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Team Building Through Implied Discontent

Dec 5, 2007
"Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?" - Steve Jobs, The question he asked to lure John Sculley to work for Apple

The quote above asks a powerful question. When you are working to build a team you don't just want bodies occupying seats you want individuals who are motivated, passionate and understand the vision for what you are seeking to accomplish in business.

The first part of the question focuses on the perceived trivial nature of what someone is currently doing. The individual's response could be a placid rebuff, anger or possibly some serious internal questioning, "Do I want to spend the rest of my life doing (fill in the blank)."

It is the second half of the question that drives home a powerful consideration, "Do I want to change the world?"

Well, that may sound better than sitting around doing whatever it is your doing now, but for some individuals there is the fear that they may not be adequate to the task of world changer and they are tolerant of safety in the workplace.

Whether intended or not the question asked by Steve Job contains a mechanism that can instill a measure of discontent. This mechanism does so by promising something better either in occupation or life purpose. Job wanted to hire Sculley, so if discontent can be classified as a solid marketing tool then he used it to great effect.

The point is most of us want to live a life with genuine purpose. We want to be able to look back on our life and find satisfaction in knowing that some bit of the world was changed because we spent time on the big blue ball. That's what makes Job's question so powerful. Whether this question is asked because you want to start your own business or because you want to develop a solid team of like-minded professionals it is a question that is always worth considering. If you can question yourself personally and on your terms you may not view it as discontent, but rather life evaluation. Is what you are currently doing matching up with any purpose statement you may have about your life?

While some might argue that this approach is simply relying on discontent to motivate an individual to work for you there is a flipside to this controversial coin. If your business is a good match for the potential employee and if you have done your homework in recruiting you may be able to ask a question that offers them the opportunity to view their present job in light of the passions they have. If the job they currently hold is simply a 'job' and you offer a more team oriented approach to business then this approach to recruiting may make sense for you - and the prospective employee especially if the job they are currently in only provides an income without an outlet for doing something special with the skills they have.

This really leaves just one question for each of us to consider - if you were offered the opportunity to change the world, would you?
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