Monday Motivation: Changing Old Habits

This past weekend a friend of mine was complaining to me that she had received a poor review at work and as a result she did not receive the anticipated raise.  In having worked together in the past I knew my friends strengths and weaknesses and the complaints in her review sounded all too familiar.  I suggested that she take the poor review as an opportunity to improve, and recommended that she read the following passage from The Wealthy Spirit by Chelli Campbell.

“My secretary, Joanne, was terrific.  Bright, thoughtful, energetic – I hired her on the spot.  As we worked together over the next few months, there was only one problem:  she wouldn’t proofread her work.  We fell into the habit of her preparing a rough draft, I would proofread the letter, then she would type the final.  But often the final draft would also have a typo or two and would have to done again.  It finally dawned on me that this was not an efficient use of my time.

The next morning, I brought a big jar to the office.  I put it on my desk, and I told Joanne that the proofreading of her work needed to be reassigned because I could no longer spend time on it.  She asked who was going to do it now.  “You are,” I said.  She laughed and said, “Oh, Chellie, you know I’m no good at that!  I’ve tried.”  “Well,” I said, “I think you’re going to try harder.  You may not work here forever, and my goal is to train you to be so fabulous in your work that when you hand a letter to someone for it to be signed, they can rely on you to have done it perfectly every time.  This will get you trust, promotions, and more money.

“From now on, I am going to charge a quarter for every mistake I find in your work.  Each typo, every misspelled word, every missing punctuation mark will cost you.  I brought this jar to put the quarters in.”  Joanne laughed a little and remarked, “That’s a big jar.  You must think I make a lot of mistakes.”  “Prove me wrong,” I replied, as I gave her some letters.

The first letter cost her seven quarters.  We watched together as they clinked into the bottom of the big jar.  She went off to do another letter.  Five quarters.  Day in and day out for the next several weeks, the quarters piled up in the jar.  It was beginning to cost her real money.  She started getting frustrated with the game, and determined not to fill up that damned jar.  She was now motivated to change.  We both cheered the day she turned in a perfect letter and no quarters had to go in the jar.  She had succeeded in changing her habit.  We went out to lunch on the jar money.

Years passed, and eventually Joanne left to take another position.  Over time we lost touch.  Then one day, I got a phone call from her – she was working in management and very successful.  She said that of all the things she had learned while working for me, the lesson that always stood out in her mind was paying a quarter to the jar for mistakes.  Now she had her own secretary.  And she was the one with the jar of quarters on her desk.

Got a bad habit you’d like to change?  Get a jar.”


About Angie Polizzi, Owner

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