Yes, we know carrots are good for your physical health—your skin, digestion and blood pressure, plus some—and they’re good for your mental health too.
I want to be sure our thinking is aligned regarding the “mental health” though…
Using my exercise routine as an example, here’s my self-talk about exercising:
“I enjoy a physical workout. It wakes me up, physically and mentally.
It’s extremely healthy. And it creates a better looking body too. I woudn’t
be without it.”
Consequently, when it’s time to get out of bed and prepare for my exercise routine, I’m energised and rearing to go.
Alternatively, if I used a stick rather than a carrot as my motivator to exercise, my self-talk would be something like this:
“Oh no, it’s time to get up and prepare to exercise. I don’t have much energy,
but I’d better get out of bed and get started or I’ll turn into a fat, unhealthy slob.”
A Leader’s Fear Of Not Being Successful
A couple of weeks ago an impressive and highly competent leader I coach disclosed that he feared “not being successful” as he moved up the leadership ladder into bigger roles.
This “fear of failure” thinking clearly impacted his day-to-day behaviours and brought on a whole lot of stress. It had him unhealthily running on nervous adrenalin, which caused him to be mentally and emotionally absent when he was with his wife and two little children, for example.
As he described his situation, I became concerned about his well-being. Consistently having nervous adrenalin present in your body has potentially serious health risks.
Something needed to shift!
Fortunately, his candid disclosure enabled us to talk about the consequences of him being motivated with a stick—verses being motivated with a carrot.
“Stick Thinking” Verses “Carrot Thinking”
“Stick thinking” is fearful thinking—unsettling, threatened, worrisome, nervous thinking: “If I don’t do xyz, I fear something bad will happen.”
Fearful thinking isn’t in an exemplary leaders reportiore, unlike “carrot thinking”.
“Carrot thinking” is courageous, confident thinking—thinking that focuses on positive outcomes. It’s theme is “By doing xyz, I’ll create something good.”
So How Did We Shift The Above Leader’s Thinking?
He decided to make “success” a carrot…
Once he had the stick-carrot distinction, he impressively made a decision to be excited about what he could create in his successful leadership career.
He released the potential costs of his andrenalin driven fear, and replaced it with a story that focused on the upside potential and likely positive outcomes of having superb leadership practices and behaviours.
Your Next Step
My assumption, because you’re reading this Leadership Bulletin, is that you want to be an even better leader. Therefore my suggestion is that you use carrots, not sticks, as your personal motivator.
Being aware any fearful thinking that might have crept into your self-talk or unconsciousness is the first step to removing it. You can then replace your stick-thoughts with carrot-thoughts.
Where are you in danger of motivating yourself with a stick—rather than a carrot?
“Carolyn’s coaching works! It’s as simple as that. Without exaggertion, it has been the best investment for me to be be able to achieve my career goals.”
Hebbat Manhy, Senior Global Product Manager, ResMed
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.