When I worked at a startup company years ago and things got stressful, my supervisor would wail, “We’re just set up to fail!” She cried real tears once, when it looked like we were going to miss delivering our McDonald’s Kids’ Meal prize on time.
The deadlines were tight and stringent. “We’re set up to fail!”
There was a bug in the system. “We’re set up to fail!”
The art department misunderstood the engineering department. “We’re set up to fail!”
In actuality, she meant, “I’m afraid we’re going to fail!”
In the end, the entire startup did fail. But our department never did, we simply met our goals with a lot of stress. The constant cry of the “sky is falling” unnerved the team. Projects that could have been accomplished with fun and enjoyment were, instead, completed in solemn urgency.
Isn’t this what many people do at work and life? Aren’t a lot of people motivated by fear? Fear of failure, fear of losing money, fear of losing face.
People can be motivated by fun and awe and still get it done.