Military Wisdom – How to Motivate

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:

Humor in Uniform 


A Spoof By Vikram Karve 

NB: The generic term “Fauj” means Military and includes all the three Armed Forces – Army, Navy and Air Force


If you have studied “Management” – you will be aware of various “Motivation Theories” which you can use to “motivate” employees working in the civilian industry/corporate sector/offices.

A few of these  “Employee Motivation Theories”  which I have heard of are listed below:

  1. Maslow Hierarchy of Needs Theory
  1. ERG Motivation Theory Alderfer
  1. McClelland Achievement and Acquired Needs Theory
  1. Stacey Adams Equity Theory
  1. Herzberg Hygiene Factors and Motivators Theory
  1. Vroom Expectancy Motivation Theory
  1. Hackman and Oldham Job Characteristics Model

If you surf the internet – you will find a deluge of information of “motivation” and “motivation theories”.

Ostensibly – most people think that these same civilian motivation theories are applicable to the military as well.

That is what was told to me at the numerous “Defence Management” courses I attended from time to time as a part of my “Officership Training”.

However – the motivation style that I observed during my long military career – in the Navy – was totally different from the well-known motivation theories taught in management courses.

In the Military – FEAR is used as the prime motivator

In fact – Military Law and Rules/Regulations have been framed in such a way as to inspire fear in the hearts of those subject to these laws/rules/regulations.

You don’t believe me…?

Just read  ‘The Navy Act, 1957’

Most Chapters/Sections of this Act are devoted to discipline, punishments, court-martial etc.

By chance – if any Navy aspirant reads ‘The Navy Act’ – he/she may think twice before signing up.

(To be fair to the Navy – I remember that it was mentioned in our appointment letter that we should obtain a copy of The Navy Act, 1957 – and we were advised to read it to familiarize ourselves about the Navy before joining – they had even given details of Law Book Stores where it would be available)

Well – I am not familiar with Army and Air Force Acts/Rules/Regulations – but I can guess – that just like Navy Act/Regulations – these military regulations have been designed to inspire fear – because – probably – the Military believes that:

“Fear is the Key to Discipline” 

So – FEAR is used as the ‘Key Motivator’


As we discussed earlier – in the Military – FEAR is used as the ‘Prime Motivator’.

The Rules/Regulations ensure that a military officer is permanently under the fear of “disciplinary action” – from the day he joins the military – till he retires from service and becomes a civilian again.

However – there are other “fears” employed to “motivate” you at various stages of your military career.

A newly recruited Cadet is “motivated” by the “fear of physical punishment”.

Any “mistake” committed by a cadet is “rewarded” by various kinds of physical/corporal punishments.

Once a cadet passes out of the academy and becomes an officer – he enjoys a relatively good stress-free life – till he approaches the “promotion zone” for select rank.

As he spends these crucial years of his military career – doing “criteria appointments/courses” – the officer is overcome by “career fear”  

Now – “fear of supersession” becomes the main motivator.

Suppose the officer gets promoted – and remains in the “rat race” – this “fear of supersession” will continue to “motivate” him till such time he finally gets passed over for promotion.

Once an officer is superseded and has been passed over for promotion – the “fear of supersession” is no longer works a “motivator” for him.

Now – after supersession – the superseded officer can be “motivated” by the “fear of transfer” or “posting fear”.

This last “motivator” (“fear of transfer”) can be used effectively to “motivate” the officer till the last day until the officer finally retires from service.


Of course – there are some self-actualized “mavericks” who are beyond motivation.

As Cadets – they are willing to undergo any amount of physical hardships.

These tough guys are not afraid of punishments – and they are not bothered about restrictions/relegations.

So – fear of physical punishment” does not work as a “motivator” for these mavericks.

Later – as Officers – they don’t care two hoots about promotion and posting.

Yes – I have seen officers who are not bothered about promotion – they are prepared to go anywhere on posting.

So – “fear of supersession” and “fear of transfer” do not work as “motivators” for these “self-actualized officers”.

These “fearless” individuals who are beyond “motivation” – they are the truly happy officers who genuinely enjoy every moment of their military life – from their cadet life – right until their retirement.


Copyright © Vikram Karve
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  1. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
  2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:

This is a revised re-post of my article “MILITARY MOTIVATION” written by me Vikram Karve one year ago in 2015 and posted by me Vikram Karve at url: and and

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