After my last article about the Pittsburgh Pirates organization so many of you have responded asking more about my time with them at their spring training. So based on that I thought I’d share with you a little of what I shared with their staff. The theme of my talk was “Soft Rain Daily” and the core of my message was about why we must redefine ourselves.
It’s that time of year again when McDonalds runs their any size drink for one-dollar promotion. Normally a small is .99, a medium $1.29 and a large $1.49. But for about 30 days at a time they run the “Any Size Drink For One Dollar” campaign. At first glance it seems like a great deal until you understand what they are doing. They’re getting you to redefine yourself.
It’s human nature to look for the best deal we can get. When all sizes are the same price you will choose the largest size you can get otherwise you’d feel like you were getting ripped off. That’s what McDonald’s wants you to do. And because it’s such an attractive offer (more attractive than any competitor’s promotion) they know you will most likely return frequently as a repeat customer during that 30-day window. (Any coincidence many psychologists believe it takes roughly 30 days to create a new habit?) When you do this often enough, regardless of what size drink you usually bought in the past, you will redefine yourself as a large drinker.
Then at the end of the promotion when prices return to $1.49 you will most likely continue to order the large even at 50% greater cost because you’ve redefined yourself as now being a large drinker. It’s subtle behavior modification at its finest. Coaches and all leaders take note because you’re in the behavior modification business too.
McDonald’s doesn’t hit you with a one-day sale and hope to land you and keep you as a customer, it’s a subtle daily campaign. It’s the difference between spraying your yard down with a fire hose once a month versus a soft rain daily. Which grows grass better? We need to train our mindset every day too because the world is trying to train us on the wrong things and we never outperform our self-image.
We create all sorts of self-assigned labels. We call ourselves slow, iPhone users, too old, non-readers, Chevy drivers, bad at math, too young, etc.
The labels we assign ourselves drive our thoughts and our thoughts drive our actions. My daughters are both competitive swimmers (they have my wife’s athleticism). My oldest, Meredith, is hard of hearing and last year really struggled with starts in the pool. When the buzzer goes off she doesn’t hear it so she would react to the movement of the other swimmers diving in. Consequently she always got off to a slow start in each race and couldn’t make up that lost time. She was frustrated and labelled herself as a bad swimmer.
I was talking to my friend Ann who has a son who is hard of hearing and was an amazing collegiate swimmer. She recommended to me that Meredith do what her son Ryan did. He realized the light travels faster than sound, so at the start instead of watching his competitors he watched the light that lights up on the scoreboard when the buzzer sounds and got a jump on everyone else. His adversity became his advantage. When I shared this strategy with Meredith, her starts immediately improved and in a few weeks she went from worst to first into the pool. It was a matter of her seeing her adversity through a different lens as an advantage.
Sometimes our adversity even holds a hidden residual benefit for those around us. At about the same time, our youngest daughter Julia really didn’t have a lot of confidence academically and despised reading. She defined herself as a bad reader. (It didn’t help that her older sister is a voracious reader.) How do you get people to redefine the label they’ve attached to themselves? Labels like slow starter or bad reader? Soft rain daily.
For Julia this soft rain came surprisingly in the form of our television. Whenever the television in our house is on, the closed captioning is always on for Meredith. As a result, Julia was being exposed to reading at the bottom of the screen every single day. She went from being a below average student and reading below grade level to bringing home a report card filled with A’s and reading slightly above grade level. Her subconscious was at work reading the text captioned at the bottom of the screen whenever they watched television. Soft rain daily.
What labels are you assigning to yourself? I bet you could redefine them
What’s your adversity? Look a little closer, I bet there’s a hidden advantage.