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How to keep motivated
Like most people who decided to stay in London for the duration of the Olympics, I have just been astounded by the atmosphere in the city. In addition, I have been so humbled by the dedication and brilliance of most of the athletes in sports that I know very little about. There is just not the same hype that exists around, say, Premier League footballers, not to mention the relatively meagre financial rewards. Most footballers tell us that they love the game and not the money, but sometimes this can be slightly hard to believe given footballers’ contract wranglings and occasionally unbecoming conduct.
So what motivates the Brownlee brothers or Mo Farah? Dan Ariely, a professor at Duke University, and James Heyman, a professor at the University of St. Thomas, explored the consequences of financial reward and motivation in this study. They asked participants to drag a computerised circle into a square on the same screen as many times as they could within five minutes. Some participants got $5, some got 50 cents, and some were asked to do it free of charge. On average, the $5 group dragged 159 circles. The 50 cents group managed 101 circles. The group that was not paid but asked to do it as a favour, meanwhile, dragged 168 circles.
What does this mean for someone exploring motivation and financial reward? Certainly, we can assume that the link between compensation for one’s services and subsequent performance is less straightforward than we might imagine; when it comes to sport, we can see that pride, passion and a desire to do well for yourself are all just as key to achieving great things as the luxuries given to footballers and their ilk.
So can we all learn a thing or two from gold medallists such as Jade Jones and Nicola Adams, under-funded and unheralded before the Olympics but fully committed to success? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you think that I am getting carried away! Enjoy the closing ceremony – I can’t wait!
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