I posted the question in advance to OProducers, and Rose W. posted the following reply. It took a different direction than the bulk of my own answer, but I really liked it. Happily, Rose gave me permission to repost it here:
I’ve noticed when interacting with people they can be divided into two distinct groups, those who have “the spark” and those who do not. People with the spark don’t need someone to motivate them. They know what they want, what is needed and go for it. They might need a friend to talk to about specifics but what ever their current focus they attack with a drive. They always have initiative.Thank you, Rose!
On the other hand those without the spark are the opposite. They can be excellent at following directions but will never do anything on their own. They do the bare minimum and have no direction without someone to provide it. For example contrast my favorite babysitter with one I tested in the past. My favorite taught my girls some French and sang opera to them. If kids were in bed the dishes would get washed and toy messes would magically vanish. She was passionate about the job and did it to her best ability. She does everything like that. On the other hand the teenager I tested had no spark. We had an agreement she would do certain household tasks. She washed the dishes I specifically asked her to wash and then left the plates the girls cleared while she was here on the counter untouched. It was like there was no motive power beyond my instructions. The quality of her work was also very low.
The thing is I think the spark is something everyone might be born with… but too often it’s put out before it has a chance to grow. I have no idea how to restart it once it’s been killed. You can’t talk someone through finding their passion. Then you are providing the substitute spark and it will be gone when ever you are. You can’t hold someone else up. I could have told the second sitter “Wash those. And wash this way. And remember to dry.” But she’d be running off my instruction and not herself.
I’d say the best you can do is look for the spark where and when it exists and help fan the flame. Don’t push someone to do something but do provide support and good words to encourage them when they are using their own judgment. Don’t tell someone what to do. Ask them to think about their judgement and what they think they should do. Help them remember what the world thinks doesn’t matter.
That’s why I like positive discipline and teach my kids at home. It’s preventive medicine against what ever in the world is killing people’s spark. Encourage kids to be their own person and grow their own ideas and deal with their own consequences.