Are you a carrot, a stick or an empty box of chocolates? Think also not just in terms of yourself, but in terms of people you bring on board.

A fun way to motivate sales people and employees is to ask, “would you be interested to earn grocery money, vacation money, or retirement income?” Then, I show them 3 annual income goals. I break down the annual incomes to monthly income goals and ask which income level they would like to be at. Then I ask the question, “if you were earning this extra money every month for the rest of your life, what would that do for you?”  The next question I ask is “Do you feel any satisfaction in helping others?”  “What if you could help others, and help yourself?

Then I ask, “OK, just for fun, if money were no object if you could have anything in life you wanted – what would it be… let’s just have fun and really day dream … big !!! What would your life look like?”

The Carrot

The response to the above is the carrot.  Motivation is never about money. Its what money can do. Money is energy. Money is the energy behind the activities of life. Money is the energy behind charities, behind luxuries, behind missions, behind everything in life that is to exist, there is an energy that is needed and this energy is money. Mother Theresa may have taken a vow of poverty, but she depended upon the extreme wealth of others in order to carry out her goals.  If you totaled all of the contributions of her charities combined actually do you know Mother Theresa would be on the list of wealthiest people in the world? Mother Theresa may not have personally owned anything, but she depended on someone else to own the airplane that she flew in to have an audience with the pope. She depended upon someone else to pay for the fuel to fly the plane, she depended on someone else to pay the pilot and the flight attendants and the crew that were involved with lift off and landing of the plane.

Money is the energy that keeps research and development going for cures, money is the energy that provides people time to be with the people they love. Money is energy. When you have a lot of energy, you can get a lot done. When you have a little energy, you get a little done. Why not have a lot of energy… right?  We all want more energy for ourselves physically – right? Money is that same kind of energy for the physical universe. Money allows us better technology, better computers, faster phones. Money provides us with the opportunities to share the world with our loved ones. How would it be to actually climb the Egyptian pyramids instead of just showing your children and grand children a picture in a text book?  What if you could buy brand new text books for whole entire schools?  Money provides the energy to do those things.

These are peoples’ carrots. Maybe its mission work, maybe its a new car, a honey moon you never got to go on, a family vacation, showing your Mom the world, having the big dream home because someone once told you you would never live in a place so fantastic. It doesn’t matter what your carrot is – everyone has a different carrot. But everyone does have a carrot. But… the carrot isn’t always enough. For very few people, the carrot is enough to spur them on. Olympians, Champion Athletes, and very very driven people, can make it alone chasing after their carrots, but most of us, need a little something more.

So, we find out what people are afraid of losing.

The Empty Box of Chocolates

The fear of loss is what I call the empty box of chocolates. If there is one box of chocolates and a room full of people and you really want some chocolate – you’re going to make sure you move to the front of the room aren’t you? You don’t want to wait until that box of chocolates circulates throughout the whole room and then it may be empty by the time it gets to you… right?  No – you want to move yourself into position to get a chocolate. And if you want a really good piece, your favorite piece, then you really move fast, right?

This is the category of motivation that most people fall into.  Its motivation by loss. People will remain in the most dead-end, horrible working conditions for fear of not being able to find anything better and they fear going without anything. In their minds even the worst of something is better than the fear of not having anything. And to some degree there is truth in that because we all need to survive, but we want to encourage our staff to strive for better for themselves and the company.

We can live for years and years trying to lose weight. Wishing, hoping to lose weight, starting out on a new weight loss program every year, only to end up quitting. But… when a doctor tells us, listen, you’ve got to lose weight or you will die. That pretty much moves us into action – right? If you’re diagnosed with diabetes or cancer or some horrible disease and the doctor says, you’ve got to change your ways, most people do. The fear of death is far more powerful and moves people to action more rapidly and fervently than the carrot of “I want to be thinner and healthier.”

Motivation comes from below. Most people are motivated by what is beneath them  and what they fear to lose, than what they could be reaching towards. You’ve heard the phrase, “light a fire under one’s bottom?” Maybe you’ve used it or wondered how to set fire to your least motivated sales reps’ underwear?

If you are in the desert and the sun is literally boiling hot – it will boil a pot of water, you will still boil the water faster if you light a fire under it. Two pots. One pot left to boil from the sun above and one left to boil with a fire under it. Bet on the one with the fire under it to boil faster!

The Stick

Once in a while we all need a little urging forward. We need an accountability partner to keep us on our toes. This is the stick. Sometimes your stick is your competition. In the case of Lance Armstrong, his stick is whichever opponent is closest behind. The defending world record holder, her stick is the person chasing her heels in second place.

As a boss and leader in the workplace you have to find each employee a stick… that one thing or one person or those things and those people who will continue to nudge them forward and keep pushing them, when they feel like you can’t or don’t want to go any further.

If your staff only states their goals – says them aloud, they have only a 5% chance of reaching them. If they state them, write them down & have an accountability partner, they have a 95% chance of reaching their goals.  Would like to give your staff a fighting chance?  Select accountability partners for everyone in your office or on your team. Even contracted labor. Help them feel part of the inner-office team by pairing them up with Accountability partners in your office.

A note about the stick. You don’t want to beat yourself too hard. No flesh wounds please!  Be kind and gentle on yourself.