Motivation Comes from Within, and Try It On at Home

My favorite instructor in college taught me the most important and fundamental rule of management:  Motivation comes from within.  The only thing that a manager can do is provide incentives.

Fear is not technically motivation, but it can be a powerful incentive when it is used in the proper context.  Some people are afraid of everything (sadly, I fit in that category most of the time, as I am a horrible coward) and others fear little if nothing at all.  If you can find another person’s fear and harness it to your advantage, (sounds a bit like blackmail, and it is) you can for all practical purposes own that person.  He or she will have sufficient motivation to honor your requirements and requests with very little effort or oversight from you, other than a threat now and then if things aren’t getting done to your liking. 

Fear as an incentive can backfire big time if you don’t have any currency to back it up.  If you lack the power to carry out your threats then you no longer engender any fear in your subordinates and you have to find another incentive.  Some people like to be made to feel important.  I know I’m not important, so telling me how much you like me, (most people tolerate me at best and very few actually like me, I know that already) or how “essential” I am to you doesn’t mean jack unless you have some dead presidents to go along with your vapid praise.  Money as an incentive works very well for a good number of people, yours truly included, but you have to be able to provide the money if the person fulfills your objective.   Money fails to be an incentive with the quickness if the person fulfills the objective and then is cheated out of the money in some way.  I’ve been there and done that too many times.

I don’t like to manage by fear.  I’ve had too many people control me that way and frankly, it pisses me off.  Fear has ceased to be an incentive for me most of the time.  Money is fine, as long as the other side delivers on their promises.  I like certain other material perks as well such as dinners, clothing and other assorted goodies, but money is generally the favorite.

Some people are big on recognition and status and titles.  Titles and status don’t impress me at all.  As the saying goes, money talks and bullshit walks.  I could care less about authority unless I have been given a responsibility to carry out a certain task.  Don’t ask me to do something or to be responsible for something and then not allow me the authority to carry it out.  It is amazing how many organizations hobble their employees and even low to mid- level managers by giving out responsibilities without granting the needed authority to carry them out.  How many times have I seen a network of people rendered completely useless because the only guy who is authorized to make a decision can’t be reached because he is out in the Bahamas on a cruise somewhere?  What the hell do you even need him for if he has time to fart off on an expensive and likely company-funded cruise?  If you don’t trust people to make decisions, don’t make them responsible for outcomes.  In fact, don’t make them responsible for anything- unless they also have the authority to make a decision.

Human nature is said to be such that we pursue pleasure and avoid pain (another little nugget from Psych 101) which in most instances is true enough, unless you’re a sadist or a masochist, and then pain is pleasurable which makes no freaking sense to me.  Then again-I do find the humor in disappointment and emotional pain- does that count as masochism?  Or is that just a coping mechanism?

Jerry should never be allowed to shop for clothing alone again.  Yesterday he decided of his own volition to go to Old Navy and get another shirt like the one he already has.  So he goes to the Old Navy, picks out a shirt, tries it on, (which is something I absolutely refuse to do in public) buys the size large he tried on, only to discover the shirt he had at home is an X-large.  These shirts are 100% cotton and will shrink when washed, which is why the large fit in the store, but probably would not fit after being washed.  Logic would tell me, look at the tag on the shirt at home before leaving to go to the store, then go get another one exactly like it, in the proper size.  That way you neither suffer the indignity of undressing in public fitting rooms, and you get a shirt that will fit after being washed. 

There are numerous reasons why I absolutely refuse try on clothes in public fitting rooms.  The oldest and most primary reason is because Mom always made us try on everything.  If she liked it (and she liked some pretty ghastly stuff) you had to try it on.  Generally if she wanted you to try it on you didn’t want it to begin with, but most of the time she just wanted to see “how it would look on you.”  Who gives a rat’s ass what it looks like if you aren’t going to buy it?  The way I always looked at it is I would find out soon enough how bad I would look in my sisters’ old clothes without ever having to try them on in public in front of the two-way mirror that some pervert is monitoring. Unfortunately I could never win her over to my point of view- but if I can’t try it on in the comfort and privacy of my own home I didn’t need it anyway.

Today is even worse because of the video cameras.  Back in the 70’s and 80’s video cameras were too expensive so all you had to worry about was the one or two perverts watching the two-way mirror.  I know full well there are cameras in those fitting rooms, and they are being monitored by some pervo in India or somewhere who is taking all that scrumptious footage of you in your old bra and threadbare granny panties, recording it, and putting it on a video montage for pervos around the world to share via YouTube.

Somewhere in Siberia some pervert is watching Jerry try on that shirt at Old Navy, and making commentary in a foreign language regarding Jerry’s  thin arms and very hairless chest.  I can only hope he didn’t try on jeans, although I just bought him some new whitey-tighties.  I bet older guys fumbling about in whitey tighties would be funny in Siberia too.

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