I am not exactly a novice when it comes to understanding human motivation, so I was surprised when I realized that I was the target of a simple and effective motivation attempt. Here’s the story:
I recently joined a gym to help me lose some weight. It has been a very long time since I last worked out routinely and I thought it would be a good idea to get some expert guidance from the friendly trainer. He had me go through a strength test to find out my maximum strength for each of my major muscle groups. When it was all said and done, my trainer says, “Good Job. You are a pretty strong guy.”
Under most circumstances I would have mentally dismissed this statement as either an ingratiation technique, or as a way to motivate me by making my goal seem more achievable. Ordinarily, his statement would have amused me (not visibly, of course- I am polite to a fault). However, I beamed at his compliment. He made me feel like a million bucks and my enthusiasm for the whole fitness endeavor when up a notch or two.
So what happened? Why did this simple statement slip through my psychological armor and have its intended effect? I can’t say for certain. I am sure there are plenty of factors that contribute to that particular result, but I can say it taught me a valuable lesson about the effectiveness of simple “atta-boys.” I am not suggesting they will always work, particularly for jaded curmudgeons like myself, but it is important to realize that they won’t all fail either.
Are atta-boys part of your motivational arsenal?