We’ve been intentionally scaring ourselves for a long time: Haunted houses have their roots in the early 19th century. Then in 1969, when Disney got into the act, houses of horror became common, commercial successes.
Of course, fear isn’t just used for entertainment; it’s also a motivator that some leaders use intentionally. As humans, we experience a greater emotional response—and therefore are prompted to action—when we believe we might lose something compared to when we think we might benefit.
It’s an interesting fact: Most of us don’t entertain ourselves by going to dream houses to be instantly inspired by possibilities or a vision of the future. Doing so is work, so we save that for another time.
This might be why so many teams have tricks played on them and underperform: The team members can vividly see what will happen to them if the team or company fails (Examples include: “I’ll lose my job” or “I won’t get a bonus and then my spouse won’t enjoy the holidays.”) Minimalist thinking—and therefore small results—follow.
Consistently, we see the exceptional team focus on the treat: Team members are aware of what will happen if they fail, but the more compelling and consistent focus is on the vision of what will happen to them when they succeed. This focus, of course, changes everything, from the elevated effort everyone gives to the results they produce.
It’s trick-or-treat time, and worth asking the team: What’s our team’s primary motivator: Fear or success? (Is coming to work like entering a haunted house? Or a space with an incredible vision?)
Only one requires you to pretend you’re someone you’re not.
(Shout out – thanks D.J.)