“Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them.”
– Darth Vader, Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
Vader says this right at the beginning of the movie, when the imperial crew building on the second Death Star is failing to meet the Emperor’s demanding schedule, which is more vital to the Empire than the workers know. Their commander assures Vader that they’re working as fast as they can, and he responds with this quote. We don’t see what he did, though I doubt it was anything good, but whatever it was, apparently it did the trick; they went from being behind schedule to being on schedule.
Now, the words may come to us from George Lucas via a terrifying dark lord that has a penchant for leaving bodies and newly-promoted subordinates in his wake, but it’s true, isn’t it?
Motivate someone properly, or, better yet, help them motivate themselves, and they can do all kinds of things they never thought they could before.
One businessman went to one of his company’s locations, a factory, because the workers there were not producing adequate quantities of their merchandise. It was baffling partially because the manager of the site was usually so capable, but he’d tried everything he could think of to urge them to do better, and nothing was working. What did this businessman do to help? He just ignited a little spark of competition between the day shift and the night shift, stepped back, and voila! The factory suddenly started producing magnificently, because the workers were motivated. Even better, they found that motivation within themselves. They wanted to do better.
For another example:
Recently, my nephew was adamantly insisting that he had “tried his hardest” at something, when in reality he gave up the moment it became difficult. He stubbornly declared that he could never do better. Then, the next time he was made to try again, he did much better. He had his mind on what he could get out of this situation, both an immediate reward and an improvement of his circumstances in the long term. So, instead of telling himself he couldn’t do it, and giving up the moment it got hard, he told himself, “I can do it, I can do it.” He pushed through. He worked hard, truly.
I gave him sincere and heart approbation for doing so much better than he did before. He put more effort in and achieved something of himself. He mentioned that his body still hurt from the physical part of the effort, and yes, it does hurt. That just means he accomplished something.
As I write this, I am truly proud of my nephew.
…and, as I may have helped to ignite and fan the spark of his own self-motivation a bit, I can’t help but think, “I am his uncle!” 😉