Dan Pink

What is Enough ‘Positivity’?

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As we go through our personal and professional lives, we come across people with a variety of emotions; some can be very negative and some very positive and the rest are anywhere in between. But what is right blend? People who are overly negative can be “drainers”, sucking the life out of you; and then those that are all “sunshine and roses” are simply out of touch with reality.positive

In his book, “To Sell is Human”, Dan Pink quotes research conducted by Barbara Frederickson of The University of North Carolina as to what is the right balance between positivity and negativity is in order to be most effective. The results suggest, for optimum performance, there should be a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative emotions. You can do the test yourself at http://www.positivityratio.com/. This is essentially saying that one needs to be positive most of the time but that some degree of negativity is appropriate. It might be akin to bringing positivity to what you do, but in a grounded way (e.g. challenge appropriately). This has tremendous implications to teachers, parents, leaders and indeed coaches.

In coaching, the objective is to facilitate a process that leads a client ultimately to where they want to be – a better place or outcome. Most coaches feel that by being positive there is a contagion associated with this that is good for the client; this is true and who’d want to be coached by Debbie Downer? Additionally, by having this appropriate blend of positivity, it can help create engagement, motivation and creativity in the process. It also builds confidence and likeability, on the part of the client, in the coach’s abilities. At the same time, there is accountability, which is challenging and sometime uncomfortable for a client; but its helps to get things done. These are key ingredients for success.

Most good coaches already have this, its part of their DNA and, most likely it’s why they became coaches in the first place. But for those who might struggle in this department, take the test and consciously begin to look more at the opportunities to succeed rather than all the challenges impeding you. Is your glass half full or half empty?

Purpose – Key to Successful Execution

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alignMuch has been written on the whole subject of engagement and motivation. Its cornerstone is anchored in the idea of alignment; a connection between what is being done and what it actually means to the person. However if somebody is performing a task but doesn’t quite understand how their contribution fits into the overall objective, something is missing. This is often referred to as purpose.

Daniel Pink in his work around this subject highlights purpose as being key to performance so long in is in tandem with mastery (knowledge) of what you do and the autonomy (freedom) to carry out the task. But purpose is something that many misunderstand or it feels like this intangible that you can’t quite get your head around. But in truth, it’s the basic requirement, and in many respects, it’s the elementary price of entry. Within Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it probably belongs somewhere between love/belonging and esteem.

Let’s break down purpose into 4 simple building blocks that will help better understand its criticality. For illustrative purpose, let’s use the task of removing snow from your street, which is very apt for most New Englanders around this time. Four things need to be present to ensure the existence of purpose.

  1. Intent – it’s the what – remove the snow
  2. Consequence – it’s the why – people / cars can move freely
  3. Knowledge Required – it’s the how – ability and equipment to execute
  4. Recognition – satisfaction / reward associated with completion

Every task from the most basic to advanced must in some way include these characteristics of purpose. Think about an assignment, a project, a trip or anything that requires you to optimize your motivation level to ensure a successful outcome. Then ask yourself, what is the intent, the consequence, the knowledge required and the recognition. If you can answer all these questions satisfactorily, you have nailed the purpose and will most likely achieve a successful outcome.

Influence and Relationships

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When you consider words like power, selling, advocating and negotiating, they all really speak about one’s ability to influence.  The Webster Dictionary defines influence as “the capacity of persons or things to produce affects on others by intangible or indirect means”.  The interesting and somewhat surprising aspect of this definition is the mention of “intangible or indirect means” for achieving a result.  It almost implies that there is something subtle or covert going on.negotiating

In truth, what this essentially is pointing to is the fact that most of us are not moved to do things purely for extrinsic reasons such as tangible rewards.  Motivation guru, Dan Pink suggests that for many activities, particularly as they might pertain to power, selling, advocating and negotiating, it is more the intrinsic factors that are the driving forces.

However research conducted by Sinan Aral, at NYU’s School of Business suggests that the power of influence also has its limitations.  He cites how Ashton Kucher has over 13 million Twitter followers but very few would actually act on what he might suggest.  In other words he has in fact very little influence.

The key, according to Aral, to all this is the connection that exists between the person doing the influencing and the person being influenced.  Think about it, people are more likely to act on the recommendation of somebody they know.  In this context  the missing link within the true power of influence is  the existence of a relationship between parties.

So when you consider how best to exert power, sell product, advocate for a cause or negotiate an outcome, establish some form of connection or relationship first; it will have a huge bearing on your ability to influence the outcome.

Positivity & Coaching

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As we go through our personal and professional lives we come across people with a variety of emotions; some can be very negative and some very positive and the rest are anywhere in between.  But what is right blend?  People who are overly negative can be “drainers”, sucking the life out of you; and then those that are all “sunshine and roses” are simply out of touch with reality.

In his book, “To Sell is Human”, Dan Pink quotes research conducted by Barbara Frederickson of The University of North Carolina as to what is the right balance between positivity and negativity is in order to be most effective.  The results suggest, for optimum performance, there should be a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative emotions.  You can do the test yourself at http://www.positivityratio.com/. This is essentially saying that one needs to be positive most of the time but that some degree of negativity is appropriate.  It might be akin to bringing positivity to what you do but in a grounded way (e.g. challenge appropriately).  This has tremendous implications to teachers, parents, leaders and indeed coaches. Read more

Motivation – what’s it all about?

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Shawn Anchor of the Happiness Factor claims that 10% of one’s happiness comes from externally driven factors such as money, relationships, possessions and status, while 90% is driven solely from how you choose to see things. The key word here is choice; and he claims that because we have this option we can exert more control over our happiness than we might think.

Could we possibly look at motivation in a similar fashion? How much is externally driven and how much is from within? Could it be as radical as with the Happiness Factor that 10% of one’s motivation being driven by factors such as rewards and incentives (extrinsic) with the remainder being what truly makes us feel good (intrinsic)? Read more

Motivation – Old Habits Die Hard

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Why do people donate time and money to help charities? Every year people give millions of hours to organizations like Habitat for Humanity for free and whatever needs to get done whether construction, painting, cleaning up, etc. gets done without any complaints. People almost forget about who they are, where they come from or what their vocational status might be and are simply happy to do a good deed. Then when you ask them why they do it you inevitably hear them say it was so much fun. Read more

How Motivation Impacts Employee Engagement

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Engagement is a direct result of the various motivators you experience. These motivators can be intrinsic and relate to your actual work experiences such as your job, you boss, your team and in general, the organization you belong to. However there are also extrinsic motivators that are typically regarded as much more universal.

In the past these extrinsic motivators were thought to revolve around the “carrot and stick”. Today the notion that rewards motivate people has been replaced with the realization that rewards only motivate people to seek the rewards (at any cost sometimes). This of course only promotes short term thinking such as what happened in many of the failed financial institutions to the catastrophic detriment of what is most important in the long run. Businesses that run from quarter to quarter are compromising the long term viability of their organization and that is exactly what most “carrot and stick” systems do. Read more