Motivating a Donkey

There’s two styles of motivation; nice and not so nice.

The nice is positive reinforcement, where you give/get a carrot when you do something you’re meant to.  The opposite is the stick, where you get a not so nice tap when you don’t.

Depending on the person and the situation both can be effective.  I’ve used both not just when trying to motivate others, but also when trying to motivate myself.

Problems happen however, when the carrot and stick get out of balance.  Too much carrot can turn into cake, and too much stick turns into a spiked bat.  Both of those end up having an opposite motivational effect.

I think we all have a bias to one way or another, especially when it comes to self motivation.   I’ve always tried to set my personal bar high, and my style definitely tends towards the stick.  The other day someone (helpfully) pointed out that maybe I had been using too much stick trying to motivate myself.  My tendency to stick myself (huh?) was starting to have the opposite effect.

Just make sure you’re in touch with the Donkey.  If it’s had so much cake that it’s diabetic, or has been hit so many times with the spiked bat that it’s scarred forever, it’s probably time to check your carrot/stick balance.