In a recent edition of Sky Mall (yes, I travel a lot), I saw an ad illustrating a new solar powered battery charger for the iPhone. I’m sure it is a must-have for those who brave the outdoors for extended periods of time. But what caught my eye was that the picture illustrating the device had an iPhone in its cradle that had a low battery.

My first reaction was that if the phone is in the charger, it would be helpful to show that it is full and demonstrate how you can keep your phone charged with this handy-dandy solar charger (benefits). Clearly the advertisers thought differently, indicating that it was more persuasive to show a low charge because that is when you need such a device (risk).

So the age old question still stands…Battery half-charged or half-empty? 

Well, it depends. It is still the same battery and extending the example to life, it is still the same situation. Glass half-full people are presumed to be positive people while glass half-empty people are negative.  But it depends on your goal, doesn’t it? Are you trying to fill the glass? Or drink it down? Neither one is inherently bad, it really comes down to what happens afterwards.

Upon realizing that the glass if half-full, some people give up and say that it is good enough, after all, you can’t have everything in life. Still, when others see something as half-empty, they get motivated. They see it as reassurance that they can achieve their objective, after all, they’re already half-way there.

When trying to motivate others, we have to consider these types of differences. Not only is it important to understand how they view obstacles and success, but also how do they respond to them. That is the real power. Do you present the risks or the benefits…the pain or the pleasure. Remember it is not what charges us that is important, but what charges them.


John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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