Causing trouble apparently interests people.

I’ve received more offline comments about my recent post on causing disruption than any post I’ve written before.  I’m not sure how many troublemakers there are but there are certainly some that appreciate the concept.

Looking at it again I think the big gap that keeps people from being more engaged in this process is fear.  So much of everything we do in our jobs is driven by fear:

  • Fear of getting fired.
  • Fear of not getting a raise.
  • Fear of not meeting our quarterly goals.
  • Fear of making the boss angry.
  • Fear of being asked to fire someone.
  • Fear of being uncomfortable.

Fear as a motivator can be good but it can also be very, very bad.  When we are afraid of an outcome we will do everything we can to minimize that risk – even if it means sacrificing true success.  If striving for winning means a 25% chance of getting fired when you fail, most will opt for the mediocre solution with a < 1% chance of getting fired.  You get none of the upside because they want none of the downside.  True success exists when people either get rid of their own fear or they know that they will be taken care of as long as they are doing the right things.

Are you rewarding mediocrity by punishing failure?

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