Motivational Feedback Tactics

So you need to have a tough discussion?  I was recently asked for suggestions about motivational feedback tactics, although the specific request was how to create motivation while delivering news about failure.  Well, let’s start off with semantics – it is one of my favorite topics!  Rather than address motivational tactics around failure, I’ll call it feedback.  

Why feedback instead of failure?  Well, our culture has a strong emotional association to words and many of us have a particularly gut-wrenching negative  connection tied to the term “failure”.  Even if that is not the case for you, it can be incredibly challenging to know how another person is interpreting that phrase in the context, at the particular moment in a conversation and based on their individual association with hat could be considered a charged word.

On top of all of that, if the goal is to motivate someone, using a positive dialogue is more likely going to create a better rapport and keep the dialogue more open, rather than the listener becoming defensive and hearing only “blah blah blah” in the background as he or she fumes over the scenario unfolding.  Creating a positive approach allows for creativity and brainstorming new ideas and solutions.  And thank goodness Edison looked at it that way, so we can enjoy so many of his inventions:

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. – Thomas Edison

This is a video by one of my favorite, motivational public speakers, Tony Robbins, from a TED Talks in 2006.  While a little bit dated and a tad long (21 minutes), even just checking out the first 7 minutes, you’ll get a realization about how important it is to bust through the barriers of all our excuses and take ownership for our surroundings, choices and decisions.  Plus, it is pretty spectacular to see Tony Robbins call Al Gore out – see for yourself.  Here’s a brief snippet:

 No one talks about failure. Let’s talk about it. Why did you fail? I always hear ‘resources’ as the excuse — not enough time, money, energy, technology. People blame resources as the excuse for failure. It’s not the lack of resources that cause failure, it’s the lack of resourcefulness that causes failure. Resourcefulness is the cure to failure. Successful people are resourceful and find a way to make it work. – Tony Robbins

One difficult thing about providing feedback, especially in the case of what Tony says, is that it really makes a person think about his or her ownership in the process of where they are and the way things are…and some people aren’t ready to view it from that perspective.   Still, I’ve always usually been a believer that honesty (in a tactful manner, of course) is the best policy :-)

smartgoalsSo how do you tap into someone’s resourcefulness?  Start with small wins.  Rather than look at a project, for example, from a mile high view, what is one aspect that be broken down into a small chunk?  Make sure it is manageable and set SMART goals to set the individual or group up for success by clearly defining expectations.  This is a process and a series of small wins will eventually shift the mindset and viewpoint of the individual to allow re-engagement with the confidence of resourcefulness.  We are all capable and sometimes just need to chart a different course to end up at the same destination.

My favorite motivational quote was sent out to our entire company by one of my mentors, Jake Weinbaum, when he was CEO at

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running. – African proverb

I remember feeling a buzz of energy in the office for weeks after this was sent out – it was as if everybody came into work with their heads held a little higher and there was a collective charge to our destination.  That’s the win-win goal, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle…

What tactics have you used to motivate other while providing feedback and what were the results?  Comment and discuss below.

~ Health, Happiness and Prosperity ~

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