It can be hard to disentangle whether effort is a cause or a consequence in a given situation. But we can look at effort through a feedback loop that looks like this:
Effort > performance > pleasure > motivation > effort.
In reality, one’s ability to put in an effort typically arises as a consequence of something, not as a major cause.
The trick is to refrain from seeing effort as a cause or as a consequence, but rather as both. By seeing it this way, we can organize performance over the long term and generate an "addictive loop"—meaning a drive to repeat behaviors that are pleasurable by themselves.
This approach counters the tendency to overestimate our ability to both make an undesired effort as well as resist the temptation of alternative pleasurable activities. An addictive loop approach avoids those two obstacles by aiming for activities that generate pleasure—hence our desire to make an effort, hence more activities.
The role of leaders is to put in place a system of efforts-as-consequences, generating a spiral where outcomes get bigger and better as time goes on.
Individuals can consciously organize themselves into performance-effort loops.
Such extrinsic motivation schemes—where effort is forced by external rewards—have been shown to lead generally to undesirable outcomes.
While we can’t ignore them as short-term tactics, they only work in limited contexts, and only if properly inserted in a scheme balanced with intrinsic motivations.
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