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Harvard Business Review on Motivating People: You Care the Most

“Individuals must motivate themselves.”

Harvard Business Review on Motivating People by Brook Manville and Steve Kerr, page 19

I have gone on record more than once and reminded audiences that, “I can’t motivate you. I can only stimulate your thinking so that you eventually motivate yourself.”

That may sound strange coming from a motivational speaker, but I stand by my words and am reminded of the time I asked my boss to buy me a spinnaker. At the time I owned a 27-foot sailboat and I spent all of my free time cruising the waters from New Jersey to Nantucket Island in Massachusetts.

Click on the book to grab your own copy of "Harvard Business Review on Motivating People"

Click on the book to grab your own copy of “Harvard Business Review on Motivating People”

I entered my boss’s office and asked him what did I have to do for him to buy me a 3rd downwind sail called the spinnaker. He promptly suggested in no hazy phraseology to get back to work. I did, and still do, find his response to be incredulous.

I told him exactly what motivated me and he dismissed the notion as being unrealistic. A week later, he dangled a cruise to Bermuda in front of me thinking that a visit to that island paradise would excite my creativity and end up “floating my boat.”

The problem was I did not want a trip to Bermuda… or an office with a window… or my birthday off… or a free dinner… or a half-day on Friday. None of those things were of any interest to me. I wanted a spinnaker.

His correct response according to me would have sounded something like this:  “Mike, that sounds exciting. Sit down and let’s talk about the ways you can earn that sail. And I will help you do it.”

One of the hardest lessons a business owner needs to come to terms with is that nobody cares about his/her business as much as they do. Your employees, as well as you and me, dance to the beat of our own drum. We know what we like and we know what turns us on. Guessing and thinking for us is futile exercise. We need to identify our objectives and then decide what they are worth time and effort wise.

Once we buy into our dreams, we can devise a plan to make them come true. You must find your motivation within to make your life the wonderful experience you have in mind.

And one more thing. Yes, you can.


Mike presents a business-building webinar on the third Thursday of every month sponsored by AmaWaterways. To receive monthly invitations send Mike an email with the words “business training” in the Subject Box. You will also receive a link to the recorded version.

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