Don’t just think different


Don’t just think different, Do Different. It’s 2023, a New Year, and we all start out with great intentions:

‘I’m going to be slimmer, fitter, nicer, more successful, work less, play more,’ and a thousand other great resolutions fly through our minds. Some get written down, like mantras, on ‘post it’ notes, work books and wall boards. And there they die, cast out of the mind, into the ether of swirling resolutions that disappear without trace until we bring them out again next year. The ‘post its’ flutter into the bin, the pages of the workbooks turn, and the wall boards are wiped clean.

Think this year will be different? Well, it can be, but only if you Do Different.

The choice to act on your resolutions is what will save them from oblivion and consequently improve your life this year. The doing, the action.

So, what is the difference between the person whose resolutions are consigned to the bin and the person who makes positive changes: Action

Now action requires motivation. To stick to that diet when faced with coffee and cake with your mates you need a reason; to get up at 6am, in the dark, to do 30 minutes on your exercise bike needs a reason; even taking regular breaks from your work when you are in flow, needs a reason. 

Reason = Motivation = Action

Effective leaders motivate others to achieve, after all you are only as good as the team you build around you, so how do you motivate your team to succeed. What ‘Reason’ do your team have to achieve, for themselves and the team?

Reasons are motivators. According to psychologist David McClelland’s Three Needs Theory these motivators can be categorized as follows.

  1. The need for Achievement
  2. The need for Power
  3. The need for Affiliation

These three motivators are widely used in leadership to assess the needs of a team so that it can reach optimum productivity. However . . .

If we are talking about acting on our personal resolutions, the promises we make to ourselves to be better, take better care of ourselves and the changes we intend to make to perform well in our professional lives, the motivators for achieving these goals might be better categorised as:

  1. Desire
  2. Security
  3. Fear

Let us break those down.


You want it. You want it so badly that you will do what it takes to get it. The problem with this motivator is that when you get it, all the good resolve you had goes out the window. For instance:

You want to look fabulous for your son’s wedding in June and you need to lose a couple of stone to get into the dress you bought to motivate you which is to sizes too small. So, from January to June you eat well and exercise and get that weight off. You look amazing at the wedding but by the following January you are now three stone heavier because you lost your motivator in June!

How do you stay on track permanently in terms of eating well and exercising regularly, well you need to either constantly renew your motivator (holiday coming up etc.) or . . . find a lifetime motivator. 


You need to feel safe. Make sure you have enough money to pay the bills, stay healthy so as to avoid having to be off work, get off those anti-depressants / indigestion pills and so on.

Safety is a great motivator in a fight or flight situation, for those times where you need to act differently in short or urgent bursts, but does it really work as a long-term motivator, when we are looking at sticking to our New Year’s resolutions?

Mind you, combine security with desire and the motivation ramps up. You need to lose that 2 stone because you want to look good, and you can’t afford to buy another dress; You want to get fit to run a half-marathon, and you have a bet with your friends that you can do it and don’t want to lose face or lose the money! 

Double up that motivation and double your chances of success.


If you don’t do it, you will lose something, miss out, get sick, fail. Fear is a great motivator to stick with a resolution for better health, to carry on with a learning program to get that promotion etc. 

If you add a fear element to desire and security, you will be on to a winner in terms of your motivation

But what about motivating others to achieve, as a leader?

Let us revisit David McClelland’s motivators: 

  1. The need for Achievement
  2. The need for Power
  3. The need for Affiliation

These are the drivers that will motivate your team, yet each members driver may be different, take higher priority. The secret here is to get to know your team, understand what they want and then motivate them individually to achieve as part of the team. 

So, let’s break down those motivators to help you to work out which will work for each of your team. This is based on David McClelland’s Theory of Motivation.

David McCellands’ – Theory of Motivation: interpretation from Ali Bagley

The Need for Achievement

This is about wanting to overcome difficulties, excellence in delivery, reaching goals and dealing with challenges. 

The team member who shows a need to win, to be the best, is likely to be motivated by the need for achievement. Set them targets, give them goals to reach. Let them know that you depend on them to deliver and to set an example for the rest of the team.

The Need for Power

As a leader you might be uncomfortable with giving power to members of your team. But power can be a great tool to motivate those who show signs of wanting to influence others, make an impact or make a difference. 

Give those team members roles where they support others to achieve, where their work is crucial to the success of the project. Delegate some of your tasks to them. Let them know that you need them to step up, to take on these important roles in the team.

The Need for Affiliation

Sometimes, people just want to feel that they belong. That they are a valued member of a team or community. They want to be involved and have the ability to build solid relationships.

These team members might thrive in a stakeholder relationship role, they will want to be involved in all parts of a project team and will be brilliant given tasks which enable them to work in collaboration with others.

Call to Action

In 2023 number one priority is to get your mindset right, to recognise where you need to make positive changes and to ensure you have the motivation in place to take action to make those changes. To be the best you that you can be.

As an effective leader, spend some time getting to know what motivates each of your team members, maybe even you clients and other co-workers. When you understand what others need in terms of their motivators, you will be able to create a far more effective and productive team.

So, this year, don’t just think different, do Different, do Better.

Previous articleHumans do the messy things
Next articleCancer Survivor – No to Positive Thinking
Ali Bagley
Ali is a Business Impact Coach, Writers Coach and a qualified Project and Proposals Manager. She is an author of guides for coaches starting out in their business and various journals and other business support books. She is also a Geographer of Emotions, helping people to grow and develop personally and professionally through the methodology of Emotional Mapping. Her background is corporate project and proposals management, leading teams winning multi-million-pound contracts in infrastructure. She went to university at 41 years old and graduated with a BA (Hons) in Business and Finance Management in 2009. She has successfully run independent businesses for many years, before and after her time in corporate, gaining great insight and understanding of the pressures that being a small business owner can bring. Throughout her career Ali has coached and written, these are her two passions. From running Weight Watchers meetings in the 1990’s to running her own businesses in Insurance and Retail, her life has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows, both personally and professionally. Ali totally embraces all of the learning experiences that have brought her to where she is today. She believes that to be able to help others achieve, you need to have learned from failure, to know joy you must first experience pain. She has been knocked down more times than she can count but has always got up again. Ali is now living her best life, full of confidence, self-belief, love and purpose. Her journey now is to bring that light and positivity into the lives of others, through her coaching and her story telling. Ali is also very proud and excited to be the Director of Business Services for Emotional Geography UK Ltd, Eliciting, Mapping and Managing Emotions.