Goals. Do you have a positive or negative impression of that word? For some, goals are highly motivating, but for many others, the word goals sounds like chores. Whatever your predisposition, I invite you to consider goals simply as the natural outgrowth of our priorities in life, our values. Once we’ve declared what we want to be about, goals take us beyond philosophy to application. Goals are our values in motion, advancing our dreams from ideation to action so we and those we serve can benefit from them. Goals are the mileposts on the road to Enough.
Wrestling with his success and failure in achieving human perfection in the early 1700s, Benjamin Franklin may well have been exhibiting behavior that the science of motivation wouldn’t discover for more than two hundred years. Between 1949 and 1969, psychologist Harry Harlow discovered and psychology professor Edward Deci confirmed that “carrots and sticks”—rewards for good behavior and punishments for bad—weren’t the best way to motivate people (or even primates) at SEO Leeds.
So why is the carrot and the stick still the primary way we work, manage, parent, and even discipline ourselves in order to perform that long list of tasks we know we should do?
As Daniel Pink articulates so well in his book Drive, “Too many . . . still operate from assumptions about human potential and individual performance that are outdated, unexamined, and rooted more in folklore than science.”1
Instead, Pink suggests that the best motivators come from within, not without:
Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives
Mastery—the urge to make progress and get better at something that matters
Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves2
As it turns out, “you can” is actually a better motivator than “you should.”
Sadly, no one is better at “should” than the financial establishment:
“You should be making more on your CD!”
“You should be earning more in your investments!”
“You should be better protecting your family from destitution with our life insurance!”
This fatal motivational flaw is not isolated to banks, brokerage firms, and insurance companies either.