Thursday, December 18, 2008

How Leaders Use Value to Maintain Motivation

PARIS Do you ever feel like a statue at a pigeon convention? Although I teach leaders how to motivate others, occasionally I'm not very fired up myself, especially when I get hit by one of life's unexpected waves.

How about you? How do you feel when you're smacked by a setback at work or home? How do you respond (or do you react?) when people are difficult, equipment breaks down, your schedule seems out of control, or those pigeons are threatening to hold a convention over your head?

To help deal with those difficult days, you might find it helpful to reflect on three principles I learned from Nick. Nick was a friend and coworker at Siemens, several years ago, who crashed his hang-glider into a mountainside. (His entire story is told in my book, 'Selling with Science & Soul') Despite breaking bones in his back, arms, legs, and feet, Nick smashed every sales record in an entire industry THAT SAME YEAR. Nick's remarkable comeback can help you lead your team back from any setback if you focus on three 'VALUEable' motivational principles.

Principle #1 - Recognize Value

Does what you do make a difference to anyone? I bet the answer is yes. You and your team make a difference to customers, their families, your coworkers; not to mention the daily influence you have on your family, friends, and neighbors. How often and how well do you remind your team about the value they bring to others?

Nick rebounded faster from his disaster because he believed and affirmed that he made a valuable contribution to people at work and home. He reminded himself on a daily basis that the equipment he sold truly helped his customers and their patients. Remember the movie classic, ‘It's a Wonderful Life?’ One of its timeless lessons of this classic is that each of us has a subtle and substantial impact on others.

If you want to bounce back quickly from those pesky problems that sting you throughout the day, reaffirm the value you bring to people every day. For example, a leader from my class recently e-mailed me that she now starts her staff meetings by asking her supervisors to report on how they helped others during the week. How could you adapt this idea to fit your team at work and at home?

Principle #2 - Appreciate Value

While the first lesson reminds us to focus on the value we bring to others, the second asks us to reward this value. It's great to find value in what you and others do, it's also important to celebrate what you find. What you appreciate, appreciates. Nick told me that one of the other reasons he recovered quickly was because his family, friends, and customers applauded the small steps he took getting back to work. In a small way, I contributed by sending him cards reminding him that his customers appreciated the business calls he was making from his living room couch. How can you celebrate the value your team members bring to their "customers," and each other, every day?

Principle #3 - Value the Present

Nick says his brush with death gave him a new perspective on life. To live life fully, he realized he needed to value each moment completely. The same is true for you and your team. When you focus on whatever you are doing, you are honoring the very gift of life - which is the present. Valuing the present is as old as Zen (Be here now!) and religion (THIS is the day the Lord has made!).

When I was visiting Nick at his home during his recovery, I told him about how much I disliked completing my expense reports. He reminded me that Zig Ziglar states, "Every day above ground is a great one." We both laughed, and then talked about the importance making the most out of every moment. Nick taught me that one way of valuing the present was to turn frustration into fascination. Rather than being frustrated doing my expenses, I started to get fascinated by the rich, sensory detail of the activity. I focused on all the sights (all those numbers, colors, different surfaces...), sounds (computers keys, papers shuffling, birds in the background...), and feelings (surface of the keyboard, the variety of receipts...) of the experience. It is wonderful life when you focus and value the wonderful minutes that compose life. (There is no time except the present.) How might you apply this principle to help you handle the challenging aspects of your life at work and home?

Next time a customer is rude, the equipment breaks down, the schedule seems out of control, or those pigeons are circling overhead, remember Nick's 'VALUEable' lessons. Recognize the value in all you do. Celebrate it every day. And do it now. That's the motivating value of value! Let me know how you use value to stay motivated. (Check out other ways leaders get their people fired up at )

Keep stretching,


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