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Fool-Proof Motivation

There’s science behind feeling good about work.

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If you think people do good work based on how much money you give them, you’re in for a surprise. But if you think making the office a place of butterflies, joy and rainbows will do the trick, you’re in for another surprise.

Experiments by Dan Ariely, behavioural economist, show that humans get up to all kinds of strange behaviour and that there are other things that motivate us to work; you just have to know how to work them. Check out these experiments.

Lego fruits of labour

Ariely gave experiment participants a pile of Lego and an instruction guide to build a robot. He’d pay them \$3 for the task. The completed robot was then hidden under a table, and they were asked to build the same robot again for \$2,70. This repeat assemble/price reduction continued until some reached the ‘meaningful condition’: “No more. It’s not worth it for me.”

For the next group, the cyclical task was made more demotivating: The Lego robot was built with the same cash rewards offered but, instead of hiding it away, the experimenters disassembled the robot in front of the participant.

The result? Hidden robot participants repeated the cycle 11 times, while disassembled robot participants only completed seven. And it’s not because some participants love Lego and therefore get more joy out of the activity than others. The act of breaking the Lego took the meaning out of the activity.

Switching Lego for paper-pushing

In a revised experiment, Ariely asked participants to find matching pairs of letters on a sheet of paper. The price was 30c per sheet, and it reduced with each repetition of the cycle. But this time there were three conditions.

Group one wrote their name, completed the task and showed it to the experimenter who scanned the page, said “uh huh” and put it in a pile next to them. Group two didn’t write their name, gave it to the experimenter who simply put it to one side. For the third group, the experimenter was handed the paper and put it straight into a shredder.

Related: Fool Yourself Into Becoming a Morning Person

So what, it’s Lego and paper. What happens in business when you have to cancel mergers or presentations that staff have been working their butts off for? Ariely consulted a big software company in Seattle where 200 engineers had just been unapologetically told by the CEO that their big project was cancelled.

They’d effectively been through the same experiment, except now they started arriving at work later, leaving earlier, and had started abusing company expenses. While projects can fail, acknowledging effort is critical to keeping staff motivated.

Stats don’t lie

The graph shows that when the work was acknowledged, people worked all the way down to 15c for their efforts. Interestingly, the shredded group gave up very quickly, even though no one was checking and they could get paid for doing very little.

Then the ignored group. Turns out ignoring effort is very similar to shredding. The good news is that just by looking at something, scanning and saying “uh huh” was enough to dramatically improve motivation.

Related: We Give You the Secret To Your Productivity

Ponder this: Big thinkers square up

If experiments aren’t enough to convince you that acknowledging effort is paramount to motivating staff, take notes from a big thinker showdown: Moral philosopher Adam Smith versus father of socialism Karl Marx.

Using the example of a pin factory, and a pin taking 12 steps for completion, Smith suggested the following about efficiency. If one person completed all 12 steps, production would be low but if 12 people completed one step each, productivity would increase – it’s the foundation of the Industrial Revolution. Marx on the other hand was against alienation of labour, believing a connection to your work made you care about it more.

While Smith was correct and relevant for the Industrial Revolution, in today’s knowledge-based economy where people have to decide for themselves how much effort, attention, caring and connection to the work they feel, Marx now has a lot more things to say.

Karl Marx

In short

Payment and motivation are not the same thing. Having meaning, creativity, challenges, ownership, identity and pride connected to the task at hand is as important as money. As a business leader, if you add these components to management and integrate them into business culture, employees won’t only be happier, they’ll be more productive.

Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.

3 Wonderfully Uncommon Reasons To Form Better Habits

As we race away into 2018, consider these very personal and fundamental bonuses to making and sticking to your resolutions.

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Eat healthier. Exercise more. Be more productive. Read faster. Be friendlier. Sleep better.

Welcome to the New Year, a time when people set resolutions to form better habits and lead better lives.

Understandably, a lot of the articles, videos and other resources about starting off the New Year focus on which habits are best and the steps you need to take to achieve them. They outline the goals, plans and actions we need to make our resolutions a reality.

Why is it that you sneak sweets and junk food so often? How come you’re always so tired in the morning? Why can’t you get your butt to the gym?

Related: 7 Motivational Habits That Drive Millionaires

If your answer for poor habits is “That’s just the way I am/the way things are” then you’re probably underestimating yourself. Stop. Think about your actions and why you’ve taken them perpetually over time. You might learn a lot.

