Motivation is something that not only drives an individual to persevere and continue working on a chosen skill or project for a longer period of time, but it also inspires, "ignites" the person at the beginning of his or her way to mastery.
[From Music Practice Decoded, Part 2: Practice and motivation]
The initial part of the motivational process is referred to as 'ignition'. At this stage an individual's identity becomes connected to a long-term vision of his or her future. When a person realizes who he or she wants to be, significant amounts of unconscious energy are triggered, and so begins the whole process.
Seemingly simple, ignition is often rather mysterious, even for those who actually became motivated to learn a particular skill at some point of their lives. Short descriptions of this phenomenon, such as “sparks” or “sudden detonations of psychic energy that fire us off in new and unforeseen directions,” (1) suggest that ignition happens rather quickly and an individual does not have much influence on how or when it happens, or what the new direction is.
However, something different than that is implied when the initial stage of motivation is considered more thoroughly – it appears that to a certain degree an individual does have an influence on his or her own ignition, as well as what might contribute to other people's motivation. Discovering one's own Element – “the meeting point between natural aptitude and personal passion” (2) - is a moment when a person experiences ignition. By finding what one loves and can become good at with relative ease, one gets naturally motivated to passionately engage in the activity. What is more, one can find one's Element(s) by creating opportunities to experience various things and to meet people who already found their special field. “Aptitudes don't necessarily become obvious unless there are opportunities to use them,” writes Robinson. “A lot depends on the opportunities we have, on the opportunities we create, and how and if we take them.” (3)
(1) Syed, M., Bounce. The myth of talent and the power of practice, Fourth Estate, London 2011, 108
(2) Robinson, K., with Aronica, L., The Element. How finding your passion changes everything, Penguin Books, 2010, 21
(3) Ibid., 25
Look out for my e-book Music Practice Decoded. The Psychology of Getting Brilliant in Music (which is going to be published this spring!) to get more information on how to make yourself shine as a musician!
And if you find the phenomenon of ignition fascinating, I'm sure that you'll find Ken Robinson's The Element. How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything extremely inspiring. Check it out!