A young man finished the first pay period at his first real job and received a paycheck. This was more than he had ever earned in one week’s time and yet, years later the amount he earned would seem insignificant to him. However, this was his first real paycheck. He unfolded the paper to see the itemized damages as far as taxes were concerned. At the bottom of the tally was his weekly take-home pay. He was on his way . . .
An older salesman with the firm approached the young man and asked, “How’d it feel to get your first paycheck?”
The young man smiled. “It was great,” he said.
“That’s what we come here for,” said the older salesman.
According to a website known as Statista, as of May 2021, there are 126.58 million full-time employees in the United States. Whether this number is accurate or not is unimportant and for this idea, I would like to focus on one specific area: The reward system and the rewards of working.
There are people who go to work simply because of their paycheck. This is how they pay their bills. This is how they pay for food or keep a roof over their head. For some people, their job is just a job. For others, this is the way they earn their living and for many with percentages that vary, there are a majority of people who are unsatisfied with their work life — and for them, the only reward is a paycheck at the end of their pay period.
Now, before going forward with this idea, I would like to go back to a young idea from when I was a child. I want to rewind back to when I was running around on the playground. I can remember a television commercial for a shoe store called Buster Brown. I remember the sneakers they sold and the name of them too. They were called Zips. I was a child of course and as a child, I thought as children do, which means that like the commercial, I believed the sneakers would make me run faster and jump higher.
Opening the box and trying on the shoes was no different than when I was a young salesman and unfolded my first paycheck. Although the rewards are different, my receptors are the same. Because similarly, when I unfolded my first paycheck, I swore I could jump higher and run faster.
It is easy though to be lost or stuck in the humdrum of an uninspired work life. It is easy to become almost mechanical or machine-like at work; there’s no zest, no love for your craft, you’re tired all the time and watching the clock; there’s no enjoyment or excitement and eventually, even the rewards from your paycheck come to the point of diminishing returns. It is also easy to give in to fears and social anxieties such as insecurity and the worry that someone can come in and do what you do better, faster and with more charisma. Still, each day is the same routine of clock in and clock out — and for the majority of the working world, this has become the norm.
But what if there was a way to change this?
One of my first attempts at a sales job was for a door to door sales company. I walked through towns selling low-priced items. I sold calculators, pens and little calendars. The job was not for me; however, there was a lesson that I recall that has stayed with me until this day.
Each morning began with a sales meeting. And each morning, one of the two sales managers would attempt to motivate their crew of salesmen. They would use terms like, “Juice by that,” and have people chanting, “Juice, Juice, Juice!” to both incite and incentivize the small crowd of young sales people.
One morning, a sales manager brought up a young man and sat him down in a chair in front of all of the other sales crew. He asked about the sales from his previous day, which were unfortunately low. The young man answered, “I didn’t do so hot.”
“Are you going to sell out today,” asked the manager and to explain, selling out meant that we sold all of our items.
With a nervous smile, the young salesman answered, “I’m going to do my best”
“Juice by that,” said the manager and he rewarded him with a positive affirmation.
“What incentives do you have to sell out today?”
“I want to make money,” answered the salesman.
“Do you want to make a lot of money?”
Of course the answer was “Yes.”
The young man was still nervous.
“What if I gave you this,” said the manager while taking out a stack of money.
“This is $5,000.” said the manager while tossing the stack of crisp new bills on the salesman’s lap.
“Would you be able to sell out then?”
The salesman’s eyes opened with delight. He was excited.
“What about now?” asked the manager as he threw another stack of money on the salesman’s lap.
“That’s ten thousand dollars in your lap. Would you sell out if I gave you this?”
The exercise continued until there was $20,000 in the man’s lap.
The crowd was excited and all of the salesmen in the audience were screaming and chanting, “Juice, juice, juice!”
“Now go and make this happen,” said the sales manager.
So what did he do?
He appealed to our urgent sense of reward.
He tapped into our need for thrill and victory.
He enticed us with the ideas of success and achievement.
No differently than the commercial for Buster Brown’s sneakers enticed me to want to run faster and jump higher.
The mind is an interesting machine. We think. We move. We taste and we smell. We hear and we speak. We have countless abilities that extend far beyond our beliefs. In fact, it is estimated that the average person makes 35,000 simple decisions in a day. Imagine that? Regardless of right or wrong, still, to make 35,000 of anything in one day’s time is certainly an impressive number. But wait, how can we entice and incentivize ourselves to find that sense of motivation on a daily basis?
Fast forward a few decades from my time as a kid in a suit, I was working the morning shift as a start-up engineer in a commercial office building. Each day, I came through the doors of the building at approximately 5:00AM and each day, I noticed a man in his office who lived with physical challenges. Walking was a challenge and lifting was a challenge, and yet, each day without complaint, this man came to work. He was always polite and always working, setting up the mailroom and preparing for the day. He never complained. He was never rude or short-tempered. In fact, if anyone had something to be angry about, it would be this man. He had trouble walking. His basic motor skills were extremely challenged; however, his mind was clear and he was exceptionally smart.
One day, I waited for him and held the door. This took a while but I waited anyway.
When the security guard asked me “Why?” I nearly lost myself.
“Because that’s what I was taught to do.” is what I said.
This man was more than a man to me. He was a hero because here I am with all of my abilities, both physical and otherwise, and I often found myself unhappy or complaining.
I held the door because he inspired me. I held the door because I admired this man. I held the door, not because this man needed me to. No, instead, I held the door out of respect because he was one of the greatest and strongest people I ever met — and yet, he never even knew my name.
I write this idea to appeal to a simple nature. The reward and the need to feel, be and want the thrill of success and achievement is the key to personal promotion. I suppose a man by the name of Felix Baumgartner would understand this
Ever hear of him?
This man broke records. He dove from the boundary of space and fell at speeds that broke the sound barrier. Felix fell and then opened his parachute but before this, he was lifted in a tiny space pod. He stepped out and looked down at our world below him. He told the command station, “I wish you could see what I can see.” He said, “Sometimes, you have to get up really high to see how small we are. Then Felix saluted the camera and said, “I’m coming home.”
This man jumped from space and successfully landed on the ground.
I have been talking to you about ways to “Be the Better and Embrace the Culture,” but to do so, we have to incentivize ourselves and each other to both Be the Better and Embrace the Culture.
What did the sales manager do? He introduced people to the possibility of financial success.
What did the Buster Brown commercial do? This introduced the possibility of me running faster and jumping higher.
I have been privy to different self-help and transformational groups and out of all, I can say that shame-based or fear-based programs are less successful than encouraging and empowering cultures. Introduce people to their ability. Show them what they are capable of. Empower one another to grow, build, be, do and if necessary, encourage each other to dismantle old or unhelpful habits that keep us from our best possible self. Be like Felix. Be like the man who came to work every day. Be like the old Zips commercial and regardless of any challenges, show up and be the best you possible.
The great thing about this idea is it almost comes with a money back guarantee . . .
If you give it all you have and work at this to find your best source of inspiration and if you are not satisfied with the results or you are not happy, then don’t worry . . .
You can always have a mundane life for free.
By the way, it’s been a long time since I had that pair of sneakers from Buster Brown but no matter what my age is, I can always use that feeling I had when I bought my first pair of brand new sneakers.
What about you?