Ninja Motivation

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?


~ by George Guajardo on July 23, 2009.

2 Responses to “Ninja Motivation”

  1. Even curmudgeons like to please people. Sounds like he made you feel like you “pleased” him and he “approved” of what you were or had done to date. He affirmed you. Who doesn’t respond to affirmation, right.

    Say, by the way, really nice post (affirmation).

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