One topic that came up on our last survey and comes up on any survey I’ve ever done to people who lead people who take care of customers is Motivation.

You ask me how to motivate yourself and how to motivate your people as well. (And then of course there’s always motivating those customers to buy more and come back.)

I’ve studied a lot about motivation and a lot of it comes down to two things – your imagination and your memory. We use our imaginations, or our memories to create an image – a picture, sound, smell, taste or a feel of something we desire. The more senses we use to imagine or remember it the more the entire body gets involved (and excited) about it. What results is a form of intrinsic motivation – that which comes from within.

For instance: I’m motivated to write this missive to you because I imagine that it makes a difference in your life in some way. I like to help people take care of customers. I’m motivated to write it because I see how it helps me build my brand and my business. I’m motivated to write it because I made a commitment to and it makes me feel proud of myself when I keep my commitments. I feel good when I am able to express myself and when I see the final product in “print” on the web. I see myself as a teacher and so I teach.

See what I mean? I use both my imagination and my memory to form that image and move my body and mind into the process of writing. At the most basic, when we want to motivate ourselves we want to create an image of ourselves in the activity receiving and enjoying the benefits of the activity.

It’s a pretty good way to motivate others as well. When we engage their memory and their imagination in a vision of what you want to create together often motivation flows.

Let’s say you have a project you’d like to delegate because there is room for learning and development in the project. If you create the vision of the project only in your own mind and then enlist others to help get it done, exciting as it may seem at first, you’ll have to keep motivating them to do it.

If you invite them to contribute and build on your ideas and own a large stake of the vision, if you give them space to get it done their way, a chance to use their strengths towards a just right stretch challenge, and keep noticing what’s going well, and help remove obstacles, they’ll motivate themselves.

Dan Pink, author of “Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” calls into question the notion that if you reward something externally you will get more of the behavior you want, and if you punish it you will get less. Dan cites a study done by economists at MIT, financed by the Federal Reserve Bank which proves that as long the task to be performed requires only mechanical skill, motivators like money, work. The higher the pay, the higher the performance. This worked just fine in the 20th century with a good deal of the 20th century kind of work.

As soon as the task involved rudimentary thinking skills, larger rewards lead to poorer performance. Yep, you heard it right, seemed odd to them too.

Since the findings seemed so strange to them and so outside the current prevailing belief systems they held, they decided to duplicate the survey in a different culture and took it to India where they offered two weeks to two months salary as bonuses for increased performance. Once again the researchers found the same thing – higher incentives lead to poorer performance UNLESS the task was a simple “If..then” kind of simple mechanical task. As soon as creative thinking is needed in any way the motivators did not work.

Seems that there’s a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.

Seems that when it comes to tasks that require cognitive ability (even just a little of it) people are not motivated by rewards like money. (In fact those external motivators actually decrease performance.) When thinking about the task is involved, people are motivated by three things: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

People want self-direction, they don’t want to be told how to do things. They want to improve and have the chance to get better at things. They want to get stronger. They wanted to be connected to something larger than themselves.

Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

The carrot and stick works for people who are doing repetitive mechanical tasks that don’t require them to think. That’s a decreasing number of jobs. For most of the jobs people hold today we need a new understanding of what we as leaders need to provide.

I recommend listening to Dan Pink – he’s amazing and you will be shocked when you absorb what this video tells you. If you have 19 minutes go here: Dan Pink on Motivation – 19 minutes

If you can only find 11 minutes go here and get the shorter, illustrated version go here: Dan Pink on Motivation – 11 minutes
You’ll want to see this more than once so enjoy both!

You can be sure that this conversation will go on in other tips, speeches and meetings. That’s

HUGE. Start looking for ways you can foster Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

Start with yourself – what’s your purpose – what are you passionate about?

I’m here to raise the level of Positivity on the planet and the exhilaration level of the Universe. How about you?

All the best,



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