen the first time.
Did I give up? No. I still really enjoyed what I do. I believed in it. I kept developing. Maybe I wasn't ready for that fellowship a year before, but you've got to a point where you've grown and improved and develop. later on, for example. So that idea of that being on the journey, it's not the destination it's that journey of improvement.
I think we really focus our attention on that. That's the most powerful thing we can do, I think.
[00:27:11] Hunter: Do grades matter. And I'm curious about this because, having learned what I've learned about motivation over the years, I was part of a a founding member of a public charter Montessori school here in Delaware, and they went there and they didn't get any grades until seventh grade.
And my daughter, my oldest daughter now is in high school and she gets her grades and there's a whole online portal thing. But honestly, I haven't ever looked at that portal. She has to come and say, give me, she, I, I would miss what grades she has if she doesn't like, she wants me to know, she wants to tell me and share her progress.
I personally don't put a lot of emphasis on grades at all and the, she's. Anyway, for this kid, it's working amazingly. Like she is so super motivated to do her best and it's all her own thing. It's not, it's not about her parents, it's all about her and she's just driving forward.
So I, it's one tiny, small example, right in the A bucket. But in that bigger picture of motivation, do grades.
[00:28:31] Sharath Jeevan: So I think the grade itself doesn't matter, hunter. I think it's really more of a source of feedback and again, that idea of mastery, what grades should do at their best. I think they've got all kinds of distorting effects.
They should be helping us understand what's going and what we need to grow and develop in. That's the idea of any feedback mechanism. But let me give you an example of how this, misfires in corporate life, right? I've worked for some fairly big US companies. One of them was eBay and they had this system where, every quarter it was too often, every quarter you'd got, you'd get a, you'd do a performance appraisal.
So you'd talk about what's gone what things you wanna develop. There was beautiful, A beautiful form you filled in to really help you reflect quite deep questions. It asked you and you had to grade yourself outta five. Then you gave it to your manager and the manager had to give you a grade.
And what was so ridiculous about this whole system is that I think eBays know is not unusual in this, right? Is that all of the development intent that was there about what can I really do better? How can I grow? Got lost by the discussion about the number. And I think there was like a two or 3% difference in, in your bonus, depending on what grade you got, but the amount of emotional energy and noise it created, it meant we weren't focusing on becoming a better professional.
And that's the, if you think about the school setting, that's the problem with grades. They're not bad in themselves, but they're a huge distraction sometimes for the core journey of master. So a couple of ideas. I think one thing I'd say is that a lot of schools, my kids school actually now does it.
They give effort grades as well as attainment grades, right? So that's really important. What you really care about is there's the child throwing everything at this. Are they engaged? There's a lot of evidence I talk about intrinsic, that engagement is the key vehicle now in school and in life. If we're deeply.
We will be successful the long term. So is the child engaged? Are they curious? Are they working hard? Are they improving? So it's just about the absolute grade, whether it's an A or B or whatever it's, did that, did it improve over the last three months? What bits have improved can really focus on that aspect then grades can be quite a useful vehicle, but it's just that often that, because it's a, it becomes a label and that destroys all the value of the feedback.
That's contained within the grade itself.
[00:30:53] Hunter: I guess this kind of talks to how we can shape our conversation about our grades with our kids, where we need to explain those things. That, that this is just feedback and we need to say that, verbalize these things that Sharath just said that this is.
You know what really matters is how engaged you are. What really matters is if you're improving, and to let our kids know that's what we value as parents. That's what we are looking for, is that are they improving? Are they engaged? That, to tell our kids straight out that matters more than their grade to us.
Definitely. Would you say so?
[00:31:39] Sharath Jeevan: Absolutely. I think if we can, again, I think kids, it's so much more important what we do compared to what we say. So I think role modeling, and I talk a lot about this in Intrinsic, that it's really important we role model on ourselves, right? So if, for example, you go you go home at the dinner table and brag about a new job, Now, I'm not saying that could be a very important achievement, that you could say it in one way, which is about, I got the title, that's what really mattered.
