Don't Send Your Ducks to Eagle School
by Jim Rohn
The first rule of management is this: Don't send your ducks to eagle school. Why? Because it won't work. Good people are found, not changed. They can change themselves, but you can't change them. If you want good people, you have to find them. If you want motivated people, you have to find them, not motivate them.
I picked up a magazine not long ago in New York that had a full-page ad in it for a hotel chain. The first line of the ad read, "We do not teach our people to be nice." Now that got my attention. The second line said, "We hire nice people." I thought, What a clever shortcut!"
Motivation is a mystery. Why are some people motivated and some are not? Why does one salesperson see his first prospect at seven in the morning while the other sees his first prospects at 11 in the morning? Why would one start at seven and the other start at 11? I don't know. Call it "mysteries of the mind."
I give lectures to a thousand people at a time. One walks out and says, "I'm going to change my life." Another walks out with a yawn and says, "I've heard all this stuff before." Why is that?
The wealthy man says to a thousand people, "I read this book, and it started me on the road to wealth." Guess how many of the thousand go out and get the book? Answer: very few. Isn't that incredible? Why wouldn't everyone go get the book? Mysteries of the mind.
To one person, you have to say, "You'd better slow down. You can't work that many hours, do that many things, go, go, go. You're going to have a heart attack and die." And to another person, you have to say, "When are you going to get off the couch?" What is the difference? Why wouldn't everyone strive to be wealthy and happy?
Chalk it up to mysteries of the mind and don't waste your time trying to turn ducks into eagles. Hire people who already have the motivation and drive to be eagles and then just let them soar.
A somewhat controversial viewpoint in these days of political correctness where one cannot even openly have the age-old Nature versus Nurture debate. It can be seen as pessimistic but another way to look at it is as an acknowledgement and celebration of individual differences.
Sometimes, in our focus on solving problems of poor performers, we tend to ignore extracting the best out of high performers.
An even better interpretation it is to look at it as personality aspects of the same individual. Instead of focusing on eliminating weaknesses it is better to build on the strengths. This is a management idea gaining force recently, endorsed strongly by Marcus Buckingham (formerly head of Gallup) in his books.