Question: How do you get four pre-teen girls, three of whom are your daughters, one a neighborhood friend of theirs, to help you clean the garage when they do not want to and they think that it is, “Not any fun!”? You do it by playing Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off and Style back-to-back-to-back-to-back, to motivate them. You do it by being the leader they need you to be and not the leader you were taught to be. Let me explain.
When I was growing up, a typical Saturday would involve chores such as cleaning out the garage or working in the yard. The day would start with my dad coming in and telling my two brothers and me that it was time for work, and we went to work. We really did not have a choice. That was what we did. It was not necessarily fun, but we were not there for fun, we were there to work. I am so thankful to my dad for helping me to develop a great work ethic, but I have found that doing it his way, the “old school way,” of motivating by fear and authority does not really work well with my kids (all girls). That, plus, I want to grow as a leader and show them that work can be fun and having a strong work ethic can be a way to deal with many challenges. I also want to cultivate in my daughters an inner motivation in the hope that they will feel real satisfaction from doing the best they can at every task no matter what the reward, and not because of fear or intimidation. I want to be a leader who practices all of those #leadershipflow traits that I talk about.
Now, I want to make it clear that my dad was great, he taught me many lessons including how to do hard work and really put your back into something. But, when I was growing up my dad taught me the same way his father taught him. I have tried his method. I have raised my voice, I have gritted my teeth, and barked orders to my girls. The reality has been that when I have done it, it did not create the powerful moods and emotions I wanted to instill in my daughters; the moods of ambition, joy, enthusiasm, and can-do. When I would do it my father’s way, it led to frustration, anger, and even sometimes tears.
That’s why I decided to try to motivate my daughters how they wanted to be motivated. That’s where Taylor Swift came in. I have noticed that my daughters really come alive, like most people, when there is powerful music to work to. So to my daughter’s surprise I downloaded Taylor Swift’s two newest songs, Shake it Off and Style and informed the girls that we were going to have fun and rock out while we cleaned the garage. Their first reaction was confusion, as they had “worked” with Dad before and most of the time it was not fun. They were also concerned that Dad was now listening to Taylor Swift. (If you can’t beat them, join them, plus they are really good, catchy songs). We cleaned the garage after about 8 repeats of the songs, much to my enjoyment and theirs. I felt they had started to learn that this work thing can be fun, and I noticed while we were cleaning that #leadershipflow was showing up. What a great feeling.
So why not try something new the next time you have work to do that may not be fun. Try to create an environment that will motivate your team, try to show up as the leader they need you to be. And, if all else fails, put on some Taylor Swift, and “Shake it Off!”