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Inspiring “one inch at a time”

January 7, 2012

Motivation = (Expectancy)(Value)/(Impulsiveness)(Delay)

How does something gain value and thus motivate us more?  I think most things gain value when two concepts are present:  clarity & simplicity. Clarity means that the idea or concept is easily understood.  Here are two examples of clarity:

*If  I get an “A” on the final, I will get an “A” for the course   *If I sell more things, I will get a higher commission”

Simplicity has to do with the complexity of the task or idea.  Tasks/Ideas that are super complicated or vague are not inspiring.  Tasks/Ideas that are reachable, tangible and easily understood are motivating.  Here are some ideas that are simple:

*A coach says, “Let’s go 1-0 this week.”  “Finish every play.”  “Play hard for 60 minutes.”

*A father says, “Give me 20 minutes of your attention.”  “We tell the truth in our family.”  “Your effort level is what really is important”

When we communicate in a clear and simple manner, we tend to add value and motivate others.  That’s why I love the clip of Al Pacino as a football coach in Any Given Sunday (sorry for the profanity).  He is delivering a pregame speech before the biggest game of the year.  He tells stories and wanders around a little bit, but his basic message is simple:  Football is about trusting your teammates and controlling the six inches in front of your face.  Now, maybe I am just a simple guy, but I like those two concepts, because I understand them!!!

As fathers, when we communicate with clarity and simplicity our children will respond.  Being clear and simple is actually much harder than rambling and being vague.  We need to do some reflection, clarify our own thoughts and then speak with precision.  When we do, our children will move forward “one inch at a time”.

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL.  Contact him at

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