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Bringing Out The Best In People

How To Enjoy Helping Others Excel

By Alan Loy McGinnis
The Big Idea
Almost everyone needs to be a motivator in one way or another. You may be a parent who
wants to motivate your children to do better in school, or a boss who wants to encourage
employees to improve productivity or quality of work. You may be a coach, a teacher, a
manager, a leader, or simply a friend who wants to help someone lose weight, get over a
personal slump or other crisis.

But have you ever wondered why you sometimes can't seem to get through to the people you
want to motivate? Do you wonder why some people fail and others succeed in bringing out the
best in others? If you want to improve your motivational skills, “Bringing Out The Best In Others”
by Alan Loy McGinnis is the book for you. In this book, McGinnis shares the 12 principles for
motivating people that you can apply in your family, work, and other areas of life.
I.The Longing For Inspiration

The first thing you need to know is that almost everyone wants to be inspired. All behavior is
caused, and everyone is motivated. Most people are not lazy or lethargic by nature, in fact most
people always have enormous energies to do what they want. The key to motivating people,
then, is to learn how to channel already existing energies within people into worthwhile

Most people will welcome the manager who can teach them to enjoy their work, or the teacher
who will impart a love of learning. Most people will welcome a leader who can inspire them to

You can be this leader if you learn to apply and live the 12 principles for bringing out the best in
II. Inspiring Change

Most of us do want to change people. But how can we motivate them to change without
manipulating or bullying them. How can one be a helping, inspiring leader and still respect
people and leave them free?

Put yourself in the role of clarifier. Allow people to assume responsibility for the changes they
want to make. Ask questions like:

 How would you like to change?

 What would it take to make you happy?
 In what ways do you want to modify your behavior?

Allow people to set their own goals, and assume ownership of such goals. In this way, they
become more committed to achieving them, and will strive to work to be consistent in keeping
such commitments. This shows people the great power that can be gained from setting goals for

This also sets the stage for changes in self-perception, of seeing themselves differently, more
positively and more confidently. When we set concrete objectives and determine a definite road
map for getting there, it can be transformational.

III. 12 Rules For Bringing Out The Best In People

1. Expect The Best Of The People You Lead/Motivate

Attitude is everything. In the simplest terms, the people who like people and who believe that
those they lead have the best of intentions will get the best out of them. People have a way of
becoming what you encourage them to be– not what you nag them to be.

Conversely, if you adopt a negative attitude and believe the worst of people, you become a
police-type leader who is always on the lookout for mistakes. As a result, you become more
likely to see people's worst sides; the people you lead become defensive and self-protective.
Instead of encouraging people's potential or hidden talents, you dampen or discourage them.

Take the example of a child who was caught stealing by her/his parent. If the parent says,
“You're a thief, and from now on, I'll be watching you”, this may be the surest way of making him
steal more and actually turning him into a thief.

If, on the other hand, the parent says, “This was not like you at all. We need to return what you
took and clear this up, but we're not going to make a big deal of it. What you did was wrong and
you know it was wrong, but we're sure you're not going to do it again,” the child will, most
probably, never steal again.

By assuming a negative attitude and reflecting back to people all the data about their
weaknesses, you put them in touch with their faults and their behavior becomes worse. By
assuming a positive attitude and concentrating on their strengths, you put them in contact with
their good attributes and their behavior becomes better.
Believe in people. Always believe that people have the best of intentions. Believe that people
can change, and change for the better. Treat them with this positive attitude, show that you
have high expectations of them and equally sure that they are capable of reaching them, and
more often than not, people will live up to them. And then, try to create an environment in which
people not only can discover their gifts but also develop them.

By looking at and treating people positively, we also help them develop a more positive self-
concept or self-image.

2. Make A Thorough Study Of The Other Person's Needs

Always begin with the needs of the other person. A good motivational plan needs to be based
on a thorough study of the needs of the people you want to motivate. Different people have
different needs. Real winners succeed by learning the needs of others, and then appealing to
those needs. You cannot assume you know other people's needs. You need to ask and listen.

