Thursday, May 24, 2007



"Letter Blogs" written by "The Letter Blogger" - in the hope the receiver will respond something like : "The Little Bugger" - and also written in the hope that it might change the world - and its people - for the better.

Here is the first example of a "Letter Blog" (The Motivation Society) - to the Guardian...

Dear Alan Rusbridger,

Disturbing front page this week ("Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq", Guardian, May 22). What is your motivation - your 'reason why' - for publishing such obvious, politically-motivated propaganda ? I am reminded of the Encounter magazine scandal of the late 1960's, in which the co-editor - Stephen Spender - immediately resigned after it was revealed the CIA were covertly funding the magazine. Would you resign if it was revealed the CIA, or its 'stakeholders', were covertly funding the Guardian ? In the belief that you will not reply, please could you register this as an official reader complaint. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Richard W. Symonds M.C.I.P.D.
THE MOTIVATION SOCIETY 14 Lavington Close, Ifield, Sussex RH11 OHXTel : 18002 01293 535778 (Textphone - I am very deaf)Email

And here is another example of a "Letter Blog" (The Motivation Society) - to West Sussex County Times :

Dear Gary Shipton,

What is the primary motivation behind - the real reason for - a decision by County Hall NOT to openly provide details of a £6.9m Strategic Planning budget increase ("Full response was sent / Cut 'consultantspeak' and save £60k", WSCT Letters, May 25 / May 18) ? "Through the paper", Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources - Steve Waight, points an accusing finger at a questioning County Times reader - David Horner. Three accusing fingers are pointing straight back at Cllr Waight, for not providing the answer to the question "through the paper".

Yours sincerely,
Richard W. Symonds M.C.I.P.D.THE MOTIVATION SOCIETY 14 Lavington Close, Ifield, Sussex RH11 OHX.Tel : 18002 01293 535778 (Textphone - I am very deaf)Email : (preferred communication)

Excellent letters, Richard, and good examples of how drawing attention to 'motivation' concentrates the mind of recipient and readers alike.

I think the Iranian President has a lovely smile, just like Yasser Arafat for whom I always had great respect. And of course we have to remember that the Iranian Pres came up with what posterity will realise is the only workable long-term answer to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: not to deny Israel the right to exist but to move it to some underpopulated part of the United States (we'll all chip in). After all, the Yanks and the Israelis love each other so much it will be a marriage made in Heaven. Seriously.

This I believe but what's my motivation?
Thanks for that. Interesting.

"This I believe but what's my motivation?"

Ah, Jeff, you've hit on something there - and it's something I've been thinking about more, only after creating this blog.

What's your motivation? What's my motivation ? What is the motivation of anyone else reading this ?

I don't think we know for becomes complex when we think about it - well, to me anyway !

If I honestly ask myself : What is my motivation for doing this, or saying that...I come up with a number of different, and often conflicting, motivations (reasons why)...and it is a 'toss up' sometimes as to what is the primary motivation - if you see what I mean.

Perhaps practical examples help...

If I want to get an idea what really motivates me (and what really doesn't), I can go to WH Smith and stand in front of the myriad of magazines on display...

Which magazines am I drawn to ?

Well, for me, the sexy ones first - even if I might try and look cool and divert my eyes. That's easy to explain. The sexual drive (instinct), like the territorial, is a primary motivation - so that should come as no surprise (Motivation as Instinct).

But things get more complicated with other magazines/ wife might be drawn by the new Weightwatchers Mag, whereas I might be drawn to Private Eye, whereas my older son might be drawn to History Today, wheras younger son is drawn to the WWE Wrestling Mag.

Why ? Because we are different people with differing motivations.

Things get even more complicated and complex when our primary motivations are enmeshed with our primary emotions ?

Why is it that whenever I see a particular estate agency board, I think of a particular person, and I am then likely to go into a deep melancholia - and if unchecked my eyes well up in tears.

What's going on ? What motivations are at play there which make me behave like that ? Motivation (eg Instinct) affects Behaviour (Action) - and vice-versa I suppose.

Most of us get very uncomfortable with over-analysing such things - thinking is very hard work especially when the deep emotions are involved - and so most of us divert our attention to more comfortable, easier 'pursuits'.

