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You’re a boss. You have to decide which of two employees you’re going to put more time, effort, and money into training. Which would you choose?       

Employee A             or             Employee B                       

On time                                     Frequently Late

Prepared                                    Did not complete work/left it at home

Enthusiastic                               Numerous excuses why job isn’t done

Wants to learn new things      Complains constantly about workload

Respectful of others                  Swears/fights/bullys others

Wants to advance                      Wants to play video games and live

                                                        in parents’ basement   

Now as a teacher, I never gave up on a kid. I was very proud when I worked with a student that had failed the previous year and I helped them develop the skills, confidence, and maturity to succeed this time around.  But that’s not the question.

Which employee do you invest more time, effort and money?

I’m thinking most employers would choose Employee A.

As a teacher, I was ordered to do the opposite.

When I look at these columns as students; Column A are intrinsically motivated. These students will get the job done – no matter what. Or they are extrinsically motivated but have received positive validation over their lifetimes. (I’m not talking a sticker for breathing).

 Column B are extrinsically motivated. Their sense of self comes from outside themselves. They need and will get attention. If they’ve made it to high school and haven’t gotten the attention for academics or sports or arts or some other positive source – they are going to get it by acting out. Or if they are intrinsically motivated then their self-worth has been deleted somewhere in their lifetimes and now need external validation.

The problem with column B, they really want to be Column A’s.

What I believe is that whatever one focuses on one gets. The more I focused on Column B behaviors, the more Column B’s I got.  Kid’s that were on the fence but in need of some attention — it’s time to be a B not an A because that’s where all the attention is going.

If I focus on kids doing everything that needs to be done to be a Column A person and ignore the behaviors of the kids in Column B – what choice does Column B have. Remember, they are extrinsic people – they need external validation – they need attention – they will do whatever it takes to get it. So now the choice for column B is no attention OR find a way to get over to Column A and get some attention. Trust me – it may take a while – there is a lot of testing that is going to go on to see if you’ll cave – but in the end – if the choice is no attention or change and become a Column A….

Column A is going to be the choice.

It seems so simple to me – reward a temper tantrum — get more temper tantrums – reward motivation and effort – get more of that. Some kids may have some deep-rooted problems and that’s a whole other post – but no matter where the kid starts from – if you can get them to shift even a little bit to the success side – they will crave more of that. Bosses may not have the time or inclination to help with this shift – BUT parents and teachers – we can change the world one happily shifted kid at time.

Yesterday, I asked the favor – talk to a kid. Today, I ask that everyone you talk to, you only tell them positive things about themselves. Even if you have to ask them to correct a problem or a behavior phrase it in a positive way. (Obviously, this doesn’t apply if you’re in a dangerous situation, but I think you know what I mean.) An example of a negative phrased as positive.

Negative – I don’t want to get sick.

Positive – I want to be healthy.

They seem the same but are very, very different.

To a kid maybe instead of:

I’d like to not see your room a mess. 


I’d love to see your room neat. 

When dealing with a kids never assume they know how to do something. My kid — genius — but clean his room — tough — in this case to get to the A Column — I needed to remember issues with A.D.D. Give kids things in little chunks — let them feel the success and build from there. Instead of expecting the whole room cleaned — go for “Please bring me your dirty clothes,” then “Please make the bed,” etc. Remember extrinsic people need external rewards — the more the job is broken into pieces the more chances for external validation.

If you change a negative to a positive thought today let me know. This kind of stuff makes me happy.