Something For Nothing: Ambition

Theory X versus Theory Y

In the 1960’s, Harvard Psychologist Alex Mackenzie suggested two visions of people in the workplace, each leading to different forms of motivation in organizations. McGregor called these two views of mankind, “Theory X” and “Theory Y.

Theory X was defined as the idea that employees were basically lazy, and had to be continually motivated to do their jobs by using the “carrot and stick” method of rewards and punishment. McGregor postulated Theory Y, which said that people are basically positive, desire to do a good job and will strive toward excellence in their work if the proper incentives exist.

McGregor divided working conditions into two categories, hygiene needs and motivators. A hygiene need was defined as including things such as a secure work environment, a decent paycheck, pleasant surroundings, and proper work tools. His conclusion was that the presence of these factors did not motivate people to work harder, but if they did not exist, workers would be demotivated, and would not do their best work. McGregor defined a “motivator” as something more. It was a factor such as special attention from the boss, praise and encouragement, opportunities for promotion and advancement, greater responsibility, and recognition by bosses and coworkers. He concluded that by practicing “Theory Y” management, managers could bring the very best out of their people, and achieve the very best and highest quality results.

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Theory Z Management

Based on my experience with hundreds of companies, I suggest a third factor, which I call Theory Z. Theory Z says that people are neither good nor bad. They are neither positive nor negative. They are neither motivated nor unmotivated. They are merely expedient. In everything they do, mentally, emotionally and physically, they are subject to the overwhelming force of the E-Factor. According to this assessment, people are lazy, greedy, ambitious, selfish, vain, ignorant and impatient, and they will manifest these qualities in a positive or negative way depending upon the structure of financial and non-financial incentives in the organization.

Money as a Motivator of Behavior

It has been said that, “Money may not the most important thing, but it’s way up there with oxygen.” The fastest and easiest way to get the things you want as quickly as possible is almost always to have enough money to be able to buy them, whatever they cost. For this reason, the desire to acquire money, quickly and easily, and as much as possible, is a major motivator of human behavior. But it is not usually money that people really want. Sometimes I will ask my clients why they want to acquire a lot of money. After thinking about their answer for a couple of minutes, they finally conclude that what they want more than anything else is “freedom.” In reality, they see money as a means to achieving the freedom they really desire. They define freedom as having enough money so they can get everything they want. Having enough money will enable them to be completely free from worry about safety, security, comfort, leisure, love, respect and fulfillment. They see having lots of money as the fastest way to the good life.

Ten Million Dollars

In our Advanced Coaching and Mentoring Program, we do an exercise in Values Clarification. When everyone is seated, we hand out individual checks made out to each person in the amount of $10 million dollars. Of course, the checks are not cashable, but the idea of receiving $10 million dollars cash gives people an opportunity to fantasize about what they really want in their lives.

We then have the participants break into groups, discuss what they would do if they suddenly received $10 million dollars, and then report back to the group. We go around the room and write down their answers on a white board or flip chart.

Here is the most amazing discovery: almost everything that our clients would want to do, have or acquire does not cost any money! When people think of suddenly being financially independent, they immediately think about quality of life issues.

As we go around the room, the answers that come back are: “I would work shorter days and spend more evenings and weekends with my family; I would take a long vacation with my wife; I would join a health club and exercise every day to lose weight and get fit; I would write the book I’ve always wanted to write; I would get more involved with my church or political party; I would take up painting; I would write poetry; I would reorganize my business and my life; etc.”

This is an exercise that you can do, as well. Imagine that you received$10 million dollars cash, today. What would you do differently in your life if you had all the money that you could ever need? You may be surprised at the answers that you come up with.

About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

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