Figure Out What's Next

#14: The True Source of Power is this

with Nicola Vetter & Peter Axtell
February 28, 2023 | 16 Minutes



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On "Inside-Out Career Design" this week, hosts Nicola Vetter & Peter Axtell speak about

...a big claim. And to be clear, this is our point of view about the true source of power. We are not talking about political power, military power, power hierarchy in a company, and certainly not power over others. We are talking about the power to live a more fulfilled life, the power to develop as a person in a way we desire, the power over negative emotions, the power to be considered a good friend, the power to enjoy a good reputation... This is not about perfection (which is impossible, anyhow). We hope to inspire you to develop mentally and emotionally from the inside-out so you can feel a forward momentum in your life. The result will be more peace, equanimity, empathy, humor, and balance.

Some questions we discuss for you to reflect on

  • Try to reverse engineer some of your jobs, projects or situations in life and remember how you felt.
  • Check out all Motives and Desires here -- which ones might be you top and which ones your lowest?
  • And if you want to take the guesswork out of the equation, and you want to know what your Motivational Blueprint or Motivational Key looks like, go and take the MotivationFinder self-assessment

Connect with

Connect with Nicola & Peter

Books, resources, and people mentioned in this episode

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Any topics you’d like us to cover or guests you’d like to hear? Let us know at [email protected]

About the Inside-Out Career Design Podcast

This podcast is obsessed with answering a single question: Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career?

Join Nicola Vetter and Peter Axtell, co-founders of the Career Insights platform and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment, as they follow their obsession with answering this question by sharing their insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talking with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches -- anyone and everyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of “what’s next for me?” and “what should I do with my life?”

They seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers.

Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are and what you are meant to do with the time you’ve been given.


Nicola Vetter  00:00

If you only took one idea from today's podcast, it would be this: Understand that the true source of power is knowing and living your Motives and Desires. Everything flows from there.


Peter Axtell  00:19

Welcome to Inside-Out Career Design. In this show, we're obsessed with answering a single question. Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career? My name is Peter Axtell, and I'm here with Nicola Vetter. We're co-founders of the CareerInsights platform, and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment. Join us as we seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers. We'll share our insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talk with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches, anyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of: "What's next for me?" and "What should I do with my life?" Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are, and what you're meant to do with the time you've been given. 


Peter Axtell  01:22

Are you trying to figure out what to do with your life, to figure out what to do with the precious time you've been given on this earth? Or to figure out what only you as a remarkable and unique individual can bring into this world? If you are, please join us for one of our live and completely free online workshops, where we cover different topics to help you figure out what to do with your life and career without wasting precious time, taking wild guesses, or risking it all. To save your spot in our next live and free workshop go to We can't wait to see you there. Again, that's


Nicola Vetter  02:15

Hello, and welcome to today's episode of the Inside-Out Career Design Podcast. Peter and I know we have a lot of explaining to do about what in our view, the true source of power is. What we're not talking about is political power, financial power, physical power, oppressive power, and certainly not power over others. We are talking about the power of meaning, focus, creativity, fulfillment, well-being, and success in the best sense of the word.


Peter Axtell  02:58

For example, realizing when enough is enough. You know, the power to experience more good days and bad days, the power to feel good about the person we're becoming, the power of knowing why we do the things we do, the power to know our minds better, the power of a good reputation as a trusted person.


Nicola Vetter  03:22

You might think, well, how could I possibly reach that power? It sounds overly aspirational. We believe there is a way. If you've listened to some of our other episodes, you hear us talk a lot about Motives and Desires. So, this episode was long overdue to give you some deeper insight into why we consider them key to creating a life and career you love, why they are the true source of power. Here we go. Motives describe what's meaningful to you like freedom, contact, flexibility, status, and there are 18 of them. We'll give you some examples in a sec., so stick with us here. We're just laying the groundwork. Motives are the why behind your behavior. They are the starting point of all action. And when you use them correctly, they can be a source of enormous energy and focus. Motives make meaning.


Peter Axtell  04:41

And they can even save your life. In our last episode, you know we spoke about Beethoven and the hardships he had to endure. So, here's a quick recap. He was going deaf at 25, chronic stomach problems, vomiting, outbursts of anger, damaging relationships, people were stealing his music, trying to hide his progressive hearing decline from his competitors and enemies. And he was unable to find a stable relationship with a woman his whole life. He was considered very ugly, and he had a maladjusted personality. At more than one point in his life, it became so painful that he considered suicide. And in fact, he even wrote a suicide letter to be opened after his death. So, I was wondering, what kept him going? I think he was compelled to compose and play music, always try new things, taking chances, constantly improvising, never settling for the status quo. This must have led to many flow states. So, I'm certain that one of his highest Motives was innovation, which we define as the pursuit of creative freedom and new experiences to uncover and introduce something new.


Nicola Vetter  06:02

Definitely. And I can totally relate, as it's also one of my highest Motives, always striving to be on the cutting edge of things, exploring new paths and implementing new ideas. It fills me with energy even only talking and thinking about it. Now, we believe that motivation is the foundation for all action. Motivation makes movement. Begs the question, what is motivation? It's the energy to act that comes from within, intrinsically. Which brings up the next question, act in what way, towards what? Well, ideally in a way that we want. But how do we know what we want?