Or you can say, I'm really proud I got this promotion or this new title because I made a real impact on this person or this client, or this organization. I helped them have a better organization. I helped their team develop better. Whatever the context you work in is, if it's framed in that way, that going back to purpose, we.
We really made a difference and that's what excites us. And the promotion is almost like a validation of that impact, right? It's the classic kind of horse and cart, which one comes first. So I think if we can role model it ourselves in our discussion of our own lives and what matters, that's really important.
So lemme just give you a real example. We have this crazy system in the UK where kids apply for, are going to certain part, schools didn't have to apply for secondary. There's an exam and it's pretty competitive to get into the, the most desirable schools and so on. My son got in to the school.
He wanted to, I was really pleased with that, but I was very honest to it, saying actually more than whether you got into that school or not, that was less of a concern. I was really delighted about how you took this on. You were really, you worked hard yourself. You didn't need to chase, me to chase you, allocated An hour and a half a day.
We talked about eating the frog early, so you'd go and do that first and then have a nice day after that. You really wanted to go to a certain school and you really worked hard to get there. The how of how, his journey was much more important than the destination. If it wasn't that school, there'd be also another good school out there.
So I think the way we frame and tell that story matters. In how we do that with our children. Unfortunately, the school system is slow in most countries to change though. I think, again, if we can play that kind of explainer role well and frame this really well for kids, they will respond I think, pretty positively.
[00:33:59] Hunter: and here locally, I just discovered the other day that a Sudbury school has opened in my town, and I don't know if you know what that is, but it's a totally self-directed school. It's like a, it's like. Homeschooling unschooling, but in a place together where they're all doing self-directed motivation, how does that fit into the sort of motivation picture and this educational picture?
[00:34:29] Sharath Jeevan: So I think that some great models and bury are a really another example hunter, as you said. The challenge is I think we live in the real world, right? And at some point our kids are gonna have to deal with the real world out there. So they may go from Subbury to, I don't know, Harvard for example, and that's not gonna be in the environment, right?
It's, they may be in a very competitive environment where everyone is trying to compete for their best grades, they wanna get into certain job. So I think if we have that Oasis available great, let's use that. But I don't think it matters what school our kids are in. We can still play the same role.
and I think in some ways it's even more powerful to be in a more mainstream system, but help kids see things differently because that's how life is gonna be, right? They'll be in companies where many employees do have this attitude that's all about getting promoted to the next level. Everything is about the next pay jump rather than having deep impact and making a difference to others in their work.
If that's the case in a culture, how do our kids learn to. Exist in those cultures, but not accept them. To say that actually, I'm gonna take a different dial here and actually ultimately this will probably need me to be happier, for sure, more motivated, and most likely more successful over the long term.
[00:35:44] Hunter: So if our, what if we see our kids have become demotivated? They, maybe they've lost their, maybe as a child they had this intrinsic motivation to, Create, I don't know, to play archery and create mad videos and do all these different things. And as they've spent more time on TikTok and they're growing up and that kind of thing.
We might see a, we might be worried about their inner spark, that inner motivation for mastery and autonomy dulling, how can we reignite that in our kids?
[00:36:28] Sharath Jeevan: So I think key thing is sometimes let time kids are ready to learn when they're ready to learn. I think that just what I'm learning more and more so I know I'm a, I'm tennis fan myself.
My, my son, my older one was really intense. He played at fairly high level as a young kid, and suddenly he got into cricket, right? And he just wanted to abandon all the tennis. Altogether, and I was quite one level. I was quite upset because we had spend quite a lot of time I was firing into tennis matches or, practice sessions and also, honestly I'd spent quite a bit of money on coaching right for him over that period as well.
Thank God there's that kind of sunk cost sort of economists call it thing where you, I've already sunk so much into this, how can you stop me? Stop. So I caught myself said, look what reman is, whether he's engaged. I don't want him to do tennis because of an obligation. And certainly what?
Because he thinks I like the sport, therefore he should, like it said, okay, fine. Let's leave it. And all we did was play tennis every few months, just one to one between us. Occasionally, we were just on holiday over the summer he read a biography of Roger Feder that was lying on the a bookshelf.
