The Problem With Motivation

My answer is always the same - you may get want you want in the short term, but everyone will lose out in the long therm. It’s the problem with motivation.

At every parenting seminar that I lead someone will ask, in a fretful voice, “Is it ok if I bribe my kids?” There is always some level of hesitation; the parents feel that, even though it sometimes seems to work, something is not quite right. And yet they think it can’t be all bad. Can it?

It never fails - the next question, after I give the reason why, is, “Well, then, how do I motivate my kids?”

It is basically the same question that I got as a guest speaker in a college class on project management: “How do I motivate my coworkers when they are not working up to expectations?”

You can’t. It’s the problem with motivation.

The Paradox of Responsibility

My wife and I were going for a walk the other day and noticed that there was a lot of trash along the sidewalk and in the undergrowth. This is also the same path that a lot of teenagers use to walk to and from high school. My first thought was, “What a bunch of irresponsible kids that can’t hang onto their trash until they got home.” Honestly, it was probably my second and third thought as well. Eventually i got to thinking, “Does it make me irresponsible if I see trash that I know should be picked up but I don’t do it, even if it isn’t mine?”

That thought obviously disturbed me more than the first one, so I thought I should explore what it really means to be responsible and why it’s important. Responsibility and accountability are terms that are kicked around a lot, but I’m not sure if we really understand what we are talking about or when it should be meaningful. I certainly want other people to be responsible; it’s easy to take a moral high ground and point out how their irresponsibility is ruining their lives and my own. But I am not so sure about it when other people are holding me responsible. I am not sure exactly what I should be accountable for anyway.

Is Technology Making The Wrong Things Easy?

I’ve worked in the technology industry for a number of years. Long enough to have seen some incredible advances in what computer technology can do to help us solve puzzles. And then there are other times where I am puzzled about what technology is doing to us.

Trying To Achieve Goals In A Fog

Clarity is a simple concept. It means something is clear and comprehensible, which would also lead you to believe that it should then be easy to communicate. Clarity in our work and personal lives sounds like a thing of beauty because you and the people around you know where you are going and why. Everybody who has clarity on the goal would be heading in the same direction and helping each other get there.

And yet.

Curiosity Turns Your Brain Into A Sponge (In A Good Way)

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of trying to spoon-feed a toddler, you know that you have to dress appropriately - it’s going to be a mess. Something resembling a hazard suit might be the most appropriate, with plastic spread across the floor in all directions. Please do not attempt this without a water hose at the ready.

The effort itself doesn’t sound all that tough: put content on transfer mechanism, convey to recipient who then chews and digests it. That is the idea, at least, and some of that banana-carrot-mango-sauce might actually make into the baby’s mouth.

Are You Curious About Becoming Better At Conversations?

There is a guy who I met in Pittsburgh who is my favorite person ever to have a conversation with over lunch or coffee. It wasn’t the content of any one conversation, it’s that we could have a conversation about most anything that interested us. And, get this - we could even talk about politics or religion without someone walking off in a righteous huff.

It helped that he is a pretty intelligent dude, but that’s not what makes him great at conversations. It is his curiosity.

The Fruits of a Problem May Be the Problem

Old agricultural metaphor are fascinating - sometimes we are using them even though the closest we ever get to harvesting a crop is squeezing a tomato in the store; the thought of even getting dirt under your nails may send shivers down your spine. One of the most common is the idea of bearing fruit.

A Mentor You Shall Have

How cool would it be to have your own personal Yoda to help guide you in ways of the business force? Someone who helps you do things you weren't sure were possible, and believes in your potential? I believe the benefits to individuals and to organizations are immediately obvious, yet too often I've been in mentoring programs that have come straight from the dark side – tormented with what could have been while hanging on for dear life before dropping into a dark abyss because of daddy issues.