When you were a kid, you wouldn’t get the pie unless you ate the peas. As we get older, it gets more sophisticated. They don’t threaten to fire you to get a day’s work out of you.

But there is a variation of the peas/pie gambit that still gets results. One of the country’s most successful college basketball coaches uses the Rule of Ten Thousand. Or rather, ten thousand dollars.

“You miss more free throws than any other starter on this team,” he says. “You say you can’t make free throws?”

“Now, what if I were to pay you ten thousand dollars to shoot about the league average in free throws the rest of the season? Could you hit sixty-five percent?”

“Yeah, I know I can.”

“Yeah, I know you can, too. Only there’s just one thing. I’m not going to pay you ten thousand dollars. You are going up to that line, and every time you shoot I want you to think you’re shooting for that ten thousand dollars.”

A 50 percent free-throw shooter became a 70 percent shooter, for a coach whose teams appeared in the NCAA tournament more often than any other team in his region.

Same problem, different scenario. “You are late to work more often than any other employee in this section. I’ve heard all the excuses. They don’t cut it. Here’s what we’ll do. I’m going to bribe you. It’s strictly against company rules, but if you are not late to work once, that is, once in the next year, I’m going to see to it that we give you ten thousand dollars. Okay, for an extra ten thousand dollars, can you get an alarm clock that works and remember to set it? Can you get here on time for ten thousand dollars?”

“You bet I can!”

“There’s just one thing. You aren’t going to be late, but I’m not going to pay you the ten thousand dollars. But I want you to act exactly, exactly, as if you think I’m going to, because now I know you can do it. It’s just a question of motivation.”

Still the same problem, still another scenario. This time the setting is your head. The problem, whatever it is, is yours. The boss is on your case. Vague threats. Try the Rule of Ten Thousand on yourself. If you were given an extra ten thousand dollars could you, would you, get your act together?

You can do it after all, can’t you?

About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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