Why Take The Hard Way?

By: Glenda Lofton, Ph.D.

Sep 2, 2020

Years ago when I was teaching, a friend sent me an email purportedly containing comments made by teachers on student report cards. One caught my eye because it is typical of comments I often hear concerning today’s work ethic from educators, business employers, and even parents: “Your son sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.”                

It reminded me of a sixth grade student I encountered while doing the research for my doctoral dissertation.  Students had been divided into two groups, an experimental group that was to participate in a creative reading program that I had developed and the control group that would continue to be taught in their regular reading program.  About two weeks into the program, the student who was in the experimental group came up and asked to be transferred to the control group.  Confident that he would want to stay once he heard the benefits of being in the creative reading program, I showed him his reading scores, which were the lowest in the class, and told him how this program would help him be a better thinker and improve his overall reading achievement.  I will never forget the look on his face and the tone to his voice when he replied, “But thinking’s hard. And why take the hard way when you can take the easy way?”                

Unfortunately motivation is not something that can be externally imposed.  Motivation by threats or fear, the “do it or else” management style, results in personal resentment, inflexibility, and routine “get by” work performance.  Motivation comes from within the person.  At school, at work, at home, we must create an environment that allows that inner motivation to take over, an environment where there is trust and a close-knit, caring work group, responsibilities, achievements, and recognition, where individuals are challenged to try new things, see new options, or explore new ways of performing.  As General George Patton said, and Tommy Lofton firmly believes, “Tell others what you want done, not how to do it, and they will amaze you with their ingenuity.”  

We are at our best when we are faced with a conflict, a problem, or a challenge.  When things are OK, we tend to flatten out, go with the flow, and to become content with the status quo.  As coworkers, we can engage in the ecstasy of the imagination, help each other paint the picture of what is possible, and work together to have fun and be better.  In such an environment, regardless of the status of the job, motivation comes as we find joy in the work we do. When asked, “Why take the hard way when you can take the easy way?” we can respond wholeheartedly, “For the joy of it!”


About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Contact us today


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