What is it that drives an athlete to keep going when winning is no longer a possibility? What keeps an ultra-distance marathoner running when the race leaders crossed the finish line yesterday? Can you notice how there is a purpose bigger than first prize? Who also says that is Don MacNaughton, consultant and high performance expert. He believes that athletes tend to strive for three main goals. Learn them and inject motivation in your team management:
When the personal goal is to become a master in some task. The quest is for self-improvement and success means to achieve a good performance, even if it’s not the top of the podium. People motivated by the opportunity to increase their mastery on a task seek to overcome themselves to reach an exceptional performance.
When the personal goal is to show the competitors a superior performance. The quest is to let others impressed with some personal ability and to be envied is a sign of success. People motivated by vanity strive to prove they are the best in their group.
3. Social Approval
When the personal goal is to please others or someone and feel accepted for the performance. People motivated by this kind of goal may stand out as team leaders, once they seek to develop a sense of belonging and collaboration in their team.
4. Even a mix
Many athletes are motivated both by mastery and vanity. A good example is Linford Christie, silver at the 1988 Olympics. In an interview, he said that, yes, he had run to win and trusted he could. An athlete moved by vanity, we may conclude. However, his satisfaction at having beaten his own record and having become the first European to run 100m in under 10s reveals that he was also encouraged by the mastery of his ability.
(Bonus) Dealing with failure
If you strive because vanity is what drives you, when you can’t win, you may feel bad for your reputation instead of stimulated to overcome yourself – and that’s not positive either for your professional nor for your personal life.
In a research on the various human mindsets, Carol Dweck went to a children’s classroom and gave them a challenge. When Carol emphasized that the goal was to master that task, the children showed a great effort and perseverance to complete it. However, when they should perform a similar task, but the goal of the children was to impress the others, the reaction to the challenge depended on the perceived ability, i.e. how good each feels. Children with high perceived ability fared well, but ignored the opportunity to improve their skills if it meant making a mistake in public. Meanwhile, children with low perceived ability did badly and tended to give up completely.
This experiment shows that when the goal is to achieve the mastery of a task, the motivation is much higher than when the self-image is at stake. Now you know what, after all, takes a child, an ultra-distance marathoner and any professional to engage. Remembering this is fundamental to improve your team management, develop the talents of your company and create a more influential leadership.
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