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Business Personality Types: Fear vs Thrill

One way to get more productivity out of yourself and your team is to understand what motivates them and supply more of it. Seth Godin says many companies are full of two types of people

I now firmly believe that there are two polar opposites at work: Thrill seekers and Fear avoiders

I can see that but I am happier with the types expressed as

  • Towards
  • Away from

Seths thrill-seeker is a “Towards”; they go-after, want to achieve, acquire, they visualise their goals, the prize in their hands. As he says, these guys make for great salespeople when you set good targets. To keep these people happy you need to provide goals with incentives that match their wants and needs.

I am the other type, the “Away-From” guy. Oh I try to be the first kind, but most of the time I am living in fear of a downside, have nightmares of what-could-be, am running away from the big-generic-monster-in-the-darkness that is chasing me. Rather than having a goal of making money I try to not be broke. It can come in handy, I am usually among the first to spot potholes in a project plan for example ๐Ÿ™‚ Fear of the sack kept me working hard in many jobs.

Motivating the first comes naturally for most people, less so for the second group. Of course it comes down to stick and carrot. You can also use these traits to help motivate yourself.

If you are the first kind you have to picture what it will feel like when you have completed the task at hand. Away-from people imagine what dire consequences could arise if you do not complete your task in a timely manner. You can even create consequences or treats for those tasks where the motivation still is not there.

What kind of person are you and how to you keep yourself motivated?

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  1. I’m like you in that I tend to be the “away-from” kind of guy, but I’m always trying to be more of a “towards” person. That’s the only way I can comprehend setting a goal and actually achieving it. It’s easy to fall into the mindset (or rut) of trying to keep bad things from happening rather than making good things happen.

  2. Yeah it’s something I am trying to change also. I have had ambitions (and achieved plenty of them) so there is hope for me but instinctively I tend towards .. well, fear ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Way too simple for my twisted mind ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’m both.
    I’m mainly fear-driven as a student and as a professional but much more a thrill-seeker as a blogger.
    I’m not saying it’s not interesting, this IS definitely useful ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I can relate, guess we can take risks when our career doesn’t depend on it eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. This might be the case ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I read Seth’s post as well. I like your terms and would have to admit to being more of an Away From than a Toward. It’s not change that bothers me; that happens all the time. I’m just highly selective of those efforts I choose to pursue.

  7. Definitly towards. I love managing those guys and gals too. Its fun, goal oriented management I get pretty creative with goals and incentives.

    So, you’re the other guy, huh. I have two “away from” guys. It took me a long time to figure out how to motivate them. (My business does not have a high turn over rate because we like to believe in people.) I have found that when I help the “away from” guy structure or organize their projects on a one on one basis with a lot of more frequent mini meetings it is very effective. You are right money is usually not the motivator. Kind of like when you eat more times a day but smaller meals you tend to have more energy and focus. It takes alot more energy to manage the “away from” guys but I have found that the rewards are greater.

  8. Me too, I am a “away from” guy too and, to be honest, it bothers me alot. That’s why I’m trying really hard to change that. I look at the “toward” people, such as my brother, and definitely like what I see.

    What if we could choose which one to be depending on the situation? Have total control on being one or the other and use this ability strategically. I think that would be really usefull, and cool. But the bigger question is HOW?

  9. Chris, this is an interesting dichotomy of personality types.

    It perfectly describes the relationship I have with my business partner. I’m the “towards” guy, he’s the “away from” guy. It works well because we balance each other’s strengths.

    While there’s a danger this optimistic / pessimistic relationship will stall our projects, it turns out we actually end up with a better strategy than if either of us went at it alone.

    Love the ebook, btw. Awesome stuff.