I have two priorities in life these days, my work (Spindle) and my family. I’ve put almost everything else (except maybe The Packers) to the side since I have two young kids and a young business. Something really cool has happened over the last couple months that brought both worlds together and made me think harder about how motivation works for both five year olds and adults.

Sight Word Maniac

According to his teacher, my son, Marcus, has become a “sight word maniac.” He didn’t start off that way, in fact he seemed somewhat uninterested in reading for most of the school year. In November, he learned that there were different levels of sight word lists and that he could “level up” if he memorized the 20 words on each list. He was on list one and not focusing much on advancing until he realized that friends in the class had already moved up to harder lists. The little guy had an “aha” moment and over the next three days, he completed lists 1, 2 and 3. This was only the beginning as he and a couple of his maniac friends have now completed all 12 of the lists created for their grade. The best part is that they are still hungry – I actually created list 13 & 14 for them last week and will likely need to do 15-20 in short order. I am obviously excited for my kid, but, what really got me thinking was how often we see this same pattern with members of Spindle.

In our world, it often looks more like this:

Goals often develop as people build consistency with their training.

Goals often develop as people build consistency with their training.

Day 1 - Jane starts training with no real, concrete goal except to get in shape and start exercising. She is starting at “Point A” with the goal of being “Not Point A.”

Day 60 – Jane starts to realize she is getting stronger and is seeing some progress in different areas. She sees her friend, Tracy, do an unassisted pull up and thinks “I want to do that.”

This is an interesting point where people find an initial spark of motivation in different ways. Sometimes it is through seeing other people do something great and sometimes it is from their own experience in feeling strong. However it happens - hopefully it can be nurtured and supported from there!

Day 61 – Jane now has something to focus on and begins learning more about pull ups and making sure it is integrated into her training.

Day 120 – Jane, after plenty of practice, tries and fails her first pull up attempt, but was very close.

Day 135 – Jane completes her first full pull up and rings the gong with the entire facility cheering her on!! Hooray!

Here is where things can get really interesting. We have seen, on many occasions, when someone hits that first level of competence, intrinsic motivation gets even stronger. If you look at my son’s situation, it took him over a month to pass list one and then, from there, it took him two months to get to list 14. What we often see happen next with our members is this:

Day 175 – Jane completes 5 pull ups in a row

Once someone realizes what they can accomplish, they just keep stacking wins and stay super focused. Often times, it increases motivation in other areas of their life too - this is the most exciting part of being in this industry for me.

Motivation

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If you look at each piece of what we know impacts motivation (hat tip: habitry.com) it is present in both situations.

Autonomy – Jane and Marcus decided that they valued progress in pull ups and sight word lists, respectively, and chose to act on it on their own.

Competence – Both of them experienced increased intrinsic motivation after their seeing concrete evidence that they were getting better at something.

Belongingness – They both were inspired by individuals around them that held the same values of progress. For Jane, it was Tracy and the community cheering her on. For Marcus, it was his sight word maniac friends that keep progressing list after list.

So if this is you - the person diddlying (not a real word) around with their training without real focus, its okay!

What can you take away from this and use?

Find a place that provides the support & guidance you need and keep showing up! You never know when your intrinsic motivation will develop, but if you are not consistently in a situation where you can find it, it may never come.

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