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Using Opportunity, not Fear To Motivate

Everyone has been scared into doing something. Fear is a great motivator. It makes you move, and it makes you move fast in any direction —  as long as it is away from the things that scared you. 

Opportunity is a more effective motivator, simply because it allows you to guide towards, rather than away. It trumps fear every time. When you see a chance for success, you move towards it through fears and other challenges.

Opportunities are the visions of success you share with your team. Fears are the visions of failure. Sometimes, it takes some work to understand which one you're using.

Relax and Take Your Best Shot

On a personal level, you can tell the difference between the two motivators if you think about it in terms of your drive. You can't be afraid you'll miss. That's a sure way to stiffen up and add strokes to your score — if you even manage to connect.

The truth is that missing isn't the issue. When you're motivated by fear, you end up losing the control you're trying to gain.

The only way to make the most out of every swing is to see the opportunity, line up your stroke, relax and take your best shot. As you practice, the results of your shots will start getting closer to your ideal outcome.

It's the same when you're leading a group. Your ability to guide people towards the opportunities they want is directly related to your own development as a leader. Step-by-step, day-by-day, you'll have chances to show people what they can do — to get them to relax and use their skills to pursue the best possible outcome.

Share Your Vision and Guide Your Team

People who identify as hands-on leaders are often the ones who don't know they're leading with fear. That is especially true for leaders who are focused on how their team does things. If you want to show people an opportunity, communicate your vision, establish a company culture and guide your team towards smooth operation in that context.

Know the Difference Between Motivation Types

Overall, the most important thing to remember is opportunity is a better motivator than fear. Opportunity draws people towards an idea of success you can define with your company vision. It can be the cornerstone of a culture, letting everyone know how they should accomplish things you need them to do.

If you feel like you're always working hard to organize people, keep them on task and communicate with your team, you might be prodding with fear instead of leading with opportunity. You might need to do some careful observation of your own leadership practices to understand exactly what you need to change.

LeadershipPhil Gafka