Reward the Effort

“Reward the effort, not the result” ~Mel Robbins, “Take Control of Your Life”

This line really stuck with me from Mel Robbins audio book. It was in response to a session of a young lady who suffered from perfectionism. This stemmed back to when she was a child. She was a decent student – straight B’s – and her parents decided to try to use a trip as incentive – whichever of the children gets straight A’s will get a trip to Italy. She busted her ass off and got 7 A’s and one B… and her father’s reaction? “What the hell is that B doing there?”. Unsurprisingly, she developed an attitude of “If nothing is going to be good enough, then why bother try?”

The sad thing is, I see my husband in this. He told me a similar story from when he was at school – he was a decent student with; mostly B’s, and a C. He worked really hard to get the C up to a B, but in the process, one of the original B’s slipped to a C. It wasn’t a “good job for bringing up that grade”, it was a “what happened to that B?”. To this day, in his work, he has so much anxiety when things go wrong. If his boss/manager points out something he’s doing incorrectly or if he finds a mistake, it’s game over. He’s had so much anxiety, he’s pulled over on the side of the road on his way to work.

Some people may argue that he should go to the doctor to deal with his anxiety – but, as I’m discovering with this book, he doesn’t have an anxiety issue – he’s having a physical response to a past memory that creates anxiety in his body. When he’s in a good job, he’s fine. He’s a different person when he enjoys his work and he feels appreciated.

I know… don’t we all?

Sure, we all feel better when we’re in an environment that we enjoy and feel appreciated in, but depending on your upbringing, you may not have the response that my husband has. I know I don’t – but I have other issues based on how I was raised/things that were said, done, and implied to me around my body and relationship with diet and exercise.

The one thing that we have identified with my husband is that it all seems to surround his employment. He’s been stuck doing the same thing for 8 or so years and every employer he’s had treat their employees like shit. He’s gone through his apprenticeship, gotten his red seal, and yet it’s been nothing but a huge let down! We’ve identified this, yet there’s not much we can do about it; we need the paycheque and when it’s coming down to the wire that his EI is going to run out, he falls back on his training. He does what he HAS to do, not what he wants to do – and that part, not having a choice, is the kick in the nuts.

Thankfully that comes to an end in about 5 weeks when my husband will be leaving his job to start on a new path in a completely different career – which I won’t speak of in detail now, as that will come in about 7 weeks.

Through the last few months, our best friend and I have conversed in length about this which I have also conveyed to my husband. Our concern was that he was looking for happiness in an external factor – and happiness will never come from that. Happiness – true happiness – needs to come from what’s inside, not from something or someone from outside. We were concerned that he’d get into a new job and still feel the same. His thing is feeling like he’s contributing to a “bigger picture”. Working for someone else has turned bitter for him as they all treat their employees the same way: squeezing as much work out of them with as little compensation as possible. There’s a reason he’s worked with several different people at several different shops while in Courtenay – it was like a merry-go-round of staff turnover.

With that, I’d like to put in my two cents in regards to this. SHOP/BUSINESS OWNERS/MANAGERS: if you’re constantly needing to hire people and have a ton of staff turnover, stop blaming the people you hire, saying that they “can’t cut it” and  start looking at you, your shop, your policies, and ask yourself “what can I do to make people stay?”. If you’re treating people like shit, paying them shit, and acting like they’re disposable, you will have NO loyalty! And this is where my husband’s fault lies – he is too loyal, worried about how him leaving will affect the company even if it does his wellbeing harm. If you notice an employee making a lot of mistakes, instead of pointing out all of those mistakes, maybe take them aside and say something like “I see you’re making a lot more mistakes than usual and I just wanted to make sure everything is going okay with you”. Having an ounce of decency and actually seeming that you care can be a life-line to someone. Maybe they are struggling. Maybe they’re having problems at home or someone in their family is sick. Maybe they’re just having a rough time. You don’t know what people are going through. If you have happy employees, they will perform better and take less stress/sick days – and maybe you’ll have less staff turnover. Yes, time is money, but how much more will you have to spend if you’re constantly having to find new employees?!

Additionally, how hard is it to show a little appreciation to your employees?! Telling someone “good job” goes far. If you push and push and push your employees with no appreciation, eventually they WILL say “why bother?” and either quit or stop putting in any effort.

I’m lucky where I am at the moment – my work somewhat regularly gives us a day off in appreciation of our hard work. My past couple supervisors (both here and before we moved here) both expressed their appreciation to my hard work. It took them a couple minutes to say it, but it has always stayed with me. The sad thing is, when I tell my husband about these kind gestures, he often remarks “must be nice”. He’s had very few jobs that he’s had positive reinforcement like that. Most jobs, he only hears what he’s doing wrong, never when he’s doing good – and that’s a sad thing!

And this is where the quote from Mel Robbins comes in: reward the effort, not the results.

Do you really think pointing out a result will motivate someone? Even if it’s praising straight A’s, that’s reinforcing that only being “perfect” is good enough. That person will grow up with perfectionism and anxiety. REWARD THE EFFORT. Saying things like “I can see you’re working really hard” would be way more efficient than a results based comment – that person will be more likely to grow up with a “if I work hard, I will succeed” mentality. They focus on the hard work (effort) vs the result. Hard work becomes more important.

In my personal life, I’ve seen this around my dental hygiene. Brushing/flossing was never seen as a priority in my childhood. I don’t remember ever flossing and I remember going days without brushing. I know. Gross. I cringe at that now! When I got out on my own, I went over 10 years without a cleaning – probably closer to 12 years! Going to the dentist caused me insane anxiety (because of a horrible experience as a child) so I simply wouldn’t go. Getting into the military was a blessing as I HAVE to go to the dentist for an exam annually and I get cleanings at least 2-3 times a year. One of the first exams I went to, the dentist (who was military) was BRUTAL! You’d have thought I had killed someone the way he was talking to me! My cleanings were horrible – the hygienist was a complete butcher – they’d be done over 2 days and she’d use local anesthetic to freeze my mouth and she’d bare down on my teeth so hard that I couldn’t eat solid food for a couple of days following! You’d expect that with that type of treatment, I’d go out of my way to brush and floss really well to ensure my treatments would be easier to deal with. Nope. BUT, the next exam was by a civilian dentist and it was the COMPLETE opposite! He basically said that dental habits are established young and as an adult, it’s really hard to establish those habits. I know what I needed to do and nothing he said could force me to do them… well, let me tell you, after that exam, I felt more motivated to put in the effort to get better. I got better, but not until this past year has it gotten good and I’ve gotten positive reinforcement from the hygienist and that makes me want to try even harder.

I know we want our children or partners or employees to be successful, but look at your tactics; are they helpful or harmful?

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