don’t screw up

Why do you do a good job?  What motivates you?  In the realm of live production, different things drive different people.  In the church setting, you have people who are motivated by the chance to help spread the Gospel through the use of technology.  Some people want to fly under the radar and not take risks.  Some are so burnt out, it is hard to figure out why they are still doing it at all.

But what about doing great work?  I mean doing some amazing work.  For those who are doing it, what motivates you to perform at the top of your abilities, to do your very best?

This is not a “Jesus” answer, question.  I’m not trying to over-spiritualize the topic here.

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

As a leader, I’m often thinking about how to get the best out of people.  In my experience with live production, I have noticed leaders motivating their production teams to great performance in one of two ways: out of a fear of failure, or freeing people up to bring their very best of who they are.

Let’s tackle the first one:  Doing great work by not failing

This is almost like the idea in sports, playing not to lose instead of playing to win.  Playing not to lose in a production setting means I’m just trying not to screw up or make a mistake.  I’m playing everything safe because I don’t want to cause something bad to happen.

If creating a distraction-free environment is one of the things you are trying to create, of course, you don’t want mistakes to happen.  We’re attempting to remove all obstacles from people’s experiences.  If you are a gifted technical artist, this should be one of your core values.  However, not making mistakes is not all there is.

We used to have a joke here that would involve someone saying right before we started an event “Don’t screw up!”.  It was meant to be funny, but as my wife would say, all kidding is a half-truth.

Whether we mean to or not, we had created a culture where fear of being yelled at was the motivation for doing your best work.  I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure nobody does their best work by wondering when they are going to screw up next.

I believe that doing great work comes from a much deeper place than the immediacy of potential failure.  We’ll talk about that in the next post.

As you lead your teams, what motivates them?  Is it a culture of fear of failure?

One Comment
  • Brent Richardson June 21, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Promiseland had a wee bit of a problem once. Every time a teacher would ask a question, the 5 yr olds would all shout “Jesus!” Promiseland kids, what’s your favorite color? Je… (you get the idea)

    But of course only 5 yr olds do that right? So, what motivates me to perform at my best? “Jesu….” ah, well, I need to get back to you on that.

    Some people really are motivated by being on the “high risk wire” where there is a huge amount stake. Maybe they like that kind of edgy, kind of cocky, “don’t screw up” approach. Me, not so much.

    Can’t wait for your next post, for I’m pretty sure you are going to touch on what brings out the best in me. More importantly, I have a hunch you will bring out what I can do to bring out the best in the team I’m a member of.

    Thanks!

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