Foundations of Motivation #2: The Mighty Power Of Language


I really dislike the word work. To me, the word has connotations attached to it such as drab, monotonous, hard work and tiring. So you could imagine every time that I go to work how I choose to feel. This is much like the word job, again, screams temporary, unimportant and purposeless.

When I replace the word work with the word hustle it inspires a new kind of energy within. You see for me, to hustle is the opposite of work, I find hustling is to get things done, to move toward the finish, to hurry. I find it energetic and exciting. And in terms of my business, I don’t refer to it as a job, it’s a mission, a driver -- there is a purpose.

When we look at the two definitions of work and hustle we find they are basically the same:

Work - be engaged in physical or mental activity in order to achieve a result

Hustle - a state of great activity.

However my internal representation of the two words differ immensely. The words I use to describe the “engagement in a physical or mental activity” can either energise me to go harder or drain the motivation out of me. It is my choice of language that determines this outcome.

If we think of our team, to a time when they seemed unmotivated to complete something, what was their language, or rather, as their leader what was your language when you gave them the project?

Power of Language

When we fail to recognize that different language has different emotional pull for individuals, we also fail to recognize what motivates our people. Often, it is not the prize or reward that motivates someone, it is how they are relayed the importance or urgency of the task.

Take the time to learn and understand your people and the language they use to motivate themselves. It’s easy. You just have to listen and they will tell you the words that move them forward, use their language and watch them spring into action. 

Darcey Pollard

Retail Capability and Product Trainer at