Peter Axtell  07:00

And that's where Desires come in. Next question, well, what's a Desire? It's something we want. So, you can have a high or low Desire for something, you can either strive to move towards something you want or move away from something you don't want. That's why Desires determine the direction that you're motivated to take. So, the Desires that live inside you are something you wake up every day trying to live. When you live them, you feel satisfied, fulfilled, and clear. They also release dopamine in your brain, the so-called pleasure chemical, which often leads to flow states. When you don't live them, you feel frustrated.


Nicola Vetter  07:49

So, there are three terms to keep in mind: Motives, Motivation, and Desires. And here's a simple way to remember what they are about: Motives make meaning, Motivation makes movement and Desires determine direction. But how does this help you in real life and with your career? So, let's make this practical.


Peter Axtell  08:18

Okay. Well, I can tell you, it can prevent you from spending years of your life in a job or career that will never fit. So, a lot of you have heard my real estate story, but it's a good illustration of this. One of my top Desires is cooperation. Well, real estate is all about competition, is every man for himself. Everybody's competing with each other. And it's Doggy Dog. The real estate world is absolutely the opposite place where I should be. I should be in a job where I'm part of a team, where I can help other people win. That's what I love to do. So that's number one. Fact, I find competitive situations, I find them unpleasant, and I generally avoid them. But I thrive on cooperation and reaching a common goal together with others. And I look for a win-win situation in almost every situation. I also try to avoid conflicts and try to find consensus or compromise. So, I'm a good team player. But when you're in the real estate business, this rah rah right, it's just bam, bam, head-to-head to head competition. So, another one of my high Desires is appreciation from others. Well, the problem with that is, realtors have a very poor reputation. People generally don't like realtors. So, unless you have a really thick skin, you're in a business where you just don't get a lot of appreciation. In fact, during the big real estate meltdown when I was helping people get out from under their houses and doing short sales, I was often blamed by the very people I was trying to help, which eventually led to a heart attack. So, when I went back and I deconstructed my life as a real estate agent, I looked at my Motivational Blueprint and I said, this was a completely wrong fit for me, but I didn't know it at the time.


Nicola Vetter  10:16

So, you just mentioned that word. What we are really talking about here are Desires that are part of what we call your Motivational Blueprint. So, what is a Motivational Blueprint? It's a map of the unique person that you are, how you are wired. It's the key to why you do the things you do, why you're attracted to some things, and not to others, to some situations and not to others. It's an operating manual of us specifically, just like your fingerprint, that contains your personal Motives, what gives you meaning, and your Desires, the direction you're striving towards. So, your personal Motivational Blueprint is your true source of power, as we defined it at the beginning.


Peter Axtell  11:18

It's the power to become the person you aspire to be, that has nothing to do with external power. It's important to remember that you're trying to live your highest Motives and Desires every day. And when you can live them in your life and your work and your relationships, well, you just feel great, you feel energized and motivated, and you feel satisfied. But if you can't, or if you're forced to use your lowest Motives and Desires, well, then you're going to suffer, you're going to feel cranky and depressed and become demotivated.


Nicola Vetter  11:55

You can reverse engineer a job or a project you've done in your life and remember how you felt, what motivated or demotivated you. Let me give you a personal experience with a long project I was working on as a consultant back in Germany. When I landed the contract with a huge German utility Corporation, I was excited, and there was big money involved. My task was to bring two different parties together, establish progress interviews, and build trust. And one of my top Motives is leadership. So, I thrive when I can guide others and take responsibility for the outcomes because I really want to make an impact. And I'm happy when others follow my lead. But it annoys me if I can't convince them to do so. And in my project weeks go by, and one part progresses very well, while the other doesn't. Why? Because the decision makers didn't bother to show up. I couldn't get them to commit. Even though it was one of the requirements for my concept to work. I was getting a fat paycheck, but inside, I felt the frustration built. And working under those conditions became harder and harder for me. Now nine months passed, and the contract was up to be extended, but I couldn't get myself to continue. The money just wasn't enough. And looking back at it today, I can easily reverse engineer what happened. I couldn't live my high Desire to lead and wasn't able to get the buy in for cooperation between the two parties. And it totally drained my energy.


Peter Axtell  14:13

The point is, that if your top Motives and Desires are not met, you're not going to have the power within you to become the person that you aspire to be, to master what you want to master, to feel good, to feel fulfilled and satisfied. To be clear, we are not saying all problems are going to disappear and there won't be setbacks. Life happens and there will always be obstacles. However, the more you're able to live your top Desires daily, the more you will be able to handle difficult situations as well. That's the promise of the Motivational Blueprint. By now, you might be wondering, how do I get my personal Motivational Blueprint? Well, there's a way to take all the guesswork out. We created the MotivationFinder self-assessment, specifically for this purpose. There are 18 Motives and 36 Desires that we were able to scientifically validate. It will tell you exactly what your Motivational Blueprint is, how you're wired. It's your operating manual if you will.


Nicola Vetter  15:31

And we will put it in the show notes. So just in case you're interested, you know where to find it. If you only took one idea from today's podcast, it would be this: Understand that the true source of power is knowing and living your Motives and Desires. Everything flows from there.


Peter Axtell  15:57

Thanks so much for joining us here today. For show notes go to, where we share links and other relevant information.


Nicola Vetter  16:09

And if you like what you've heard, share it with someone you care about. And subscribe, rate, and review our Inside-Out Career Design podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts, so you'll never miss an episode. Thanks so much for joining us here today. We'll see you next week for another episode. Same time, same place.