A Two Foot Difference

There are two ways to motivate people. They are very close. In fact, they are only two feet apart.

One way is a kick in the seat of the pants. My father was the master of this technique. I can remember at least two times he kicked me with authority on my backside. Both times I deserved it. I had made poor choices and when he became aware he “motivated” me not to act that way. Obviously, this can be metaphorical. It can mean any method used to give negative reinforcement against bad behavior.

The other way is a pat on the back. This happens when we see someone doing a good job, and you offer encouragement to keep on this path. There are people who have the gift of encouragement. They write cards, give gifts, email, text and find any number of ways to show their appreciation of your work. They are full of kind words about everything other people are doing.

This two-foot difference is an enormous distance when it comes to motivation.

Through the years I have seen people who only know one way to motivate people. Most of my boy’s coaches in sports have been people who yelled and tried to use negative consequences to motivate them. Unfortunately, instead of motivating them, they withdraw and perform worse. I have also known people in Church who are purely into positive reinforcement. They fear any confrontation because they do not want to be mistaken as a negative person. The side effect is that people are never pushed to grow.

All of us want to see other people perform at their best. We want our young people to achieve great accomplishments and live up to their full potential. We want to see those close to us grow, mature and thrive. We want to lead others to the best possible future.

If you are experiencing trouble in motivating people, you may need to move your point of contact up or down a couple of feet to see a different result.

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