Is fear a motivator? Part 3: What actually happened – with a twist

Those of you who read Part 1 and Part 2 already know my dilemma – whether to let my daughter struggle on with a band exercise believing she had a C, or tell her the teacher had revised her grade to an A.

It got me thinking about fear in the workplace caused by things like a potential layoff, a looming deadline, or the threatened loss of a key account. Does this threat result in Herculean effort, or is it more likely to lead to exhaustion, resentment, or withdrawal?

You’ve probably guessed by now that I didn’t tell her. I let her struggle. I figured the lesson would be better learned if she experienced some discomfort. But as it turned out, she discovered on her own and promptly did what I expected her to do – submit all three exercises including the one she’d never mastered. But that’s not the final word on the story.

A week later she had another practice log due. Once again, she missed the deadline, landing herself right back in the position she had worked so hard to overcome.

My conclusion based on this experience? Fear might be a motivator in the short-term but it’s not likely to modify longer-term behavior.

Do you agree with my conclusion? Or have we beat this one to death? Send your comments to – if I use them I’ll feature your business.