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I came across an article recently on LinkedIn by A.J. Jacobs, editor of Esquire magazine, in which he discussed using self-delusion as a tool to becoming more productive. He’s a published author as well and he discussed how some days he would have feelings of despair that a “project was too big, too unwieldy.” His solution was self-deception. It’s not a new idea but one that some of us use regularly perhaps without even realizing it.
Jacobs said that, on those days when he felt like was couldn’t get started or was overwhelmed; he would “force [himself] to act in an optimistic way”. He’d sit down and just start typing. By forcing himself to think this way, he found that eventually “his mind would catch up [and that he’d] start to feel optimistic.”
He included a great quote in his article from the founder of Habitat for Humanity, Millard Fuller:
“It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.”
How true is that? How many times in your professional (or personal) lives have you had a bad day? Or had something happen in your life that affected your personal attitude, but you had to force yourself to smile? If you’re in a leadership position, you know that a best practice is to leave your personal lives at the door. You always have to put on a smile for that customer, be nice to your peers or subordinates, or even to your spouse.
Now let’s change course and talk about how you manage your employees. Do you greet them every morning? Do you say “Hello” and that you’re glad they are there on that day? For some people, recognition and a simple acknowledgement of their existence is a powerful motivator. For some, it’s even more powerful than money.
According to American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, known for “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,” money is a motivator but on a much lower level in the hierarchy and that motivation is short-lived. He theorizes, “praise, respect, recognition, empowerment and a sense of belonging are far more powerful motivators than money.”
While this is certainly something that you, as a leader in your company, can do to help motivate your staff; it has the great side effect of making them feel better, be more productive and produce higher quality work. However, since you are the leader, who is supposed to do that for you?
All of the things that you do to motivate your employees, you need to make sure you are doing for yourself. As Jacobs points out, this idea has been around for ages and has “spawned rhymes” such as “Fake it till you make it” amongst others. You’ve heard them, I’m sure.
Keeping your employees happy is certainly an important part of being a leader but don’t forget your own motivators. Way too often in the car business, we use money as a motivator and, while everyone likes money, sometimes a “Good job!” is a much better investment than that $20 spiff.
Your attitude affects not only you but also everyone in your life. Next time a bad day hits you square in the face, challenge yourself to be delusional.