May 24, 2019

From Doing To Done

Real estate is an energy game. As trusted providers of advice and professional marketing and negotiation services, real estate agents must be motivated each and every day to suit up and show up. They say if you love what you do, then you’ll never work a day in your life. What they should also tell you is that when you love the people you work with and the community you work for, then work requires very little motivation. But not everyone is as lucky as we are.

Simon Sinek’s incredible movement towards finding your “why” has created a surge on matters of vision and purpose – which is an excellent thing – because we came out of the 1990s with a ‘greed is good’ hangover and it’s sad that it has taken this long.

It has always been such a paradox that the ones who state financial outcomes as their “why” tend to go on to yield only average incomes or hit a ceiling as to their financial potential. We can say that this group uses financial outcomes as the primary motivation, and this is external motivation.

Those who are driven by internal motivators, such as “belonging”, “service” or “completion” are the ones who do tend to do better, in life. This second group is driven by internal or intrinsic motivators; with financial gain being a by-product of their primary drive.

If the outcome of reward for effort in real estate is financial, why does a direct aim at financial gain, fail to hit the mark while those aiming for non-financial goals hit the target as an accidental outcome of their primary aim?

Success leaves clues.

External motivation as a driving force has been robustly tested in the context of both work and learning and both External Regulation (financial rewards) and Introjection (ego involvement) represent external forms of human motivation that are wanting, according to the social scientist Deci.

The social scientist Deci began testing extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in 1972 by asking a control and a test group of individuals to solve four puzzles in a lab which they either were or were not able to do in a given period of time.

The individuals were then allowed free time in the lab which was also stocked with books, music and snacks. The control group were not paid, the test group were paid. During the free time, it was the control group, (the unpaid group), who worked on solving the puzzles during their free time whereas the test group had lost interest on account of their doing the activity for the money.

The experiment was repeated to test the effect of contingent and non-contingent financial rewards and to test whether threats of punishment and the presence of positive or negative feedback would have any impact on performance.

This is what happened:

The group offered a financial reward based on their performance performed worse than the test group (with no motivation) and worse than the group who were paid to participate regardless of outcome.

The group offered a reward based on their participation only performed at the same level as the test group (no motivation).

The group threatened with punishment and those given negative feedback (enough for individuals to question their own competence) demonstrated a decrease in motivation that the test group (no motivation).

Those participants who were offered positive feedback were the only group who demonstrated results better than the test group (who had no financial motivation). As an interesting aside, in follow up research it was observed that there was a threshold to positive feedback before it began to de-motivate individuals due to it being perceived as disingenuous and inauthentic.

So what does this mean for those of us struggling to get to the gym, do the laundry, or finish a renovation project? It means that if we can reconnect with the purpose of those activities, then we can enjoy them.

The gym might connect us to feeling good in our clothes or an active lifestyle with our families. Getting the laundry done connects us to peace and sanctuary in our homes and gives us fresh smelling options to choose how we express our identity to the world. Finishing the home renovation project might connect us to a trade up in the property market, or it might be lining the nest for the next chapter of our life at home. In either event, if we can bring the reward of the outcome to the process of earning it – then we move through a much richer experience of achievement and, importantly, no extra motivation needed.