02 Apr 2012, Posted by Melissa Thoma in Articles,Multi, No Comments.
By: Melissa Thoma | 04/02/2012
Managers understand that a key part of the job is motivating their staff to perform at the highest level. Great leaders and managers are considered great because they have an innate ability to inspire top performance in their employees. Coaches are often judged by how they motivate their teams. Teachers are evaluated by how they motivate their students. Ever thought of the role you play in motivating your family?
When was the last time you really thought about how you might motivate your significant other to reach his or her highest potential? Too often we major in the minors and get caught up in the routine at home—failing to practice the art of motivation while focusing on criticism or just plan inattention.
In a Newsweek commentary on the characteristics of winning teams, Jack and Suzy Welch write that attaining the highest performance from the team requires relentless coaching of middling performers and constant praise and reinforcement of star performers. I really like this concept for families. (The Welches also advocate that the best thing the leader can do for chronic underachievers is help them find the door; this strikes me as a poor practice for families!)
Let’s look at coaching/training. If there is one thing my husband and I have learned through business ownership it is that we can’t always just do it ourselves. We’ve learned we can take all kinds of time and resources teasing out how to improve our performance in some area—or we can bring in a great coach with the resources and experience to train us more efficiently. We’ve brought that concept to the homefront as well. A couple of years ago, Martin was suffering from “multi-task-ism”. You know that disorder. You have lost all ability to focus because you have been subject to constant interruption from multiple sources. While this was affecting his work life, it was really creating issues at home where he always seemed to need to work rather than rest. He was distracted and unable to be fully present for our family.
I encouraged him to seek some mindfulness activity and he chose to take the six-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course pioneered by Jon Kabat Zin. That course was almost immediately helpful. And when he felt himself slipping earlier this year, he went right back for a refresher course.
I find that physical training helps motivate me and provides balance in my life. When I’m training for a marathon or half marathon, I perform better in many aspects of my life. I sleep better, eat better, have more energy, feel better about my body. I’m just plain happier. My husband has been a major source of support and coaching, riding along beside me on long runs, training with me for shorter races. And generally encouraging me to keep on keeping on.
Coaching or training in the form of counseling can save marriages. David Finch, the author of The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to be a Better Husband, literally trained himself to be the very best husband and father he could be by using notes—written on napkins and the backs of envelopes—as reminders to behave in ways that were better for him and his family. He wrote things like: “Don’t change the radio station when Kristen’s singing along.” “Let Kristen shower in the morning without crowding her.” “Give the kids vitamins without asking Kristen a million steps and directions on how to do that.” He took seriously the need to train himself to be the best he could be at home. According to his website “guided by the journal of best practices, David transforms himself over the course of two years from the world’s most trying husband to the husband who tries the hardest.” It saved his marriage.
Now let’s talk about positive feedback and encouragement. Encouraging and praising kids is often so easy. It can just roll out of you as you are charmed by your child’s mastery of new skills or discovery of a hidden talent. But what about our spouse? Do you consciously try to encourage or praise your significant other daily? I think this one might be a bit harder for couples to practice. And I’m not sure why. Truth is, I’ve trained myself to pass along positive feedback from clients to our work team. I’m always conscious of the need my staff has to hear my praise. It’s really just another training opportunity at home. We need to bring that level of consciousness to our spouses and to our families at home.
My husband doesn’t know this (I guess he will when he reads this!), but when I consciously praise his efforts, he beams like a little boy! It’s so endearing, and I can see the light in his eyes. He deserves much more of that feedback from me. And so does your significant other.