If you light a fire under a snail, you’ll get escargot! Everyone has a personal velocity, a pace and intensity at which they work best. If you over-challenge them, they progress from stress to anxiety to burnout. On the other hand, if you under-challenge them they will go from boredom to apathy to depression.
We each have our own “zone” of optimal velocity. When we stay within it, we are magnificent. Outside of it, we get in trouble.
Make a list of the people you work with. Note customers, coworkers, and business friends. Then place each of them on a velocity scale (high, moderate or low) based on your overall experience with them. Measuring what they actually do (as opposed to what they merely say), answer these questions about each of them.
- Is this person a self-starter?
- Does he or she do best with lots to do or with one focused project at a time?
- How genuinely ambitious is this person?
- Does he or she hold himself/herself to high, moderate or low standards of performance?
- When the work seems to be done, does this person instantly launch into a new project or wait for direction?
High velocity people jump in with both feet and usually initiate action. Moderate velocity types sometimes lead and often follow another’s lead. Lower velocity people tend to follow the group and wait for leadership.
In your list you’ll probably find all three. This helps you determine how to help each person stay at the top of their zone, but not above it, where they lose effectiveness.
Choose the challenge that suits the person. In a sales call, don’t overwhelm the low velocity person with an ultra-ambitious proposal. Take it a step at a time. For the high velocity prospect, don’t bore them with a plan that’s too small. Try to suit your suggestions to their nature. Then grow from there.
The more you learn to notice the differences in velocity, the more you’ll be able to adapt to each person. It’s not a matter of getting everyone to “be more motivated,” it’s a matter of nurturing their nature. When you identify their motives you can direct your motivation toward them.
As my friend, Joe Willard, a consummate sales leader, says, “People change, but seldom.” Meet people where they are. Help them advance from there. Don’t try to change them. Adapt your leadership style to their personal nature and you’ll make more sales and more friends, as well.
Based on the book, The Acorn Principle by Jim Cathcart, St. Martin’s Press