// you’re reading...

How to Win

A Key to Motivation

Few paragraphs could ever teach more about motivation than the following one, written by Geoff Colvin and appearing in the acknowledgments section of his book, “Talent is overrated.”

This book would not have been written if my “Fortune” colleague Jerry Useem hadn’t walked into my office and and asked if I wanted to write something for a special issue on great performance in business. It turned out I’d been waiting a long time for that question. I held strong views and had considerable curiosity about the topic, far more than I realized.

Note what Colvin says: “I’d been waiting a long time for that question.”

Have you ever been bursting to have someone ask your opinion on something? Have you ever been yearning to pitch in, only to be ignored?

I believe that most people truly want to help; they are only waiting to be asked. Of course, you’re tempted to say, “If you really want to help, why not just pitch in?”

There is, of course, some merit in that. But you can also bet that there is a ton of talent, training, skill, and desire on the sidelines. Someone is begging you, “Put me in, coach!”

William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

In his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie devotes a lot of time to motivation. He says that instead of GETTING people to do what you want them to do, make them WANT to do what you want them to do.

Using James’ quote about the craving to be appreciated, you can say this: Find out what people themselves want to do, and urge them to do it!

Years ago in my sports writing days, a wonderful old baseball writer named Fred Down wrote a column about asking the right question. He told the story of an interview with star hitter Ted Williams. The interview plodded along, with Down asking the usual questions and Williams going through the motions with his answers.
Then something changed. Down asked a question that was off the beaten track, and Williams lit up! He talked so fast that Down could not could write fast enough to keep up with him! He had asked the right question, and hit the one subject that Williams was just bursting to discuss.

So there’s definitely this impulse in all of us. Our job as coaches is to find a way to bring out what those around us are bursting to contribute.


No comments for “A Key to Motivation”

Post a comment