You also need to know about the other person's beliefs. So much of a person's emotional life
and behavior stems from the convictions at the core of his or her existence. All people have
belief systems, however buried, and until we get some idea of this, until we learn what people
value and what they want in life, we cannot expect to build a successful plan for motivating

3. Establish High Standards For Excellence

While the first two rules emphasize treating people positively and encouragingly, as well as
prioritizing their needs, the third rule underscores the need to set high standards. Being tough
shows people that you care. That's why the easy teacher or the sloppy boss never gets
respected – they obviously do not care about excellence or about people. And though we may
have squirmed under hard teachers, we usually look back with gratitude to their persistence that
we use our potential.

The hands-off approach does not work at home anymore than in the classroom or workplace.
Most studies show that parents who run a tight ship and who are fairly strict produce the most
secure children. Kids may complain about the rules, but they usually grow up more ambitious,
happier, and better-adjusted.

If you want to show you care about your family or your staff, then you care about how
successful they are, and you devote time and energy to helping them learn to excel.

Setting high standards for excellence also provides direction for people, as well as goals to work
for. At the same time, make sure that you set realistic, achievable standards and expectations of

In setting high standards, you also need to deal with situations when people do not live up to
them. Keep in mind the following when you need to do this: deal with it immediately, confirm the
facts and make sure your information is correct, be very specific in telling people what they have
done wrong, limit your criticism/reprimand to their act or behavior, not to their motives or
character, and don't be afraid to show your feelings – frustration, anger, annoyance.

Also, if you reprimand, you need to be prepared to be unpopular with the people you give the
reprimands to. Remember that you need to be firm as this will inspire confidence in you.
Leadership does not mean winning popularity contests. Demanding leadership is always the
most compelling and the most successful.

4.Create An Environment Where Failure Is Not Fatal

It is the ability to fail that makes for lasting success. As a leader, parent, or friend, you need to
teach people that mistakes or failures do not signify the end of the world, that they need to learn
from their mistakes and how to keep from quitting.

How can you do this? One way is through personal example. Let them see you fail, and show
them how you handle failure. Richard J. Needham says, “Strong people make as many and as
ghastly mistakes as weak people. The difference is that strong people admit them, laugh at
them, learn from them. That is how they become strong.”

Help your people handle failure and/or rejection. Provide a secure environment, a safe refuge,
and do everything possible to get them back on their feet.

So while setting high standards, you need to be prepared to help those who fail to live up to
them initially and nurture them into trying again and again until they succeed.

5.If They Are Going Anywhere Near Where You Want To Go, Climb On Other People's
John Lubbock once said that it is important not so much that every child should be taught as
that every child should be given the wish to learn. This means that motivation does not only
mean pushing people to do better, but instilling in people's minds the drive to learn and succeed
so that they will continue to do so, even when you are no longer there to push them.

This means getting interested in what they are interested in, showing enthusiasm in what they
are enthusiastic about, and encouraging people to pursue their own interests and goals.

6.Employ Models To Encourage Success

Great motivators have always been good storytellers, for they know that people are more easily
influenced by individualized examples and experiences than by general principles.

Stories of other people convince us because they appeal to our hearts rather than our heads.
They appeal to the subconscious rather than the conscious mind, and motivation is basically the
heightening of emotion.

Provide the message that if other great people have achieved success, your people can do it,
too. Ultimately, this contributes to creating an atmosphere of enthusiasm and hope in your
family or group.

7.Recognize And Applaud Achievement

Praise or positive reinforcement is an essential element in motivating people. But be sure that
you reinforce specific behavior, which is different from providing general encouragement. When
you praise good quality, you ensure the repetition of such effort.
Reinforcing positive behavior should be done as follows:

 hand out commendations in public, as private praise is not as effective

 use every success as an excuse for celebration
 employ some gesture to give weight to your commendation
 put your compliment in writing
 be very specific in your praise

Always be on the lookout for positive change. There is nothing more demoralizing than to
change at great expense, and then seeing our superiors allow the change to go unnoticed.

