Not too long ago, I had dinner with a few of my close friends who are all involved in the field of speech-language pathology. We got on the subject of motivation and more specifically, “What motivates us, as speech-language pathologists, to do great work?”
In this profession . . .
- You don’t make millions of dollars (you make enough to live of course, but no one I know is pulling in a lawyer’s salary).
- There is no such thing as year-end bonuses (at least not to my immediate knowledge!).
- You don’t ever really get a promotion or a title change (you pretty much enter as an SLP and retire as an SLP).
So . . . what motivates us?
It’s obvious to me that it clearly is not any type of external motivator.
After doing some digging online, I ordered a book called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink, where the author actually debunks the power of external motivators, and expands on the intrinsic motivators that inspire us to do great work. He mentions three key points that drive creative thinkers: autonomy (self-directed work), mastery (getting better at stuff), and purpose (serving a greater vision). Super interesting information and I recommend you purchase his book.
There is nothing that gets me more pumped than when I notice a student’s “ah-ha” moment — when that child finally produces that sound perfectly. He looks at me and says, “Wow, I never knew I could say it that good.” Then I look at him and I say, “Pshh. I ALWAYS knew you could.” I used my creativity to put together an individualized approach to specifically target that child’s communication difficulty — and it worked. The child is smiling, I’m smiling, and for that brief moment in time, all the stars are aligned. That, in a nutshell, is what drives me. It’s a combination of the three intrinsic motivators that Daniel Pink speaks about. The work that a speech-language pathologist does is extremely purposeful and as cliche as this might sound, we truly make a huge difference.
What about you?
So with all that being said, what motivates you to be an awesome SLP? What gets YOU pumped? Why do you love this job so much?
In closing . . .
I believe it’s important for us to step back and truly think about these questions. Reflecting on these thoughts can make us even better service providers. In the end, we all want to be the best for our students because they are depending on us, and that’s what truly matters.