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Your desperation isn’t motivating

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According to motivational speaker Anthony Robbins, people change for one of two reasons: inspiration or desperation. He adds that it is normally desperation that gets people to the point of change. But desperation can only cause change when it comes from within; it doesn’t work as well when used as a tool to motivate others.

When you feel the strain that accompanies poor performance, it’s easy to react by exporting your fears, concerns and stress onto your team. It shows up as anger, impatience and intolerance—none of which are motivating to others.

You need to see change, so you ratchet up the pressure on everyone around you. But instead of creating a burning platform, you torch everyone standing on that platform and destroy the very people (and relationships) you most need when you most need them. Desperation isn’t the right motivator; inspiration is a far better choice.

People respond to challenges. They respond when faced with a mission that has real meaning. They respond to the opportunity to make a difference. People respond to the chance to grow, to become something more than they are today. We love the underdog with her back against the wall because we see ourselves in her. We want to be inspired. We want to believe.

People see you in one of two states when you’re under serious pressure: as the very best version of yourself or the very worst. But there is no path to improved performance that begins with you at your very worst. By transferring your desperation onto your team, you may cause people to change, but it won’t be the kind of change you need. Inspire your team to improve by becoming the inspiring leader they want you to be.

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S. Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go


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