I’m not moving until I can see the cheese
And Google is not coming without lots of keywords. This post is about MOTIVATION and all the misunderstandings and controversies that seem to swirl about us endlessly.
1 Motivation is distance to your goal
The mouse runs faster when it sees the cheese!
Motivation is not constant. We aren’t motivated by cheese. We are motivated by distance to the cheese.
Motivation gets stronger when we can see what we want and our goal comes tantalizing closer as we move toward it.
2 Motivation blinds us
When the mouse sees the cheese, it moves towards it . . . and the mouse trap.
That’s why business people and politicians like greedy people! So easy to dazzle. So easy to trap.
3 Motivation is never so strong that we ignore a better cheese
So we put the cheese where the mouse can see it, and the mouse takes off . . . Will it keep going, no matter what?
Yes, . . . unless we put a better cheese next to a dull cheese, or a duller cheese a little closer. Our mouse is as fickle as the English weather. It doesn’t matter whose day it spoils, the mouse will go where it is easier or better.
We make rapid calculations about what we will gain and change direction in a flash!
4 Motivation makes us stupid
Yet, when someone moves the cheese, we are temporarily confused. The trouble is that seeing the cheese focused our attention. And we forgot everything else. We forgot that other cheese exists. We forgot there are other routes to the cheese.
Take away the cheese suddenly, and we get cross and disoriented. Though there are plenty of alternatives, for a moment we can’t see them or remember them.
5 Motivation needs to be simple
And if we put two equally attractive cheeses in opposite directions, one to the left and one to the right, we get a confused mouse.
Come on cats, now is your chance.
Worse, if two or more mice are discussing which way to go, we may be there all week.
We need to toss two coins – the first to see if we go together or in different directions, and the second to see which way we go. Most times we just argue. We don’t think of laying out the problem so tidily. Two cheeses – we can have one or the other. Shall we go together or not? If not, who goes first and in which direction? If we are going together, in which direction?
Action is hard . . .
We can’t move, we won’t get moving, until our choices are simple and the end is in sight. We are easily distracted by alternatives and paralyzed by thought.
. . . and action it is also dangerous
We are easily entrapped by our greed – or to be kind to ourselves – easily engaged by the plain fun of scampering towards our cheese and wolfing it down.
Someone has to manage the cheese
We do have to work hard to keep the cheese-system simple and to fend off distractions. While we are busy managing the cheese, we make ourselves vulnerable because we are just as blinkered in that goal as the cheese-chasers are by the cheese-chase.
So we need people to manage the people who manage the cheese
This is beginning to sound like a nursery-rhyme.
We do need lookouts to watch out for when we are getting blinkered.
We also need our lookouts to challenge us and to ask why we need to chase this cheese at all? Well, the answer is as always, for the fun of it. We’ll chase something, just for the fun of it. So, the question is which cheese will we chase? And who will be sufficiently above the action to referee the debate and not get blinded by the thrill of the chase?
We do need some people to manage the people who manage the people who chase the cheese. That will be their job, their only job. Because if they get involved in the action, they will be blinkered too. We will give them their share of the cheese if they ask us, over and over again, whether we should be chasing the cheese at all.
We must have these people. Or the cats will have us
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