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Sink or Swim? How to Bring out the Best in People

Eilidh Milnes

"I think we can improve that breast-stroke," he said. I spluttered, stopped and looked at John in surprise. We'd been chatting pool-side. I had no idea that this stranger was an expert swimming teacher. 

At the age of four, my big sisters had thrown me out of a rowing boat into the River Clyde with the instruction, "Swim!" So I am totally self-taught. My primary goal then had simply been survival not perfection!

Of course John was right when he observed that my technique left room for improvement. He said, "You need to learn to breathe properly, to glide, to position your hands, to improve your leg kick and angle your feet for maximum results." I was overwhelmed by all these instructions! However I knew it was only temporary. Overwhelm always is. The trick is to make a start and I began with my breathing.

Motivation is a strange animal. Why is it that some people bring out the best and know how to get extra oomph from the people they lead? Often they possess less raw intelligence; yet have the happy knack of inspiring their teams. John was such a man. On the other hand, we all know of someone who seems to bring out the worst in us. The managers whose pep talks turn into lectures; quite often leaving us confused and intimidated. 

My work as a coach has led me to realise that motivation is an inside andoutside job. Yes motivation has to come from within, however think when you've performed at your best: was it not thanks in a considerable degree to the influence of some inspiring person? It might have been a lecturer, a parent or a boss. 

In this case it was John. He made swimming fun and pushed me far beyond my capabilities and expectations. I welcomed his suggestions and am now eager to put his techniques into practice. John used many methods to motivate including a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement. He praised my backstroke for example and explained the benefits of goggles. Here are my super seven motivation tips.

How to Bring Out the Best in People

  1. Expect high standards 
  2. Recognise achievement 
  3. Applaud progress
  4. Encourage collaboration 
  5. Support the interests of others
  6. Study the other person's needs 
  7. Allow for storms - failure is not fatal 
In addition, keep your own motivation high and resource the best tools. Learn to channel the already existing energies of your employees, students or family members. People don't enjoy being lazy or bored. They welcome the manager who can show them how to enjoy their job, the teacher who can impart the love of learning, the parent who can make household chores and homework worthwhile and fun. 

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It's always refreshing to find a fresh outlook on tried and tested methods. Do you have Divas in your life? If so, you're not alone. My speaking colleague, Laura Baxter is offering a free copy of her new book. She talks about relationships from the perspective of a professional actress and opera singer. Laura's offer is valid till Friday 30th June.  Download this Kindle version of "Dealing with Divas and Other Difficult Personalities" A Mindful Approach to Improving Relationships in Your Business or Organisation. 

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Bon Weekend when it comes!

I'm off to buy swimming goggles! ✅  

Photo credit #Unsplash