Thursday, 18 April 2013

It’s Like Riding a Bike

Do you remember the time that you learned how to ride a bike? 

I’m sure you do.  I’m sure most of us do. 
I’m sure that most of us will remember that tentative period between the day the training wheels came off and being sufficiently competent to ride unassisted. 
Flying solo as it were. 
Getting better at it, every day. 
Sure, you had some scrapes along the way but all-in-all you got better and better at it.  And the better you became the more you enjoyed it; because, it brought a new found feeling of confidence, a sense of enjoyment, a sense of purpose and empowerment.  All pretty exhilarating experiences for someone under the age of ten. 
It was such a sense of emotional achievement that it became one of the small milestones in your life.

And that’s why you remember it.  The sense of unqualified yet qualified mastery. Some of you will be visualising it – right now.  And feeling that sense of euphoria you felt on that day that you learned to ride your bike.
Now imagine if you could recreate that experience in the workplace.  Imagine if you could recreate those emotions in people that work for you and with you.  Now that would be quite something wouldn’t it?

You see, success breeds success.
Employees who are supported and coached throughout challenging processes have their intrinsic esteem-needs rewarded by their success which, in turn, provides the motivation to progress.

Without encouragement and the provision of a safe and blameless environment, most of us would still be riding our bicycles with training wheels attached – too fearful to allow anyone to ever remove them. Someone probably taught you how to ride your bike – even if they only gave you a few pointers to get you going.
So, who caught you when you fell and who was by your side to encourage you? Who cheered with you when you finally made it without falling over and scraping your knees again? Whoever they were; they were supportive, encouraging, patient and forgiving. And undoubtedly, within weeks of celebrating your success of going solo – you were looking for obstacles to go through and ramps to jump off as you pursued new challenges in your riding experience.

Research shows that when people feel intrinsically motivated, they enter into a high performance state, predominantly fuelled by three fundamental human needs:
First, is a sense of purpose - the need to feel that we are contributing and progressing towards something that is worthwhile and achievable.

Second, is in mastery - the sense of being competent, celebrating our successes and expanding our abilities.
And third is autonomy - the desire for self-direction and choice. The freedom that learning to ride provided us with.

If an employee is fortunate enough to work in such a supportive culture which encourages ambition and talent to flourish – then it’s conceivable that challenge pursuance will be the norm.

With best wishes,