"There are two ways to think about motivating others:
- You can try to motivate them, or
- You can leverage whatever motivation they have
Motivation is not constant. It comes and it goes. It's like the ocean's tide. It rolls in and it rolls back out. High motivation is like a big wave because they only happen under the right conditions.
Think of yourself as a surfing instructor and teach people how to make the best out of their positive emotional waves. Sometimes they're going to catch really good waves and you want to help them ride that wave for all it's worth. But what do waves do? They crash on shore and then the tide rolls back out. Motivation is going to happen the very same way. When that happens, the surfer is going to paddle back out and get positioned for the next big wave. Here's an easy way to think of it. When they're riding the wave, you want to focus them on harder tasks.
Here's how you ride big waves:
- Focus people on the harder priorities, like the changes they've been putting off, and encourage them to plan accordingly.
- This is a good time to focus on skill development too, so be encouraging and give a lot of positive feedback.
When the wave crashes and the tide rolls back out, focus people on easier tasks. Here's how you help people paddle back out:
- Focus on baby steps.
- Prioritize shorter term tasks and encourage them to play to their strengths.
- Focus them on quick wins and then celebrate their progress.
Baby steps and little quick wins will add up quickly and create the right conditions for the next motivational wave. When you do this, you teach people how to self-motivate. You don't have to motivate them as much. It's practical and realistic advice because motivation comes and goes. You're teaching them how to be the best version of themselves under any conditions. And I can't think of a greater gift you can give an employee."