Education – Why Motivation Is Not Enough

During the Middle Ages, a knight was returning to the castle one evening after a long, hard day of skirmishes. His armor was dented, his helmet was askew, and his plume was broken off. Even his horse was limping.

The lord of the manor saw him coming and went out to greet him. “What happened, Sir Albert?” he asked.

The knight straightened himself up and said, “I have been striving on your behalf all day, robbing and pillaging and burning the towns of your enemies to the west.”

“You’ve been doing what?” asked the astonished nobleman. The knight repeated his statement louder and slower in case his old master couldn’t hear him.

“But I haven’t any enemies to the west,” cried the nobleman.

“Oh?” asked the knight. Then after a pause he said, “Well, you have now.”

There’s a moral to the story. The knight was motivated, but that wasn’t enough.

In fact, I tell my clients: Motivation is not enough. If you motivate an idiot, all you have is a motivated idiot.

You’ve also got to know something. You’ve got to know what you should be doing and how you should be doing it. That’s where the learning comes in. As Daniel Kim, a researcher at MIT, says, “Learning is increasing one’s ability to take effective action.” Not just any action.

And effective action always starts with education. The education you get from others and the education you get for yourself.

I’ve found that the highest rated companies … the ones where people want to work, want to stay, and want to give their very best … are the companies that make continual education a part of their culture. And the most successful people are the ones who make continual education a part of their life.

In particular, they do four things.


1. The Best Organizations Provide HUGE Amounts of Training.

The Container Store, for example, has made it Fortune magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Places to Work” for two years in a row.

One of their secrets is their massive training program. They provide 235 hours of training for every one of their first-year, full-time employees.

Compare that to the national average in the retail industry, where similar employees are given a mere seven hours of training.

No wonder the employee turnover rate in retail is about 100% while The Container Store averages a turnover rate of just 15-25%.

So if you want peak performance to be the norm in your organization, you’ve got to train, train, train.

John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach who led UCLA to nine NCAA championships, told me the same thing. When John and I were doing a program together, he said, “If I can prepare my five men to the best of their ability, they (the opposition) will never have a chance.”

(BTW: If you’re lucky enough to work in an organization that provides a HUGE amount of training … or even a little bit of training … take every class your organization makes available, even if you “heard it all before.” It speaks volumes about your character and makes you a more likely candidate for promotion.)


2. The Best Organizations Know That Training PAYS Off.

It pays off in recruitment. They know that ongoing education is one of the best ways to attract and keep the best employees. From their point of view, they can’t afford not to train their employees.

It also pays off in retention. According to research by psychologist Dr. Bev Smallwood, continuous learning is listed at or near the top when employees are asked what keeps them committed to an organization.

This is especially true if you’re working with some of the 83 million millennials in the U.S. (or 1.8 billion millennials in the world). It may sound ridiculous, but if you want to keep them, train them for another job.

You see, younger employees don’t plan on staying with one company their entire career. So, ironically, the way to keep them is help them acquire the skills that will make them more marketable later on. The more they can learn in your company, the more they’ll want to stick around.

But it’s also true for workers of any age. Saul Gellerman, author of Motivation in the Real World: The Art of Getting Extra Effort from Everyone–Including Yourself, shares this secret. Until retirement age nears, he says workers care more about where their jobs are going to lead them than whether or not their jobs are “fair” or “pay enough.”

That’s why so many workers are willing to tolerate undesirable jobs. They’ll tolerate these jobs if they believe it will lead to something better. And ongoing education is the best way to meet that need.

The question is … are you or your organization providing that kind of training?


3. The Best Organizations Avoid the SUPREME Cost.

When I’m “selling” my training and seminars to an organization, some of them will ask, “What if we train our people and they leave?” I tell them that would certainly hurt and it would cost you something.

But then I ask them, “What if you don’t train your people and they stay?”

That would be far more expensive than losing an occasional employee. Indeed, it would be the supreme cost … having a workforce that is under-trained and, therefore, almost always under-performing.

Now I realize some of you readers work in organizations that don’t provide as much education as you would like or as much as you need. That’s life. If that’s the case, then you must do what the most successful people do, and that is…


4. Invest in Your Own Education.

You need to invest in your brain the same way a company invests in research and development.

You need to anticipate future skill requirements and get the appropriate training. If your organization doesn’t provide lots and lots of quality training, go out and take some classes on your own nickel. Invest in yourself, your education, and your future.

In fact, about half of the people who attend my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program do exactly that. They spend their own money to invest in their own future.

Eileen Zierman did that and later she told me: “I thought if I could spend lots of dollars on fishing trips, I could sprout my wings and learn more about relationships, myself, and work — and the money spent would be worth it. Well, I went and I’m doing the work and it’s working. What a blessing from God.”

Eileen continued, “Previously, I was scared to death when someone mentioned goals. I ran the other direction. The fear is gone and now I have them. I have been doing my affirmations since the Journey and they are working. I walk down the hallways reciting them quietly to myself. At home or in my car I say them loudly. I’m getting things done that I have put off for many years. I feel good about myself. I’m excited about learning and it feels WONDERFUL.”

In my dictionary, she’s a champion. And I hope the same thing can be said for you. You actively invest your time and your money in your own education, your relationships, your career, your family, and your very future.

In fact, get smart and register for my next Journey coming to Minneapolis, MN on May 4-5, 2017 while the $500 Early-Bird Discount is still in effect. Click here to register now.

One of my friends, Lee Labrada, best-selling author, CEO of a nutritional foods company, and the former Mr. Universe says, “The very essence of becoming a champion is connected to education.”

As Lee says, “The champion walks a path of never-ending self-improvement. A true champion is always looking for ways to improve.”


Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 874 – Motivation Is Not Enough