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I found this comic strip in 2010. I’ve been using it with my clients ever since.

motivation strategy

When I first read it, this comic made me shudder. I flashed back to my earliest spectacular deadline-dashes:

  • Fifth grade. English class. Mrs. Reid.
  • Seventh Grade. English class. Mr. DuPriest.
  • Tenth Grade. Comp & Rhet. Ms. Yow.
  • Freshman year. Calculus. <no clue!>

In each case, I left something to the 11th hour (book report, fiction journal, term paper, the entire course).

Truth be told, I LOVED the adrenaline rush! It motivated me. Was it nerve-racking? Gut-wrenching? Ulcer-inducing? Yes. Was it also weirdly satisfying? Absolutely!

In fact, like many entrepreneurs, (not just students), it became a strategy. I mastered the skill of using adrenaline as a motivator. The work always got “done.” And usually on time – even when that meant delivering the product, tires screeching, sliding sideways across the finish line.

But a skill over-used, or a strategy wrongly applied, can be a fast path to disaster.

Academically, the impact was mostly limited to me, Professionally, the impact rippled across my entire team. Stress increased. Orders were entered late. Report deadlines were pushed or missed. Presentations were slapped together. Proposals were submitted down to the wire. Careless, sloppy, often fatal errors were commonplace. Sometimes they killed deals. A few were job-ending.

When I became conscious of what was important to me about my work — when I began to center on the “why” instead of only focusing on the “what” — I learned to replace adrenaline fueled panic with values-based intention.

Now, when I go unconscious, when I stop paying attention, when I am not intentional, I revert to that old strategy and seek the adrenaline rush. Old habits die hard, after all.

But intentionality offers a different approach, a productive strategy — and it is always just a simple thought away.

So whether you’re modeling for your organization, or being transparent with your team, remember that a little intentionality can go a long way.

The temptation of the adrenaline rush will always be just around the corner. But the comfort of values-based planning and thoughtfulness beats it very time — at least, when I remember to think about it.


Adrenaline: Break the Habit!

  • Focus: What old strategies no longer work for you?
  • Clarity: Where are you still using them?
  • Action: Who will you enroll to help you break the habit?

What will you choose now?

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