Positive motivation.

Do you ever do the ‘right’ thing because you feel that someone is watching you or will find out if you don’t? I have grown up with this feeling, at all times, regardless of how secluded I am. It’s not a negative feeling. It’s a positive, invisible, driving force.

A community has institutionalized something similar. Instead of just punishing bad behavior, police are also tasked with awarding good behavior, which can be simply following the law, or going out of your way to help someone. (Source: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown, and here is an article with some more details about the practice). I like the image I imagine when I think of such a culture. I think this goes deeper than just doing it to get the reward. The reward means that you were noticed, which many people don’t feel on a regular basis. McKeown tells a story in Essentialism about a boy who received an award. He kept it rather than exchange the ticket for his reward. He told his foster mom that it was evidence someone thought he was worth something, and that was far more valuable than any material reward.

Can we create similar to help in triathlon training?

Group workouts may do just that. Do you work harder when you know people are watching? It wont always work, but the best coaches create the type of environment for you to work your best. I recently experienced this in Masters swimming. I have always been with coaches who write a workout on the board, and we mostly do our own thing. In my lane, the slow lane, we putz around at our pace while the other lanes are much farther along than us. Recently, one of the youth coaches started working with the adults. He managed to keep all abilities together by assigning different length workouts for different lanes; and then for speed work, he ran us on intervals that we could all keep up with. Somehow, pushing off the wall at the same time as all other lanes fostered a different and new feeling for me. We certainly couldn’t get behind at that point, and I was driven to work harder in a way that I hadn’t been in most previous workouts.

How do you use positive reinforcement to perform better? Whether in triathlon, or other areas of your life? Could you create positive reinforcement in an area you are struggling with?

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