In the book Human Motivation, Harvard psychology professor David McClelland points to three things that drive everyone.
Achievement, the desire to compete against increasingly challenging goals.
Affiliation, the desire to be liked and loved.
And power, the desire for influence and respect for oneself, and to empower others, to offer them influence and respect.
My research reveals three additional ones.
Aesthetics, the desire for sensory pleasure and stimulation.
Control, a sense of being in the driver's seat.
And identity, advancement of our personal narrative and values.
So ask yourself, What are we doing to motivate people, to feed their hungers and desires?
Are we helping them achieve?
Are we feeding their hungers to be recognized, to be liked and loved?
Are we connecting them with like-minded people and empowering them to empower others?
Are we providing a beautiful, pleasurable, and engaging experience?
Are we providing a sense of control, full knowledge and participation?
Are we helping them feel good about themselves and their decisions in our presence?
Do we believe passionately in these pursuits?
Now, list precisely how you are uniquely going about it.
There's your brand strategy.
As it so happens, it's your leadership strategy as well.
Why is change so difficult for organizations?
Because of a generally accepted myth.
The one that imagines that businesses are made.
By acquiring, arranging and rearranging parts.
People, teams, departments, managers.
Leaders think of themselves as technicians and architects.
Strategists who develop a plan and fashion the business in accordance with that plan.
Artists who impose their will on the "material" and bring the creation to life.
But businesses are not put together or molded.
You don't work on them from the outside in, like a potter works with clay.
They expand, they blossom.
Like a cell in the womb, they progressively complicate themselves.
Businesses are living organisms that grow from the inside out.
And, like the human body, they resist foreign bodies.
Even if those objects or elements are beneficial.
People hate the idea of corporate politics.
But it's a critically important leadership activity.
It's like a powerful immunosuppressant.
It gets ideas safely into the organism.
And gives them a chance to take hold and grow.
Because virtually every decision of any importance will meet with resistance.
It's how leaders deal with that reality that determines the future of the organization.
And that's called politics.
The opposite of dark is light.
Light makes dark less of what it is.
The opposite of hot is cold.
Adding one to the other diminishes both.
So what's the opposite of success?
The word that probably comes to mind is failure.
But that can't be.
Because failure fosters success.
It produces learning, insights and resilience.
Success and failure are two sides of the same coin.
It's like exercise and rest.
Rest isn't the opposite of exercise.
Rest is what nurtures exercise.
It strengthens the body, prepares it for more.
Exercise and rest (and food) are two sides of the same coin.
The fitness coin.
Exercise isn't the outcome, fitness is.
Improved energy, strength and appearance.
Similarly, success isn't an outcome.
It's simply one side of a coin.
The coin called living.
Living the life you are meant to live.
And the results are, curiously, the same as fitness.
Energy, strength and appearance.
Energy in body, mind and spirit.
Strength of will and character.
And appearance, especially to those who matter most.
But not a superficial, invented appearance.
An inspiring, meaningful one.
One built on belief, sacrifice and hard work.
One for your children, and your children's children, to learn from and emulate.
So then, what is the opposite of success?
Just like with exercise, the opposite of success is indolence.
Apathy, idleness, a spiritless life of doubt and regret.
Failure is exercise.
Success is rest.
And a passionate life is a soulful mixture.
I've heard a lot of speakers implore audiences to pay no mind to the lessons of Apple.
"There's only one Apple," they spout. "The company is an outlier. You can't be like them, so it's best to ignore them."
I implore you to ignore those speakers.
Apple is the exemplar in today's rapidly evolving marketplace.
A marketplace deaf to me-too brands and listless, promotional appeals.
There is nothing inherently sexy about computers and cell phones.
In fact, there are no innately "high interest" or "low interest" categories.
It's the performance of the brand, the unique bundle of value, that makes it emotionally relevant and meaningful . . . or not.
Steve Jobs viscerally understood the marketplace.
It was his exhilaration with uncertainty and insistence on creativity and attention to detail, which turned Apple into the world’s most valuable company.
How about sneakers and coffee?
Thirty years ago they were uninspiring commodities.
Body wash and energy drinks didn't exist.
Computers were business machines.
Certainly not subject matter candidates for best-selling business books.
I am so tired of hearing the "we're not sexy" argument that organizations use to remain comfortable and mediocre.
Anything can be made cool and culturally relevant.
It's not what you have to work with.
It's whether or not you have the will to do the work.
I remember watching a gem of a movie about a guy in a box.
The entire movie was filmed "inside a box."