Another reason to recognize achievement is to help people concentrate on images on

themselves succeeding. Such mental exercises have a great effect on performance.

8.Employ A Mixture Of Positive And Negative Reinforcement

People are complicated and are nudged along by a mixture of complicated stimuli. It is very
important then to apply a balanced blend of positive and negative reinforcement, and know
when to reprimand and when to praise. This is tricky but here are some guideposts to doing this

 Be certain that you are teaching them to avoid certain behavior, not to avoid you. This
means maintaining a warm, trusting relationship with your people and teaching people to
fear, not you, but the consequences of their actions. This means teaching children, and
adults, that life is a series of choices, and that certain choices lead to certain results.
 Follow the undesired behavior with immediate action.
 Establish a way to halt the negative stimulus as soon as the behavior stops.
 If negative stimulus control does not seem to be working, try shaping the absence of the
behavior. That is, give positive reinforcement to anything other than the undesired

9.Appeal Sparingly To The Competitive Urge

Competition has only limited uses. If workers feel pitted against each other excessively, they will
feel manipulated and resent this. If too much aggression against one another is allowed, people
are apt to stab each other in the back. Find a balance between cooperation and competition.

Use comparisons to inspire instead of to criticize.

Learn to appeal to anger as well. Appealing to anger and the competitive spirit tends to pull
people together.

10.Place A Premium On Collaboration

Most of us can function best when teamed up with at least one other person. Think of the
encouragement and solidarity that exists between husbands and wives. Organizers of
successful groups base their work on a fundamental fact about the makeup of the human
Also, in every person resides the basic need to belong to some group or tightly-knit people
where we are known and accepted, where we are committed to each other, where we know that
the other members of the group will be loyal to us if we are in trouble. This is called the
„affiliative motive‟.

Thus, ensure collaboration in your family or workplace as this will be more effective in
encouraging positive results. High-morale organizations care individually and collectively about
quality, performance, success and the sustainability of the organization.

Maintain a collaborative atmosphere by ensuring fairness, respect for the individual, and a fun
atmosphere. Reward cooperation. Assign responsibility for group morale to the group itself. Plan
occasions when people can be away together, as this encourages creativity and bonding.

11. Build Into The Group An Allowance For Storms

You also need to handle troublesome personalities or rebellion. Most people are a curious
contradiction: they want a leader that inspires them, but they also resent someone with power
over them. You can handle such problems by doing the following:

Defuse problems by letting people ventilate. You need to devote time and energy to listening to
people‟s complaints. Ventilating complaints can take out much of the venom of potential

Help resolve conflicts among members of your group, instead of keeping a hands-off attitude or
telling people that you don‟t want to hear about their squabbles. This may actually worsen the

Also, allow for some inexplicable behavior, or temporary insanity, or whatever you may want to
call it. Keep in mind that people may sometimes act irrationally.

When dealing with a particular troublemaker,

 Try to ascertain the reason for the abrasiveness.

 Determine just how disruptive the person is.

 Ask for help, from your group or outsiders.

 Weigh the person‟s contribution.

 If the problem is severe enough, remove the person.
 Appeal to the best side of the person.

12. Take Steps To Keep Your Own Motivation High

One could make a case for the proposition that all great leaders are loners. In fact, outstanding
motivators are not necessarily gregarious, backslapping types, but rather spend much of their
time alone, thinking and planning.
Thus, accept that independence and loneliness may be part of the job. But as well, learn to
keep your motivation high through the following:

 Keep thinking big

 Put your dreams into words so that others can share and help you work toward them
 Develop the ability to defy criticism if you really believe in what you are doing, but
beware of over-confidence and arrogance
 Maintain a high level of energy and enthusiasm as this is a great way to attract people to
your cause and encourage productivity
 Ensure constant self-renewal by surrounding yourself with successful, positive people,
continuous learning by absorbing new information and ideas through courses and
seminars, keeping a journal to monitor and track your thoughts, goals, and dreams.