And I know what happened. It energized. And he read a couple more tennis books. So that summer now he's gone back to playing a couple times a week back to a local squad. So our kids will find that drive, when it's ready. So I think a lot of it's just trusting they'll find it at the right time.
I think at the other hand though, so essentially what I'm saying is that our kids need to be passionate about something. So he went from tennis to. That's fine. Cricket has many like baseball has many great things about being part of a team sport, working with others. There are many things he learned there and whether I was a tennis fan or not was, is relevant, right?
So I think basically we don't need to worry about what our kids are passionate about. We just need to care their passion about something. And not, I don't mean a video gamer on my bar phone. Anything else beyond that. That's all that really matters. They're not sleepwalk through life. They're curious.
They really see the bigger picture. They're excited about something. They're alive. They're living life. The full. They have many opportunities that we didn't have in many countries. So are they using that the full, the best, their potential if we're shaping them around, they're grumpy between activity to activity.
That's not a great childhood, I would argue. Yeah. So let's worry less about what they do and more about how they engage in what, whatever they want to do.
[00:39:02] Hunter: So I love that answer and I think that's so reassuring, this idea of like giving it time and don't force it. And it reminds me of when my oldest daughter played piano and she's always very musically, very precocious. My husband makes electronic music and she would be able to, when she was four, we.
Play a note on the piano and she could tell us what note it was. It was pretty amazing. So she played piano. We had a teacher take her at like crazy, like four and a half, and the teacher wanted us to of course, make her practice right, but she's, Four and a half, five years old. And after a year or so, she didn't wanna do it anymore because we were, I was trying to make her practice and it wasn't coming from her anymore.
It was coming from me. So she quit piano. We stopped piano, and then when she was seven or so, she I said, do you wanna try it again? You, it'll be totally your thing. I promise I won't make you practice. And she went back to it and loved it for many years. And now she's left it off again.
But it is this idea, I'm hearing of letting it be their thing, letting us, having us back off from. That manipulation or that Too much directing,
[00:40:32] Sharath Jeevan: yeah, no, it's a great example, hunter. And I think that idea that back to autonomy, if they can feel they're making the choices, they're directing their own life, they're gonna be so much more impactful in the long term, right?
As individuals. So that's really important. If they're feeling it's forced on them or they're doing a lot of obligation, that's not how we want them to think about life and what they do. They're gonna be in that passive mode. A long time. And the thing I'd say, what we're learning about mastery linking to that two, two very powerful things.
Let me take my, my, my son's example. He stopped tennis from basically almost two and a half, three years, maybe playing with any level at all. But it was amazing when he went back to court, he played better than he is ever played. because the cricket had also developed him, he had really good hand eye chord issue, was much more athletic.
He was able to, hit the ball hard, all these things. So what we're learning about mastery is that it's very transferable. So she might not have done, played music for a while, but she might done something else that will contribute to that music when she's ready. So it's not like it's dead time that as long as they're doing something else that they care about, it will transfer back to whatever they wanna do long term.
The second thing I think that's really important on this mastery stuff is this idea of learning to learn. They're gonna, music. Yeah. It may or may not be important in the young person's life in the long term, but it will be a source of real pleasure and gratitude. But what's more important is they learn to take a new area.
And learn to get better at it and learn to be curious because that's what they're gonna need to do in terms of changing careers or fields or sectors or industries in the world of work and navigating very, different kinds of friendships and relationships in our personal lives as well. So as long as we build that learning to learn muscle that area of mastery, we know there's a chemical called myelin, which is very heavily linked to that.
If they learn to mask that process of. It really doesn't matter what they learn again, as long as they get on that journey of mastery. So it's again, really about how rather the what.
[00:42:40] Hunter: I love that, the learning to learn muscle. Okay, so I have one final sort of question about this motivation with this and it's a cheeky one, but just to really grind in the to really solidify this point.
How, what are the things that parents do? What how do we kill our kids' motivation? How do, how, what are the things that we do that. That undermine it?
