How To Motivate People?
I just watched a TED video about this subject. The details the speaker gave were quite similar to my attitude change in the past. Let me tell you more about this.
The Smart Kid
I was always a smart kid. I was always in the first three smartest in my classroom and in most cases, in my school and sometimes in my city too. Deduction came to me naturally. Now, you can say, “Stop Sherlock, calm down!”. You’re totally right. I need to calm down. And I did calm down. How? Here is what happened.
As I said, I was doing very well at school. Especially in high school. When we came to the last year of our school, I realised that everybody including me was working hard for the upcoming national university admission exam. One of the key strategies was to have mock exams on a regular basis. I remember taking 3 mock exams on one day, which drained my energy so much, I thought my whole life energy was gone. Each exam takes 3 hours straight and you cannot go out before you’re done with your exam. While the majority of my classmates from school and some from the course I was attending were having regular mock tests, some of my classmates were not taking them at all. They told me that they had only one chance to master the exam and they did not want to use that single chance for the mock tests. I constantly warned them that what they were doing would not work and they would not get a good score on the actual exam. This warning did no good because they did not like what I was saying. And they didn’t listen to me. I was using fear to motivate them to do the right thing. In the end, they only took the official exam and as far as I know, none got any placement in any university around Turkey.
Later In Life
In the coming years, I kept a similar approach towards my smoker friends, my brother and mother included. I warned them that it was a bad habit and even told them that with the smoke from their cigarettes, they were poisoning themselves by 30% and the rest of the people by 70%. And that poisoning people and even the birds flying in the air was a bad thing. I used guilt to motivate people. It also did no good and I was unable to help anybody.
A lot of people tell me stuff. They like to tell me. However, in time I realised that the number of people telling me what they wanted to do decreased. I was the smart one and I could say what was wrong with their thinking and their strategies. But the truth was that nobody wanted to listen to what they were doing wrong. Negative thinking and talking do not attract attention. Even once, my brother told me that he would not tell me anything he wanted to do anymore, since I was always discouraging him from his endeavour.
This talk changed my attitude 180 degrees. I thought about it long and hard and decided to take a different path, a more positive path: Instead of telling people that their path would not work, I started telling them how it would work. Besides, thinking that I knew everything also stopped me from growing and learning.
I told you, I was smart. I am smart. At least I am told that I was smart. In other words, I know or rather I can find ways to make it work. Something engineering helped me learn and improve. I can think analytically and find the strengths and weaknesses of their strategies. Especially with some younger people or kids, when they told me what they wanted to do, I started saying that they should do it. Even though I thought otherwise. I may foresee that it would not work but I am also just a human being with limited intelligence and limited knowledge. I would be wrong. Sometimes the result was good, sometimes not so good. Instead of an arrogant and know-it-all attitude, I started to take a different path and started to learn more, since I did not know it all. The simple truth. In the end, it was not about knowledge or intelligence. It’s about motivating people to do what they want to do, what they want to achieve in this life.
My new approach helped me quite a lot. More importantly, I became a more positive person during this process and learnt a lot!
When you are in a dilemma and want to tell about it a friend, choose that friend wisely. Share it with someone who will help you overcome that dilemma, that problem. Not to someone, even though the person may be the closest person to you on this earth, who will discourage you and will make you feel not enough, not worthy. Share your passion and your dream with one with a can-do attitude rather than a cannot-do type.
If your friend consults you about something, rather than saying that your friend cannot do it or that it’s too hard or that it is impossible or anything negative, just say yes. Yes, they can do it. Even though they may not be able to do it, you telling them that they can empower them and, who knows, they may very well do it just to amaze you. I do not mean this for reckless and extremely stupid things. I mean to act on the things that empower them to do better, to achieve more and be more.
Who knows? The results may truly amaze you and you can be proud of the outcome!