How to Motivate People
I have often been called a motivational speaker, and it slightly drives me crazy because as I like to point out in my seminars, there is no such thing as an unmotivated person. Invariably, someone raises their hand and says, “You have not met my teenager.” My response is that they are very motivated; it is just to please their peers, not so much to please their parents and teachers.
Even a “couch potato” is motivated; it is just to remain on the couch (maybe because it is safe or matches their view of what they are capable of…)
However, threaten an “unmotivated” person or perhaps more obviously, threaten the life of someone they care about more than they care about themselves, and they get off the couch to perform… only to sink back in the cushions later once they are done because they do not believe in themselves (which is a different problem than motivation).
So what really happens to people that drives their behaviors and actions?
Leveraged Equations: A neural equation, in essence, is driven by the neural “software” that says, if I do “A”, I will get “B” as a result. If I mess up “A”, the pain associated with “C” will drive me to do or not do “A” until I am sure I can avoid or withstand the pain of “C”.
Leverage, as you might guess, is the weighted result that changes the power and speed of the equation. A grandmother cannot lift a car, but if you put her grandchild underneath it, you change the leverage.
Someone can’t lose weight, insert their high school reunion or a child’s wedding, you change the leverage.
Someone doesn’t like to cold call, put them on probation and threaten to fire them, you change the leverage.
These common examples make sense, yet all of them are pain avoidance leveraged.
What if you told someone they will live 5 extra years if they lost weight? What if you told someone, complete “X” number of cold calls will get you “Y” percentage of sales which will lead to a huge bonus? The issue now is that you are on the back side of the equation: “What if I mess this up? I am on a diet, I hate it, and I am not sure about a healthier life…” or, “I could make the calls, but I would mess up the percentage of closes, get all that rejection for nothing…” So even if you, the leader, kick the leverage into the positive, they can unwire it based on their mental software.
So oftentimes, whether you dangle the carrot or the stick in front of them, you haven’t hit the real equation to leverage their change (or yours for that matter.)
Embedded programs: These are the hidden equations that are not obvious or in the consciousness.
For example, I often talk about the professional athlete whose father deeply imbedded “it doesn’t matter how strong or fast you are, it matters how hard you work.” As a result, she developed incredible work ethic and success. It wasn’t until later, when she retired and began a new career, that she couldn’t catch up to experienced competition by mere work ethic. And that’s when the imbedded program kicked in. What child would you ever say: “it doesn’t matter how strong or fast YOU are…”? Only a slow, weak child!
Another example comes from a client on my radio program. This caller told me that she did not believe in the “Laws of Attraction.” She had been working very hard to build wealth, and every time she got close, something would happen to remove the wealth. I asked her, “tell me what will happen in your life when you are wealthy.” She dreamily replied, “I will have a successful job, I will have a great marriage, I will have 2 kids… and more.” I asked her, “What kind of relationship do you have now?” She got quiet, and then began to reluctantly talk about a 5 year relationship that was really going nowhere. I got her to see that her imbedded command was that wealth equaled love and having children. This command was sabotaging her because her acceptance of a relationship with a man that she had no intention of marrying or having children kept it at bay.
Thus, you have to dig deeper into why people don’t do what they say they want to do. When you hit the correct equation that is the hold up to “motivation” and apply the right leverage, miraculous things can begin to happen. And, think of this powerful principle, it is ALWAYS powerful pleasure that has more leverage to change something quickly and permanently, and punishment never does!
Getting pregnant will virtually always change a woman who smokes and can’t quit… instantly into a non-smoker… for the health of her infant. Connect a soldier to the dream of patriotism and the storied history of his unit, and he will go into battle easily and with pride. Someone who can’t cold call easily can do charity work for a friend (a telethon for PBS) and they will cold call all day!
A leader must ponder this equation: someone will go to church every day because they love God, and another will go to church every day because they fear God. Which equation will motivate your team to do its best, at its most intense speed, with fervor and power? The leader must know this equation at the heart of his or her team. You cannot just continue to push forward using old psychology and old equations. You might get a small, incremental percent uplift in any given year, but if the planet is in a mean spirit, then you are not gaining ground. You just hope you are losing less ground than your competition.
In summary, both internally when you review you and your motivations and externally with your team, really look at the equations that drive the behavior and actions. If you or they are stuck, I can almost guarantee you that you are wrestling with a non-critical equation. When we figure out the real reason, and it will always have a form of… “What happens if I do this? And what happens if I fail at this?” Write it down. Look at it in black and white. See it for what it truly is. And know with certainty, that ALL humans are motivated all the time – solve the equation and watch what happens.