[00:43:05] Sharath Jeevan: Yeah. I think probably three things, if I list them, hunter. One is we pretend life is a straight line when it's really a zig. We pretend there's this perfect path and getting into the perfect college or school or grades, whatever will guarantee this path.
We know, right? I have, I went to some of the best, colleges in there and the world. Many of my contemporaries struggle at some points in their career, just part of life. And so that, that idea, first of all, of being honest about what life is really and not shying away from that, but actually helping them understand that and also be comfortable, maybe even enjoy.
Uncertainty and learn. Be confident they can navigate the uncertainty. That's the first thing we do. The second thing is we create this incredible comparison culture where we almost give that impression that we don't love them for who they are. We love them for what they of, how they compare.
And that can be devastating. And this idea that, that safety and what we're learning about psychological safety, emotional safety, they're our children, whatever they. We should love them, right? That's really important to do and also to role model what they do alongside That is a nice bonus, but that, that, that core sense of safety is really important and trying to move away from their self worth being linked to others and how they compare to others.
That's really important. So that comparison culture. The second thing I think we often screw up in the third thing, I think that we do. Again is linked to the two things, but the obsession of the what rather than the how. So this idea that the choices you make, it's all about making the right choice about what you study at college or what you major in, or what your first job is.
That's nonsense. And that there is no straight path. What's much more important is how you are in the world, how you engage. Are you really making a difference? Do you have a sense of autonomy? Are you getting better at something as well? The third area, so those are the three things I'd really say that we make a lot of big mistakes and as parents, and not because we obviously want the best for our kids, but we are very confused about how we were raised.
and the world that has emerged is completely different from what our parents' mental models were. I think it's true if you're an immigrant, but I think it's true of all parents. We've got to almost update, upgrade our mental models of Parenting to relate to the world we're in now. And if we're not, we're gonna be creating or nurturing kids who are not ready for the world as it is.
[00:45:40] Hunter: Sure. Thank you so much. It is so valuable to talk to you and I love your point of view and and I think this is such a valuable perspective that's really grounded in reality and and obviously research and so much it's incredibly valuable. I would love to know where can people find your book and more about you if they're interested in taking this further.
Thanks, and I
[00:46:11] Sharath Jeevan: really enjoyed the conversation as well. And if I write a lot about these topics you can find a lot in Intrinsic so intrinsic on Amazon or wherever you get your books you pick it up there. I write a lot also on LinkedIn. For those of you use it, please follow me on LinkedIn.
If you look, my name's Sharon, s h a r a t h. J e v n and also on Twitter as well, if you wanna look as well. But yeah, I'd love to continue the conversation. It's so important and I'd love to hear from your listeners hunter, about, where are they finding challenges and see if you can work on this together.
I think we need a new way of Parenting and a new way to develop young leaders in the world to solve our deepest c.
[00:46:55] Hunter: I think you're describing, you have described a mind, a powerful mindset shift, and I really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your insights, sharing your wisdom, doing the work that you do.
I'm so grateful that you have the purpose that you have, because I know that this, we're gonna have incredible ripple effects around the world. And thank you so much for coming on the Mindful Mama. Thanks. It's
[00:47:22] Sharath Jeevan: a real pleasure.
[00:47:27] Hunter: Thank you so much for listening. It's really powerful, isn't it, to really get the real deal about motivation. I find it so fascinating. I hope you did too. And if you did, please make sure you go over to Apple Podcast. Leave us a rating and review or. And maybe share this episode on your Instagram stories.
Tag me in it at Mindful Mama mentor, and let me know your takeaways. It really means so much to me when I get these hits from you. It's like just makes it all so worthwhile. And man, I hope you are hanging in there. Having a great week. I hope that you are offering yourself and your loved ones some compassion.
I hope you're getting some rest and not pushing too hard. I hope that you are saying both yes and no to life with wisdom, right? That's what I need to do too. So I'll be practicing with you. I'm so grateful to have shared this time with you today. Thank you. Thank you so much for listening, and I'll see you again next week.