But I believe it is now critical for us to 'flesh it out' - the subject of motivation that is - for reasons of humanity's survival and well-being.

So there is one primary reason for creating the Motivation Society...perhaps...but I know (in myself) there are other primary motivations at work here...

And what might they be...?
And I've just noticed this wonderful post by Anticant - Comment 2 - which is very pertinent :

"Who knows what is in the innermost depths of anybody - even oneself.

"There's a saying that everyone has Four Selves.
There is the Self that you and I both know.
There is the Self that I know and you don't, because I keep it a secret.
There is the Self that you know and I don't, because when you try to tell me about it, I get angry.
And there is the Self that neither of us know."

Thank you, AC - have a great, great holiday !
Someone pointed out to me recently that my mind worked very strangely.

Yes, it does - but sometimes it helps...

If I see a sexy lady walk down the street in a short skirt, high heals and a top which leaves little to the imagnation, it requires a supreme effort of will to avert my gaze and control my thoughts and emotions.

I can explain why. The sexual instinct is a very powerful motivator...blah, blah, blah.

But WHY am I attracted by legs raised by high heels and extra-fleshy skin on the chest of a different gender ?

I can't answer that one - except to say I just am. I can't explain why...I'm just wired up that way.

There are so many 'why' questions like this which don't have an easy answer - even after analysing them in depth ?

The only answer to some questions seems to be : it's just the way it is.

Do you see what I mean - or am I just strange ?
I've just noticed this from that wise old Canary, Jose :

"The world today is full of euphemisms, which hide the real intention behind the words"


There are about 30 Motivation Theories I have identified...but they tend to fit into only a few convenient psychological/biological 'baskets':INSTINCTS

Don't quite know where INTENTION fits, but it fits somewhere...
Extremely interesting thoughts, Richard. As you so truly say, we are all different - thank goodness! [Imagine a world of Blair-clones....]

But I think you are confusing 'motivation' with 'taste' or 'preference'. You prefer to look at pictures of sexy female legs; I prefer to look at handsome young guys [preferably naked]. Our tastes are different, but our motivation is the same - an increase in our sense of wellbeing by gratification of our aesthetic/sexual tastes, and sometimes - but not always - a desire to fuck someone we look upon as pretty.

There is nothing 'strange' about there often being no answer to 'WHY?' questions. 'Just the way it is', is a perfectly satisfactory explanation in many instances. The insatiable desire to know 'why' answers to everything is what leads to the man-made folly of religious creeds. And look where that has got us!

It's often much more sensible to forget about 'why', and ask yourself 'WHAT is going on here? HOW is it affecting me and other people? WHAT is my most appropriate and useful response to it?'

Again, it is our desire to improve the situation that dictates the answer to the latter question. You may dismiss this as shallow hedonism, but I consider it as being more in touch with reality than endless brain-bashing around speculative motivations. It doesn't so much matter WHY something is happening: the point is that is IS happening - and so what to do about it?

I agre with Jeff about Ahmadinnerjacket - he's the only conceivable reason I'd like to be Condoleezza Rice [how about her legs, Richard?], as I'm pretty sure I could have some useful and genuinely friendly debate with him, even if it didn't result in a complete meeting of minds.

I disagree about Arafat, though. He always struck me as a somewhat slimy cove. His family connections weren't endearing, either.

As for what motivates me to keep on blogging in the face of near-universal global insanity, I think the answer is 'sheer desperation'!
Says AC : "It's often more sensible to forget about 'Why', and ask yourself 'What' and 'How'.

It all depends what you mean by "sensible", AC.

Man's lust for scientific explanation (What? & How?) has left Humanity on the edge of a precipice - by not seeking the explanation Why (an endless, but ctitical, philosophical quest.

I believe it is both "sensible" and critical, if humanity has the will to survive, to ask Why?

If Galileo, Newton or Chomsky had not asked Why, the world would be a very different place.

If the religious had stopped asking Why, there would be no study of Philosophy. If the philosopher had stopped asking Why, there would be no study of Psychology. And I would maintain (wouldn't I ?!) that if the psychologist had stopped asking Why, there would be no study of Motivation.

Keep on blogging, AC - it might prove to be a critical pre-condition for humanity's survival.
A general comment.

