Forget the Target

That carrot game is bad for our health. If I do this, I’ll get that. External incentives in many cases can give us false leads or direction. Often times though, they back fire. We will carry out unnecessary things to achieve the target because of that carrot. Even if it means taking short cuts and really bad risks.

The target of the carrot is intended to inspire to be efficient to get to the end and feel the reward. Overused though we can lose faith because we lose the feeling of what it takes. Not taking the short cut or even having the target to worry about brings something completely altruistic and real. This is the space I prefer to play. No target, not carrot dangling in my face. Uncharted work.

Carrots can bring a feeling of pressure you don’t need. The work itself it is going to be pressure enough. Carrots dangling in our face can actually make us inhibited in our work. Having an attitude towards risk is exhilarating which I only get without a carrot wagging in my face. Something about free soloing something like the face of a sheer rock with no rope brings something different to the climb.

Can the stick and carrot be effective? In the case of receiving an incentive and reward? Maybe. I’m just saying it doesn’t work for me. The stick and carrot can have harmful consequences for me. When my work takes more of a demanding slant or curve with a stick and carrot strategy if I let it. I find immoral ways to win and an actual decline in my drive for results. With out, I feel freer and uninhibited.

We grow up relying on extrinsic motivators like the carrot for so long we start to lose our touch with the intrinsic ones. Our promise of recognition in work/life depending on the visual over that of the intangible. We grow to need extrinsic. That dopamine hit. The best example I can give you is the like button we’re so worried about getting or not getting. The text message that comes or doesn’t come. We cannot seem to get away from the extrinsic. These extrinsic carrots eventually complete erode our intrinsic reasoning for doing something.

50% of employees in the USA report feeling uncommitted to their job. They fulfill their duties but lack passion. This is because many are under-stretched in their work and have few opportunities for personal development.

– Daniel Pink

The most creative people I’ve come to know pursue their tasks with an ultra high degree of concentration and passion which is drawn from internal drives. No carrots here. Even when they peak, there is this belief in a continual angle of looking at that achievement as just a rest stop along the way. Not the end. Continual improvement. Giving someone the opportunity to continually improve is far better than the carrot on a stick. They will work harder and stronger.

Rewards and sanctions have a place. But, they are no match for the internal drive if you can tap into it. In the long run if you let extrinsic be the only thing that motivates you, you will find yourself numbed to your very own passions and creativity.

Thanks for reading. Hope you’re weekend has been a great one of rest and reflection.

✌ Shawn

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