Carrot??? Or Stick???"

January 7, 2016

One of the things I often find myself discussing with clients is the concept of carrot and sticks, the idea that people broadly fall into 1 of 2 different categories; Carrot people and Stick people.

 

"Carrot people" are inspired to take action because they are motivated to move towards something pleasurable.

 

"Stick people" are inspired to take action because they are motivated to move away from something painful or unpleasant.

 

There are many areas of life where knowing which of these camps you're more likely to fall into can really help in knowing how to best move yourself towards your goals. Personally I'm a stick person, whilst I love to goal set and plan ahead, that alone won't be enough to motivate me to take action towards something. Whilst the first step is important (the goal setting's the fun bit!) I also need to build in another layer, I need to create some discomfort/pain to make myself commit to moving forwards towards that goal - whilst the "carrot" great, I also need a "stick" to move away from. For example I love to travel, it's something that has always been very important to me, but during the first few years of running the business cashflow was often tight and I simply wasn't managing to save any of my income for a holiday, even though I knew it was something I really wanted and that was important to me. Eventually I'd get frustrated that I'd not been anywhere and I'd book a flight on a credit card. Low and behold somehow I'd always manage to find the money to pay off the credit card and to fund the trip whilst I was there. The Carrot alone (knowing I wanted to travel somewhere new) wasn't enough for me, I needed to make a commitment and create a stick (the credit card payments - 0% of course!) and I'd have no problem making myself find the money. 

NB: I am ABSOLUTELY NOT suggesting any of you rushes out to buy flights/lots of other nice things on a credit card in the hope it'll motivate you to pay it off! I use this as an example from my own personal experience only!

 

I was also very interested to notice that when my business reached a certain level, and I was living a lifestyle I was very happy with, my motivation to keep growing it really dropped off. Because I was very happy where I was - I had enough money, I had a nice home, I had a great lifestyle, there was no stick to keep pushing me forward, even though I knew there were still lots of things that I wanted to do. I was making progress but it was much slower than I wanted. So again I looked at how I could build in another layer, and the answer for me on that occasion was to hire my own business coach/mentor. What this gave me was a level of accountability to someone else, now if I didn't start to pick up the pace and do what I said I'd do I'd be letting someone else down who'd invested their time and energy in me and I'd have to admit my lack of progress. No chance I was going to let that happen! And so we moved onwards and upwards to the next level.

 

Carrot people on the other hand I feel have it easier, generally if you're motivated by "carrots" you can focus your energies on clear goal setting, vision boards etc. Get clear on what you want to be/do/have, create your action plan and, as long as you keep your eye on the prize, generally that's enough to get you fired up each morning. And of course most people will be a mixture of both, and there are also many other elements to motivation that you can build in as well, but as a basic principle I think it's helpful to give some thought to whether you're predominantly a "carrot person" or a "stick person", and if you're a stick and you hadn't realised, maybe you'll want to start building in some extra layers to give you that extra push. Last Summer I went travelling around Central America with a friend of mine who's very definitely a "carrot person" and it was really interesting to see our different reactions at times to situations; where her motivation would be focussed on getting to the next place/thing, my motivation would be focussed on not getting stuck in a bad/dangerous situation getting there due to lack of planning. My advice: If you're going to go travelling, go with someone who is the opposite of you, it might lead to a few slightly uncomfortable conversations but the compromises you reach will be pretty well balanced :)

 

 

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My coaching programme comes from years of personal experience, studying high performance strategies & a passion for helping business owners take control of their business & create their dream lifestyle. 

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