Doing Your Best

carrot-incentiveA few weeks ago, a friend of mine was pondering how there was a difference between the college field goal record and the pro record.  The difference is 5 yards, in favor of the college record rather than the pro record.  Anyone who watches Monday night football saw a 61 yard field goal made in the Detroit/Baltimore game as well.

So, why the difference?  Most people would assume that the pro record would be greater than the college record.  Setting them side by side seems to beg the question, what causes people to do their best?  How is it that players making millions of dollars for playing struggle to make achievements that those who are younger and are playing for tuition and potential future glory have made?

I have to check myself when I think this through because my first thought is that the professional athletes have become lazy.  They’ve signed their contracts, locking in their multi-year, multi-million dollars and there is nothing more to prove.  They have been validated by the contract and they can coast.  There are some in the world of baseball who believe that Robinson Cano was doing that with the Yankees and believe that he will continue to do it in Seattle where he has been signed to huge contract.

But is it really lazyness?  Could it be that there is a lack of incentives?  What would drive someone in the professional world to seek out conquering a record?  What would drive someone in the college world to seek out conquering a record?

I’m not sure about you, but when I was in college, I thought that I was 15 feet tall and bulletproof.  It seemed like nothing could hurt me, that I was indestructible.  That’s foolish to think, but that was the reality of where I was at the time.  Once I moved past that stage of life, I realized how vulnerable and mortal that I really was, but in the thick of it, there is a tendency to be completely blinded by pride and self-centeredness.

The deeper question through all of this is what drives us to do our best?  What kinds of things spur us along?  What can make the difference between doing something mediocre versus doing something great?

Incentives.  What incentives are offered to us that lead us to perform at our maximum capacity?  What drives us to look to “break records” in what we do?  Is there a consistent incentive?

I tend to think that people will perform based on incentives that are particular to each individual.  While there may be overlap here and there, I think that you may see a varied response across the board.  For some, it may strictly be monetary.  For others, it might be relational.  For some, it might be about long-term goals and achievement.  For others, it might simply be about recognition.

How about you?  What drives you to do your best?  What incentives cause you to put in your full effort, or even the 110% effort?  I am curious to see what overlap there is from person to person and what distinct differences there are as well.


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