“That sucked, I suck” Stephen said to himself as he sat down after his presentation at the senior management team off-site. “I’m going to stay up all night and prepare for the next one.”
Whilst preparation is a good idea, it’s how you prepare that matters. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but perfect practice does.
When we don’t perform as we expect or wish, whether in business, sport or relationships, we are prone to punish ourselves. But is this useful?
Having goals and standards for behavior is at the heart of self-leadership (Bryant & Kazan 2012), but punishing yourself for not reaching them immediately is counter-productive.
Guilt is a useful emotion; it lets us know we didn’t meet a standard we have adopted (either by choice or from our culture). Shame, on the other hand, is a total condemnation of oneself as a person. Shame leads to feelings of worthlessness and a self-fulfilling prophesy of failure.
He who loves does
Quem ama faz – he who loves does, is a Brazilian expression that perfectly captures the secret to motivation. When you love someone or something you do what’s necessary.
Punishing yourself is going to take all the enjoyment out of starting or developing a behavior.
There is NO FAILURE, only FEEDBACK for IMPROVEMENT
From coaching and interviewing hundreds of successful people, I know that this is a powerful mind-set of success (Bryant 2016). Combine this with the confidence that you can improve, and the love of personal and professional development, and you have a winning formula.
Learn to love the behaviors that are moving you towards your goal.
Rather than punish and shame himself for his less than perfect presentation, Stephen could have been grateful for the self-awareness that this could have been better. Been confident that he had the ability to improve, and loved the challenge to improve himself.
Do you think this approach would yield a better outcome?
The Benefits of Self-Reward
You are much more likely to continue with a behavior if you are rewarded for it. With Self-leadership we provide our own rewards for behaviors that move us towards our objectives. Rather than punish yourself, if you don’t hit your target, you don’t get the reward.
Rewards can be mental or physical. Just saying to yourself, “good job, well done” is a powerful motivator to continue to do and develop a behavior.
Physical rewards like granting yourself TV time, a trip to the movies or an ice-cream will work, if these are things you like.
The trick to being motivated with self-reward is to set it up in advance. For example, after going to the gym today, I’m going to reward myself by relaxing with a coffee at my favorite café. After finishing this report, I’m going to get up, stretch and get some cookies.
Notice, my examples were for short-term behaviors. This is the place to start. Of course, you could set a goal to ‘go on holiday’ when you finish your MBA, but you may never finish it if you don’t engage in some study behaviors beforehand.
Self-reward builds confidence by reinforcing effective behaviors, and in turn our increased confidence becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy for our future success.
So go and reward yourself for taking time to read a post about personal and professional development.