Motive, Means & Opportunity!

October 31, 2013

When the police are looking to solve a crime these three questions are absolutely key:

Motive – Why was the crime committed?

Means – How was the crime carried out?

Opportunity – Who had the time and circumstances?

When I hear some of the extravagant plans some people make to commit crimes I am staggered by the amount of planning and detail involved. Who can forget the husband & wife team that faked his death to claim life insurance? It was a Reggie Perrin affair where he went out to sea in a canoe never to be seen again, that was until they were both spotted living it up in South America!

I often wonder if the perpetrators of these crimes had invested as much effort into legal business activities they would have been successful entrepreneurs? In Birmingham I support a Social Enterprise print & promotions business called Made By Young People. They run a scheme called “Hoodie to Entrepreneur” aimed at educating young people on how to make money legitimately through business, rather than crime.

When we look at successful business people, managers and leaders it is easy for us to focus on the bottom two bullet points above. They had the means and the opportunity that we didn’t and that is why they are more successful than we are.

Instead we should focus on the top bullet point ‘motive’. The word motive comes from the word ‘motivation’ and means ‘the reason why we do what we do’. In criminal terms, what drove the person to commit the crime? What was their aim, or their goal; power, money, revenge?

When reading about successful business leaders and entrepreneurs they all have one thing in common, a clearly defined set of ‘motives’ for doing what they do. It is these motives that drive them on, their motivation and this is why goals and goal setting are so important. When they reach one set of goals they start on the next. They don’t just have business goals either, look at Richard Branson and his ballooning antics from the past.

A question often asked in interviews is “What motivates you?” and I am often disappointed with the answers given. These are usually a pre-prepared and standard monologue of clichés including; management, promotion, being the ‘best’, sense of achievement and money!

I often say to people “If you have no goals, you have no future” but a better phrase would be; “What are your motives in life?” It has to be said that for most of us parenthood changes our life motives more than anything else!

So your challenge from me is not to write a list of goals (you probably already have those) but to clearly define your own motives for work and life! Why do you do what you do?

Many thanks

Stuart Allen

Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training

(Image by -Marcus- at

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