Take personal finance advisor and entrepreneur Ramit Sethi for example. When he stopped to analyse himself and why he wasn’t going to the gym, he realised something simple that he’d never considered previously: His closet was in a different room, separate from his bedroom. Instead of getting up in the cold to put on clothes, it was easier to just stay in bed.

“Once I realised this, I folded my clothes and shoes the night before. When I woke up the next morning, I would roll over and see my gym clothes sitting on the floor. The result? My gym attendance soared by over 300%.”

Forming a new habit is your chance to examine your life — or at least one important aspect of it — and figure out why you’ve been making the decisions that lead to the habits you want or need to change.

2. Taking control

We don’t have to be the sum of randomised actions and results, based simply on moral and civil codes. It’s up to each one of us individually to take control of our actions and maximise the results.

It’s the same in business. There’s nothing you do without careful research and consideration in order to maximise productivity, profits, etc.

You’re your own boss. You control your thoughts and actions; these things aren’t up to chance. Having the ability to make significant changes to your life is empowering, so long as you seize the opportunity.

Take control. Be the entrepreneur of yourself, 100 percent.

Related: 7 Bad Workplace Habits Millennials Need To Stop Making

3. Achieving clearer self-awareness

Some people say it takes only 21 days to form a new habit. Others say that just isn’t true. However long it takes, habit formation is a personal journey; one that requires desire, motivation, dedication, perseverance and change.

Habit formation takes you out of your comfort zone, to a place of self-discovery. If you’re getting into shape, how far can you push yourself physically? If you’re trying to eat better, how much temptation can you withstand?

Figure out what was required to succeed or why it was that you failed. Either way, you can obtain a clearer sense of your personal limits and, hopefully, how to achieve your goals — and sustain them — within your constraints.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” Not only to the world, but to yourself as well.

How To Build A Disruptive Attitude

What does it mean to navigate a disruptive world and succeed in a market – place that is changing faster than it’s ever changed before?

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What do you need to know to be a success? What resources and support do you need? How do you need to feel and think to be a success in a disrupted world?

According to Malcolm Gladwell, who spoke at the 2017 BCX Disrupt Summit, you need three key things to succeed in a disrupted world: Resources, knowledge and the right attitude.

The First step towards innovation and disruption is your mind. Your attitude.

For Gladwell, Malcolm McLean is the single biggest disruptor of the 20th century, in that he implemented containerised shipping. Without this fundamental shift in the way we ship cargo, the modern, connected world as we know it today would not exist.

Crucially, McLean did not invent containerised shipping, but no one had been able to make it work before a trucker from Ohio came along, and got irritated by how long he had to wait at the docks to offload his cargo (roughly 24 hours).

Related: How to Build Your Network Like a Super Connector

But McLean had an idea and he presented it at a conference of maritime shippers in Amsterdam. They laughed him off the stage. Normally, when we are treated with this type of derision, we get discouraged and give up. McLean didn’t do that. He possessed a fundamental trait that all entrepreneurs need: He didn’t require the approval of others to do what he believed was right. Entrepreneurs are open, creative, and see solutions to problems that others don’t; they are also — crucially — highly conscientious, which means they follow through on an idea in a detailed, disciplined way.

This is rare. You get creative people, and conscientious people, but it’s not easy to find both traits in the same person. Add to that the third trait of disagreeableness, in that they do not have to follow established norms, and you have a real game-changer.

McLean didn’t look at the problem as a shipper did. He came from an entirely new angle, and not only found a way to make containerised shipping possible, but affordable too.

Ikea is a similar example. In a nutshell, Ikea is furniture shipped flat from Poland. Ingvar Kamprad pursued outsourcing on an aggressive level, had an extraordinary amount of creativity in solving problems, and was very conscientious. Consider how difficult it would have been to build a world-class manufacturing plant in Poland in 1961. The country was a post-WW2 mess, in the grip of Soviet Russia, known for shoddy workmanship and actively hostile to free enterprise.

And then Kamprad waltzed in from Sweden and pulled off the impossible because of his single-minded grit and attention to detail. He is the epitome of conscientiousness and obsessiveness.

Now consider Steve Jobs.

By the 1970s, Xerox was the most important tech company in the world. They were the richest, most innovative and profitable company, and they invested in a state-of-the-art R&D centre and filled it with 100 of the most brilliant computer scientists from around the world, and told them to be brilliant.

And they were. As per Xerox’s request, they reinvented the office. They invented the laser printer, the world’s first word processing programme, interfaces — and the list continues.

