One of the important concepts that we introduce in many of our programmes is that of Toward & Away. Toward & Away is a helpful model derived from a psychological concept called ‘Approach and Avoidance’, that is both challenging and useful.

Toward and Away looks at two types of motivation. The ‘Away’ motivation outlines how someone is primarily motivated to move away from what they don’t want or what they don’t like, in their past or in their current circumstances. This can be highly motivational, however, it is unsustainable because the further the person moves away from the incident they don’t like, the more their initial motivation declines.

Therefore, they can get caught in a trap where they unconsciously create crisis or chaos to recover the motivation.

This can generate a very chaotic environment with lots of change, restructure and a culture that is focused on what it doesn’t want rather than what it wants.

This is fundamentally different from the ‘Toward’ motivation. A person who has a ‘Toward’ motivation has much more clarity about what they want and who they want to be. They have set aside time and energy to outline what they want in the future and who they want to be in the process of achieving this.

They will have thought about the obstacles and the derailers that may exist between the present and the achieved destination and they will have already imagined how to address or overcome these. This is a much more sustainable motivation.

Whilst there may not be immediate short-term highs, there is long-term, sustainable, upward growth for the individual in achieving what it is they have set out to deliver.

If you can take time and begin to get clarity about what it is you want and who you want to be, then you will begin to nurture a habit that will allow for long-term sustainable growth.

Scan for the Good Stuff

We were sitting in a wee room and I was listening to her tell me about her new boss. It was winter outside but the weather was gleaming and crisp. Her new boss was hard work, too slick, too efficient, too professional. Her old boss, on the other hand, was ace. Everything he had done was simply wonderful.

I enquired about her new boss.

“What does he do well?”

“What do you like about him?”

“In what ways could you connect?”

Her responses to these questions were interesting. Silence initially, with eyes up and to the left. Wondering.

Then she started to list some of the good stuff. All the things that she had ignored, overlooked or deleted about her new boss. The good things.

It’s funny, when you form a judgement, you scan for the evidence to reinforce that judgement. Sometimes, this can help. Other times it just creates distance, keeps you stuck and doesn’t serve you well.

She was stuck. But by scanning for some of the good stuff, her position loosened, the judgement changed and different possibilities emerged.