“You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” – Bob Nelson

Positive Quote: “You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” – Bob Nelson


I have found this quote to be true. Lighting a fire beneath others has short term effects. You may see improvement, yet it won’t last long. In order to see long term effects, you have to help set the environment for people to be able to self-motivate, to build the fire within them to succeed and exceed. Once someone is intrinsically motivated, they will not only do what they need to as part of their job responsibilities, yet they will look for ways to improve, to change the landscape and to grow themselves.


This quote reminds me of an experience I had many years ago in managing a help desk environment. One of the goals people had was occupancy, the amount of time they were logged in and available to take calls and/or on calls. Granted, this was only one goal of many and it was the complete picture of the goals that showed success. One KPI (key performance indicator) is not indicative of a full picture. Well, this one person perhaps did not fully understand how their leadership hierarchy looked at the overall picture. Their occupancy rate was great, yet their call volume was not great and their talk time was not good as well. The picture did not add up, so a peeling back of layers was started. To make a long story short, the person was using the work phone to call their cell phone which simulated that they were on a call and accounted for the anomalies that were being seen. It was the negative side effect of the difference between lighting a fire beneath them (their performance goals) and the fire not being within them (lack of internal motivation on achieving the goals). I smile when I remember this story, it is an example I use from time to time to show and help others understand that one metric, and one goal does not a complete picture show.


What do you think of this quote?


Have a terrific Tuesday.



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