lightsabersI have to say, my two boys inspired this one.  First off, what a wacky title… here’s the thought – PAIN (actually it’s avoidance of pain) IS THE STRONGEST MOTIVATOR!  No matter the type of pain: physical, mental, emotional – it’s proven that the avoidance of perceived pain is a stronger motivator than the gain of perceived pleasure.  This goes for everyone of all ages, once we begin to develop our own personalities, understand right from wrong and know what it is to win and lose, no matter how young or old.

Let me lay the ground work for this.  My wife and I explain to our two boys – ages three and nine (as many of you have probably done in your own families) – “Boys, the basement needs to be cleaned up, if you get it done then you can play video games later.”  We use the limited video games, or ice cream or some equally simple reward to get them to participate in the household chores from time to time.  An hour goes by, we check on the progress – oddly enough the basement is actually worse than before, the three year old is now equipped with swim goggles and nun-chucks and is only defending himself from the onslaught of the nine year old who is dual wielding nerf swords and wearing a cape.  WTF just happened here?  So, wanting to allow the boys to complete their task – “Guys… get the swords and goggles put away!  Finish the cleaning, that is your job before we do anything else today.”  The three year old, who is quite sensitive, starts to cry and exclaims, “Do we still get to play games?”  And, of course they can if it get finished, “Let’s get it done guys!’  Another 30 minutes, now mind you, we are not oblivious parents, and I would not call myself a bad dad by any means – we just give them time to perform things on their own, that’s a different lesson for us and a blog for a different day.  We check for the second time, as we hear the sound effects of race cars and explosions – older boy now making explosion sounds as he performs super hero moves on the exercise equipment and the younger one doing the “VROOM” noise and launching Matchbox cars twenty feet across the room… as any good parent would do, now frustrated (yes, I created it mostly myself, but that isn’t the point), it’s, “CLEAN THIS BASEMENT NOW OR I WILL SPANK THE BOTH OF YOU!”  After some stunned silence and a little whimpering they begin working feverishly, performing cleaning acts far superior to the Merry-Maids, these two boys within 15 minutes have everything completed and now want to show off, in unison “Dad, please come look at the basement and how clean it is!”  And amazingly, no mention of video games, ice cream, nothing – just pride in having completed their job and knowing that no form of pain either physical or emotional was headed their way.

The point: we as humans all operate the same way, we will do more to avoid whatever spanking (pain) may come our way, but up until that point we are often there with swim goggles and a set of nun-chucks.  Think about it, we do it everyday in our jobs, we check out Facebook or Twitter, eBay or other sites when we could be doing something productive at work – hell, some of you are doing it now!  The unfortunate thing that most people do not understand is that the true outcome is usually GREATER if you motivate yourself to do it with the hope of pleasure at the end… because generally the reward will be there, be it a physical reward or some praise or acknowledgment.

So, for each task laid in front of you, TAKE ACTION – get motivated, either reach for the golden cup because you desire to win, or just think about what may happen if you don’t get done what you need to and you will find yourself taking unbelievable action and performing far superior to your normal level.