“For many of you who don’t have it all figured out it’s okay, that’s the same chair that I sat in. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result. Trust your gut, keeping throwing darts at the dart board, don’t listen to the critics, and you will figure it out.”—Will Ferrell
When motivating others, take away expectant freebies instead of giving rewards. That’s the take-away of a new study, which found that loss aversion works twice as well (or 82% of) task completion when compared to rewards, which works only 43% of the time.
In other words, promise a desired effect to everyone (in this case, no course final), then take it away if they fail to do as you ask (in this case, pass weekly quizzes). This may seem the same as rewarding someone with no final, but people place a higher value on things they already posses, which motivates them to work harder to keep it than doing something for an award.
Of course, awards still work and are often the only thing you can use when motivating yourself. But loss aversion is a lot more effective.
Despite its problems, the United States is still the most opportune place to go from rags to riches.
I refamiliarized myself with this concept two weeks ago after stumbling upon a program on CNBC that examined the storied (and controversial) history of the McDonald’s burger empire.
The report profiled one man who was raised in the slums without an education. Fifteen years ago he started in fries at the Golden Arches. Now he’s about to become a franchisee. The move will make him a millionaire given all the business McDonald’s generates but predicated on the man’s dedication.
Stories like this inspire and remind me that monetary riches are made by perseverance, not by industry.
Steve Jobs told a class of Stanford undergraduates in 2005: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” meaning don’t let external factors such as other people’s thinking dictate how you make a livelihood. In short, do what you love.
But doing what you love is just some overused romantic expression that doesn’t really apply outside of über geeks like Jobs, right? Wrong. Despite its being cliché and having been hijacked by get-rich-quick schemes, doing what you love can be achieved by anyone assuming you have the patience to seek it out, have the guts to act on your instincts, and are not easily persuaded by societal pressures when determining your career path.
My wife Lindsey is learning the piano taking formal weekly lessons. She used play when she was younger, but has since forgotten some of her chops. So for the last 6-7 months, she has been practicing often after she puts the baby down to sleep. The sweet sound fills our house. Though she doesn’t yet sound like Mozart, Liszt, or Beethoven, the aural harmony of progress, practice, effort, hard work, and dedication is music to my ears.
It’s very motivating for me to hear this change in action. My line of work is either visual, experiential, or cognitive so my ears don’t get to participate in gauging my development (if any). So outside of practicing musical instruments, I can’t think of many skills where you can hear actual progress aloud. Keep up the good work, Lindz!