Life Sucks…Poorly Motivated Without Proper Goal Setting

…is surely not your motto, otherwise you would not have ended up on a website about goal-setting. But according to David Logan from the University of Southern California for 2% of the US population “Life Sucks!” is their daily mantra. This is Stage 1: the lowest of 5 motivational stages described by Logan in his book called “Tribal Leadership”. Do you employ anyone who acts as if they believe this? If so they may need some help and support.

Most probably you do not; but what about those who are at Stage 2 – those who subscribe to the motto: “My life sucks!” According to Logan, this group comprises 25% of the working population. So it is quite likely that you work with or employ one off those poorly motivated, pessimistic individuals.

Things get a lot better in Stage 3, where people say “I am great…” but that’s usually followed by a unspoken “… but you are not!” About half the working population operates on this level. The benefit of Stage 3 is that it is future oriented: deferring immediate gratification to improve the future situation. The downside is that it´s also ‘ego oriented’ (“I am only great because you are not so great”).

Leaders in Stage 3 believe they can force their own goals down everyone else’s throat and they will happily swallow it. But this kind of operation is rarely effective and it can become expensive. You may be able to make people swallow by paying them (or by threatening refuseniks with the sack): so they might even smile as they swallow, but they will rarely digest.

Effective organizational goal setting occurs at Stage 4, where people say “We are great” – this is 22% of the workforce. Here, goals are not pushed down top to bottom, but developed and agreed collaboratively. It’s not a one-way street; rather it is a hub of ideas and insights. Stage 4 organizations outperform Stage 3 teams because their members actually have a personal commitment to the common goals. Stage 4 people genuinely want to perform and will put in the effort required to reach the organization’s goals. Monetary reward is a secondary factor – the satisfaction of achieving worthwhile results is much more important.

Stage 4 is surpassed only by Stage 5: the opposite extreme to “Life sucks!” Stage 5 people deeply believe that “Life is great!” It’s not even about winning – at Stage 5 there is no competition and no lonely winners: instead the focus is on cooperation so everyone wins. In Logan’s words: “People work together in innocent wonderment.” Stage 5 is extremely rare: only 2% of the workforce operates at this elevated level. It can only be reached by working through Stages 3 and 4.

Goalscape can help everyone in your organization to climb the ladder through these stages. It opens the door to a goal setting dialog and provides a clear, engaging format for discussing the real goals and values of the organization and the people within it. These are the foundations of a successful shared endeavor, and will help you to move to Stage 5. A organization that is driven by the belief that life is great, can achieve things that “level 1 to 4” organizations only dream about.

Watch this great TED Talk by David Logan, and check out Zappos – a company truly immersed in a stage 4 culture.

Marcus Baur

Marcus Baur

Marcus is the inventor of the Goalscape concept. After graduating in Architecture he sailed professionally, winning multiple international championships and becoming a double Olympian.

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