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David Allen on Motivation

David Allen is a "time management guru" and author of GTD (Getting Things Done). I read one of his articles about motivation this morning and thought it was worth sharing.

I have written about motivation myself several times, and certainly can't really disagree with David's perspective. Whether we are parents/teachers trying to motivate a child or managers/executives trying to motivate staff we all tend to suffer from impatience, we have trouble understanding why "they" don't get it!

David's idea is to paint a picture for "them" of what is possible, to believe in their potential and by letting them see our belief sometimes that will help the path to awareness. Certainly it has been my experience that you can't "beat it into them" and you can't "nag it into them" but you also don't need to just accept the current situation! Mentoring, teaching, showing the way and a little patience are probably the best motivators ... if you have the luxury of time to do that!

In the workplace there is a little more leverage because if, after all is said and done, "they" still don't "get it" then "they" are unlikely to be around long!

Here are David's thoughts ...



How do you motivate people to change their behavior? This is a common question for managers, executives, coaches, teachers, parents, and anyone else who ever wants other people around them to act differently in a consistent way.

I hear this regularly, because as I work with people to set up systems to maintain focus and increase their productivity, they often complain that one of their problems is other people being unfocused and out of control. "How can I get my staff, my boss, my spouse and my kids to get this?!"

If you want to be good at getting other people to change, ask yourself: "Who got me to change?...and how did they do that?" Bring to mind the three people in your life you would say were most effective in getting you to improve, learn, stretch, and grow in a positive way. What was common to all three?

For me, there was only one common denominator about those people in my life. Whether it was the sweet little old teacher in the 4th grade, or the coach that ran my tail off in high school-they all held a vision of my being and doing better than I was currently doing, they held that as a standard when they related to me, and they cared enough about me to hold me to task when I fell short. (They also all did it lovingly, though it didn't feel like it sometimes!)

Really want people to change? Try that.

"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being." ... Goethe