Hands up who has not at least seen one Pixar movie in their life? There probably isn’t a lot of hands up as with worldwide box office totals approaching 10 billion dollars. Most of us have been touched by the creativity, imagination and heart that is at the core of each of these films.
Behind these movies lies one of the most creative and focused companies out there. In the book Creativity Inc by co-founder Ed Catmull you get the inside look at what goes behind creating a successful, creative and inspired team.
Here are 4 examples from Pixar to help if you lead a team of any sort or to stay motivated and inspired:
1. Trusting those around you
Pixar’s approach to the team aspect is to trust in a great team. Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.
If you have a team that works for you whether it’s in a company aspect, a sport, volunteers or anything where people have to work together, you have to trust in the people you’ve assembled and let them do what they were chosen for. Micromanaging and always breathing down the neck of people is the quickest way to kill motivation and productivity. The team member’s new approach becomes that of avoiding workplace stress as opposed to being productive and creative.
“Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.” – Warren Bennis
2. Preventing risk is not always a good thing
When leading a good team that team should have a sense of freedom to take chances and not have to worry about the potential negative outcomes. Great ideas need to come from thinking outside the box and that is a key fundamental in the success of Pixar.
Those who manage a team shouldn’t always try to prevent risk. The manager should be creating an environment to make it safe for others to take risks. The fruit is at the end of the branch and you can’t get out to grab it without having to take that risk. Sometimes you need to go out on that limb and a safe environment needs to be created in order for those around us to reach their best potential.
3. Always be open to listen
Another concept that is at the core of Pixar’s success is their willingness to listen to all employees, no matter how far down the totem pole they are. This creates a culture where they can learn what is working and quickly eliminate what is not.
In my own experience working with a team in a fitness/gym setting, I found that the best way to keep things moving forward is to listen to what is working well as far as creating training programs and more importantly, remove things that are preventing people from getting results. When you create an open dialog you get a much better picture of what is happening on a day to day basis instead of getting caught up in the big picture all the time. It’s that day to day dynamic that is key in making true progress with any sort of group.
“If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talking.” – Robert Baden-Powell
4. Honor the viewpoints of others
This piggybacks off of point 3 in that you really need to hear what the people around you are saying and Catmull admits this is one of the hardest things to put into practice throughout a company. When people see things or ideas that challenge our accustomed way of thinking we not only tend to resist them but, completely ignore them!
This is called “confirmation bias” and it is what happens when people favor information, true or not, that confirms what they already believed. It is very important to realize how different the experiences and perspectives of others are than our own. So learning to ignore our own bias and see the viewpoint of others is crucial in enriching and progressing a team and creating great work.
Wrapping it up
There is a lot more to Pixar than just Woody and Buzz. Their success is by no accident but, a carefully developed plan of attack that is always evolving and improving. By taking some of these key lessons we can apply them to any team dynamic, whether you run a Fortune 500 company or coach a little league team.
The ability to inspire and motivate is a great gift but one that needs to be constantly honed and sharpened. When you have the ability to bring the best out of others it leads to a successful team but brings the best out of yourself as well.
Thank you for reading my article! What inspires you most about Pixar?
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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