And then a 23-year-old Steve Jobs visited the centre. At that stage, his company was making traditional kit computers out of a garage. He was blown away by what he saw at Xerox Park and all the incredible things they were doing — particularly when he was shown the mouse and interface the Xerox team had developed for personal computers. He immediately saw how icons and a mouse changed everything. This was the future of computing.

Related: 10 Innovators On What They Learned From Steve Jobs

Here’s why Apple is the world’s biggest tech company four decades later, and Xerox is not: While the Xerox team understood they had changed computing forever, there was no urgency to be the first to market.

Jobs left that day, immediately told his team to stop what they were doing, because it would soon be obsolete anyway, and started working on a new product based on what Xerox had developed.

His team told him he was nuts — they’d spent millions on what they were doing. Jobs said it didn’t matter. It was obsolete. He didn’t have more resources. He didn’t have smarter guys. He didn’t even have a wiser and better vision.

But he was in a hurry. And he was able to execute on his vision.

If you can get your mindset right, you can gather the resources and knowledge that you need to be successful. Learn as much as you can. Be open to new ideas. And if something is soon going to be obsolete, walk away. Find the next big thing. Because you’re either being disrupted, or you’re the disruptor. Which would you like to be?

Time Is The Ultimate Success, Not Money

Don’t use your time to make more money, use your money to make more time.

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Why do we work so much? I know the answer is “money,” but why? Yes, we need to cover our cost of living – your true basics like food, clothes and shelter. But after that, what are we working for?

The short answer is luxury. We want to get our hands on some luxury.

For some, that’s cars, watches, boats and all of the other flashy things we see scrolling through Instagram. For others, it’s art or travel. Everyone has their own definition of luxury.

But that shouldn’t be the reason for our lifetime of toil. It should be for time. You see, time is the true measure of success – the real currency of an entrepreneur.

We work our lives away to buy objects of luxury instead of enjoying the luxury of our time on earth. We should be yearning for free time to do what we wantnot what we must. We should want time to do the things we like, not the things we dislike. Forget the desk job. Forget cleaning the house. Forget mowing the lawn or cooking dinner. If you don’t like it, the luxury of having extra money should eliminate it from your life.

This isn’t a rant promoting unadulterated laziness. I’m a firm believer in work, especially deep work in your creative pursuits and hard labour in your physical pursuits. I’m also a firm believer in not doing what you hate.

Related: 7 Rules To Master Your Start-Up Success This Year

For my own creative enjoyment, I enjoy writing – both words and code. That’s my deep work, and no matter how much money I have, I’ll never outsource that. In the physical world, I enjoy lifting weights, fighting and doing yard work. Those are things that I won’t be cutting down anytime soon. Since I enjoy those things, my time isn’t better spent eliminating them from my life. But certain aspects of them can certainly go.

I love weight training, but I hate planning my workouts. It takes me too long to figure it all out. Thankfully, that’s a problem that money solved in my life. I have an amazing trainer who sets it all up for me, giving me my time back. I love writing, but I hate publishing my work. Thankfully, you can hire a content manager (or team) to handle that. Prime examples of money buying my ultimate luxury – time. Time that can be better spent doing things that either make me more money, which I can use to unlock more free time, or that I enjoy, like reading or hanging out on a beach with my family.

Maybe I want to tighten up my Jiu Jitsu game. Maybe I want to create a cool bonsai tree. Maybe I want to learn to play chess or learn a some new tech that could advance me in the professional world. Maybe I just want to sit on my ass and read or play a video game or watch some mindless tv for an hour every now and again. These are things that we work for.

Freedom versus the slavery of materialism

Only after you’ve unlocked your free time is it even worth pursuing the material. Fancy cars aren’t my style, so why would I waste money that could be used unlocking my freedom, on a cool car? Unless you truly enjoy driving cars (which I do,) washing cars (which I don’t,) fixing cars (meh) and everything else that comes along with it, you’re spending your time to make money to buy something you don’t truly love. That’s backwards.

Related: 3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Love to travel, but only get one week long vacation a year? Go somewhere for a month or two. When you’re not working a full-time job, you’ll have the time to explore new ways of making a living if you want more months like that.

Do you really love exotic cars and want a Ferrari, but you’re just settling on the Mercedes? Take that money, buy some more time, and spend it building a business that makes you the money instead of your boss. Instead of that Benz, put that money into buying more time. That’s now what defines you as successful.