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Beating the Odds

What Motivates People?

This article from US News sheds some light on what motivates children and adolescents. It compares and contrasts pupils in the United States and China.

It says that up to a certain age, pupils in both countries are motivated by a desire to please their parents. Then things change. As they move into adolescence, according to the article, American children want to create some distance from their parents. In China, however, it’s just the opposite — young people want to affirm their value to their family.

Whether you agree with the viewpoint or not, one thing is for sure, namely, that coaches must be masters of motivation. If you’re not spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to motivate the people you’re leading, you’re spending time on the wrong thing.

Peak performance guru Dr. Anders Ericsson has outlined four optimal conditions for acquiring skill. The first is “motivation to attend to task.” Without this one, none of the other three conditions means anything.

Whenever I speak to sports or business groups, I try to pick up tips on how to get the most out of people. My friend and co-author Gary Pritchard is studying various personality types, and how each one responds to authority.

Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda was a master of motivation. He still is. Mike Eruzione, captain of the Miracle on Ice hockey team, speaks on the subject.

But they’re not the only ones with a gift for motivating. You can make it your business to become as skilled, or more, than they are. With the possible exception of teaching, nothing you do as a coach will be as important.

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Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works with coaches, athletes and teams to make their practice time more productive and efficient. He and Gary Pritchard are co-authors of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.” To see Coach Tully and Coach Pritchard discuss “Seven Ways to Prepare for Adversity,” click here. You can follow him on Twitter at coachtully@twitter.com


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