In the advocacy of ideas, the first priority must be to communicate in a way that is clear and understandable to your audience. Even with the most complex propositions, the ability to express them in a way that people will understand is key.

I have to say that in some of the messages on this blog, I have to read them two or three times to understand the point being made. Even then I'm not always successful.

I've noticed in the world of academia and business, writers often use a strange self-invented language that uses obscure words (or words invented by the writer but with some semantic connection).

I think they do this because they think it makes them look very intelligent and professional even though it is a serious barrier to understanding.

They are looking to produce the reaction 'I don't quite understand what this bloke is talking about so he must be very clever'.

As someone who was an advertising writer for 38 years and a political propagandist for even longer I do urge everyone of the importance of not putting barriers in the way of comprehension.

Arafat may have been a terrorist or a freedom fighter depending on your sympathies. But he did what he did to protect his people. He wasn't in it for the money. He wasn't in it for the women or the drugs or the gold or the fine food. He spent the last months of his life in a ruined building with Israeli snipers watching his every move.

What is the difference between the terrorist atrocity on the Twin Towers and what we did at Hiroshima or in the fire bombing of Baghdad? No difference whatsoever.

Killing unarmed civilians is an atrocity no matter in what cause it is carried out.

Only the enemy's armed forces, and the politicians who control them, should be considered legitimate targets for men and women of honour engaged in resistance.

As the great man said: "War is a crime against the people of all nations...The War on Want is the War we want".

But I have strayed far from Motivation. Sorry, Richard.
"Strayed from motivation", Jeff ?
Far from it, to my mind.

"Truth" - and the endless quest for it - is a great motivator...perhaps the greatest of all, along with "Justice" ?

One thing I have learned from this's like a conversation...and like a conversation it goes where it will...but only with the goodwill of those present.

Comments which APPEAR to be irrelevant/inappropriate/silly can sometimes be the touchstone of something amazing...

It often just needs the courage to try and express complex thoughts and feelings...into words.

What do you reckon ?
Richard, if you can never decide what to do about something until you've figured out the reason that it's happening, you won't run a very effective fire brigade.

And Jeff, of course everyone [ha ha] agrees that unarmed civilians ought not to be targets in official or unofficial wars, but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

[By 'unarmed civilians', I take it you exclude the gun-toting 'right to bear arms' crowd in USA?]
And if someone doesn't also figure out THE REASON WHY such fires start in the first place - and thus prevent more of them - more unnecessary death and destruction can be prevented.
That last post doesn't quite make sense - but I'm sure you get the drift...
Yes, Richard. When you travel a long road with only the rough outline of a map, you will most probably end up visiting many unexpected and interesting places.

anticant - we all know that innocent civilians won't stop getting killed just because we have defined the difference between terrorism and justifiable armed resistance. But it's still good to have a clear definition as a guide in the 'One Man's Terrorist is Another Man's Freedom Fighter' debate.
Have you ever read Freakonomics?

A theme of that book is that behaviour - of groups or individuals - can often be explained, or affected by incentives.

Incentives are, of course, another aspect of motivation but I think they are easier to spot or deduce.

Most people are motivated by the same things, as described by Maszlow in his heirarchy of needs even if they might prioritise them slightly differently (food, shelter, companionship, etc.) but their incentives are things which they are led to believe will improve some area or areas of motivation.

I haven't really thought this through - your current obsession with motivation has just led me to make the connection - I shall have to ponder it a bit.
Skuds, my "current obsession with motivation" has been for over 30 years - ever since I studied occupational psychology in the early 70's - but no matter...

Motivation and Incentives are indeed very closely related...there is much research about the connection...please "ponder it a bit" more...I would be most interested.

Incentives are often given to people to motivate them to work harder. Some incentives dreamed up can work spectacularly well with some, and spectacularly badly with others.

After 53 years on the surface of this spinning rock, I have come to the conclusion that the incentives provided depend almost entirely on the assumptions made about human nature by the person (or persons) providing the incentives.

Most assumptions about human nature (and motivation) are wrong, so most incentives will be wrong.

Why ?

Because most people have lost the ability to genuinely care about others, and have also lost the curiousity of asking 'why?'.
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