One on-screen actor . . . in a freakin' box . . . for 95 minutes!
Is your product or service, your brand, more constrained than that?
What's choking the life and passion out of your brand, and your people, is your constrained, "low interest" thinking.
Get out of your box!
Get into your box!
But for the sake of your people, your business, and your sanity, get out of your rut and back into a groove.
Take some of that cash you're sitting on and create something unique, inspiring, and meaningful.
Try something new.
Stand for something original and special.
Creativity is the acid-test for strategy in today's marketplace.
Reimagine your business.
Knock down the doors of convention.
And knock hard.
Because the marketplace is deaf.
I swung by the pharmacy to fill a prescription.
A simple, routine experience.
But this time around it made me think.
And that's not a good thing, at least not for them.
Here's what happened.
The price of my meds increased almost five-fold.
And that shock woke me up from my happy trance.
From my preconceived notions, my beliefs.
So now I'm thinking.
But not about the price or the retail outlet.
I'm now considering my pill-popping regimen.
We are of three minds.
An intuitive, “feeling” mind.
The one that's looking for trouble and stimulation, and which directs our attention.
An analytical, “thinking” mind.
The deliberate and skeptical one that takes that attention and tries to evaluate our circumstances and choices.
And a "believing" mind.
A strange and powerful mixture of both feeling and thinking.
The one that ultimately makes our decisions and keeps us on autopilot.
My believing mind is now spinning out of control.
Because someone startled my feeling mind.
And set my thinking mind on a journey.
One of research, discovery and, inevitably, rationalization.
Because the decision, like most, is not black and white.
There are strong opinions on each side of the debate.
Just like for all choices in our age of abundance.
So what will I decide to do?
I'm still not sure.
But I kind of wish they had let my sleeping belief lie.
Friday, January 12, 2007, 7:51 am.
The start of a Washington Post social experiment in “context, perception and priorities.”
And of Joshua Bell’s 43-minute nightmare.
For the experiment, Bell, one of the world’s greatest violinists, donned a cap and plain clothing.
And busked for change as an incognito street entertainer in a D.C. Metro subway station.
1,000-odd rush hour commuters passed by.
But only seven stopped to listen to Bell.
He collected a paltry $32.17 from 27 people, excluding $20 from the one person who recognized him.
Despite being an internationally acclaimed virtuoso, Bell’s subway audience was blind to his performance.
It was simply background music to them.
There’s your modern day marketplace parable.
Preoccupied, stressed out people.
An exceptional, refined idea.
And, in affect and effect, nothing. Nada.
A brilliant idea, even if placed directly in people’s paths, is simply not enough to engage them today.
Please don’t delude yourself into believing that it is.
The results will break your heart and your spirit.
Instead, realize that perception, context and priorities (a.k.a. "branding") matter.
The marketplace is an impassioned dance.
It's a moving and evolving exchange of value.
Yes, Bell had his moves perfected.
His core competencies were second to none.
But he didn't appeal to the unique circumstances and desires of his dance partners.
He didn't bring his idea to life in a clear, meaningful and differentiated way.
And the results confirmed the Post's dispassionate approach.
A self-fulfilling prophecy if I've ever seen one.
"Ladies and gentlemen . . . the Beatles!"
50 years ago this month, 4 Liverpudlians rocked a nation.
Their shocking performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" was seen by one in three Americans.
And that novel picture transformed countless lives.
It inspired young Robert Cray to buy his first guitar.
It showed Billy Joel that he could make a living doing what he loved.
"Now my path is clear."
It gave Stevie Van Zandt "hope for my life."
David Crosby and the Byrds "went out and got the same guitars."
Such is the power of a vision, a picture of possibility.
It animates desire.
It lights up the present with a story of a better future.
It incites belief.
And belief, in our story, is what moves us.
It ignites the spark that fuels our actions.
And so a trash talking teenager from Louisville, Kentucky becomes what he believes.
"The Greatest" boxer of all-time.
An Austrian kid with a thick accent and impossible name creates a story of fame and fortune.
And becomes a bodybuilding champion, action film icon, and Governor of California.
A gangly, freckle-faced nerd imagines himself an entrepreneur and drops out of Harvard.
And eventually turns into the richest person in the world.
Sure, fortunate circumstances come into play.
But belief is what puts us in those places and at those times.
Belief is what compels Lady Luck to rub up against us.
And allows the world to witness the dance.
So picture yourself.
Don’t be a nowhere man, a fool on a hill.
Think for yourself.
Opportunities are here, there, and everywhere.
Eight days a week.
And belief is your ticket to ride.