What Motivates You? What are You Committed to?
When I ask that question I get a variety of replies such as, my family, doing the right thing and world peace. For the commitment part I hear answers such as prosperity, health, to give to others, gratitude.
This may be the illusion that people are operating under but let me restate that it is an illusion, a lie. If you want to know what someone is committed to all you have to do is look at what they have.
If a person is miserable then they are committed to misery. If a person is in a struggling relationship then they are committed to being in a struggling relationship.
If a person lives in clutter and chaos then that’s what they are committed to. All the rest is a lie!
I’m having this conversation with you without judgment. This is not good or bad, it just is. It’s all about genetic coding and pattern recognition. We are genetically coded to recognize what can hurt us and to avoid. We are coded to save time in our response by recognizing patterns and responding well before we are conscious of the threat.
Our five plus million year’s evolution has us coded for survival, not prosperity. Any trait that favors survival, thus the passing of our genes is copied and passed on.
Consider these numbers. It has been estimated that we have 100 billion brain cells, each capable of tens of thousands of interactions with other neurons. We are bombarded with 100 billion bits of information per second. Of this we pay attention to only 2000 bits of which seven can make it into our short term memory and we can take action on only one input at a time.
Humans have a very limited perceptual capacity. We can see only certain wavelengths of light whereas other species can see frequencies that are beyond our abilities. Same with sound, hearing and all of our senses. Since we have such a limited capacity evolution has taken our small bandwidth of perceptual ability and dedicated it to seeing danger. We are predisposed to be negative and see what can hurt us, not opportunities.
I can put what motivates all of us into one phrase;
All human performance is the avoidance of pain or the seeking of comfort.
This is what dictates what makes it into our bandwidth of awareness. We are coded to see danger. Our brain is designed to recognize the highest level of perceived pain and then compel us to avoid.
So what does this mean to you on a daily basis?
It means that you will have a difficult time having your actions match your intentions. I’ll assume that you have a business plan for next year. You have your goals, objectives, and activities that you need to accomplish to reach those goals.
Now you plan for the next seven days. Before you can take an action your brain searches like a computer for any link of those actions to pain. When you find the link to pain, and you will, your brain compels you to avoid and then you justify the avoidance with rationalization and you never know that you are doing this. You think that the truth is you were just too busy!
Do dogs love bones?
No, they love MEAT but they settle for bones. We are all avoidance machines. We avoid making prospecting calls, calling on potential high net worth house holds, developing strategic alliances with attorneys and other financial experts all in the name of being too busy.
The reality is that we are settling for mediocrity because of human nature’s limitations. Make not mistake about it, we are all driven to avoid pain and seek comfort.
You can not fight this human genetic coding. All you can do is surrender to it and use it to your advantage. Here’s how.
Identify one activity that you give your word that you will do by the end of the week. This should be an activity that you are capable of doing. It must be realistic. It should also be an activity that you most likely would resist tacking action on and would not do without some special treatment.
Now let’s leverage human nature. Since we know that our genetic coding is to recognize the highest level of perceived pain and avoid it, let’s leverage this by placing a higher pain on the activity.
For example, imagine that your commitment is to call a wealthy individual who is on the board of the city hospital foundation along with you. This person knows who you are, what you do yet is not a client.
Your brain searches this activity and links it to being very dangerous. That’s right; being rejected or embarrassed is viewed as dangerous. You are therefore compelled to avoid this dangerous activity and then you justify with rationalization.
This is the way that it should be unless there is an intervention.
Let’s change your approach. Send someone an email that you will call this person by the end of the week and if you don’t you will pay them $100. Send it to me; I’ll hold you accountable for $100! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Now your brain acts in this manner. The outer cortex is the executive thinking area and it contemplates making the call to this person. Immediately there is a connection to the hypothalamus (memory of past experiences) where you search for any past experiences of prospecting and danger. You find an example of great rejection and there is a shot of excitement in the limbic area of the brain referred to as the limbic system or more specifically a structure called the amygdale. This is the emotional area of the brain and it creates this tremendous non-conscious command to avoid. This is called a cortical limbic loop.
After you place a $100 consequence on this action, you will have a different cortical limbic loop. You will still be avoiding the highest level of perceived pain but this time the avoidance will be the avoidance of the fine by taking the action and you make the call.
Guess what, it was easy. The prospect tells you he is glad that you called.
Try this. It is called Behavioral Contracting. It works almost 100% of the time. Avoid your way to the top. Remember, I’m only an email away.