If you want to reduce someone’s desire to succeed or to excel, there are a number of strategies that work incredibly well.
Strategy #1 – Praise someone up one side and down the other. Tell him he’s great. Tell him he’s awesome. Tell him he’s smart. Tell him he’s talented – or gifted – or blessed.
Instead of focusing on work or work ethic – the real crux of the matter – focus on self – or what we call self-esteem, and watch the person you’re coddling get worse.
Strategy #2 – Criticize someone for the very same qualities that others are praised for. Tell the person he’s stupid. Tell him he’s worthless, weak, no good and useless.
This is the flip side of the praise coin. Neither works because, once again, the focus is not on effort or work ethic. Instead, it’s on amorphous qualities that you cannot quantify or mentally picture.
Strategy #3 – Give no rewards in any way, shape or form to those who achieve more than others. Don’t let anyone stand out or look better than the rest. And punish him if he does.
Strategy #4 – Guarantee someone a large sum of money for a long period of time, for future performance, based upon his past performance.
Examples of Strategy #4 not working abound in Major League Baseball as well as all professional sports.
Case in point: A-Rod, also known as Alex Rodriguez. The one-time slugger for the New York Yankees. Five years ago the Yankees inked this man to a 10-year $275 MM contract. Right now they realize they have five years left on the deal – for a staggering sum of $112 MM.
Now, if the guy hustled down the first-base line, showed a lot more effort at the plate and didn’t get injured so often, that would be one thing. But when
you know you’re getting paid $29 MM for six months of work per year – regardless of how well you do, what’s the incentive.
In Sadaharu Oh’s book, A Zen Way of Baseball, he wrote that he was against long-term contracts because they kill a player’s desire to do well.
Fact is, over and over again, we see players who will finally be eligible for free agency, And they put up record numbers straight across the board. Then a team foolishly signs them to a seven or ten-year deal for well over nine figures – and the player goes straight down the tubes.
This happens so often you’d think teams would wise up, but they don’t.
Years ago I listened to football great, Y.A. Tittle, at a book signing. When asked about all the high-priced players, Tittle said that if owners only knew that most of the athletes would play for a lot less, they’d stop giving out these ridiculous sums of dough.
Now, I’m totally in favor of an athlete making as much as he can. What I’m not in favor of is ruining a player’s career with a MEGA multi-year salary guarantee. You either produce, or you’re fired. You produce, or you take a pay cut. You produce, or you take a seat on the bench.
And if the above doesn’t light a fire under your bottom, then the team can help the player ease himself into retirement.
That’s the way to incentivize someone in my book.
P.S. For a riveting confirmation of the above, be sure to read my best-seller, Expect to Win – Hate to Lose.