Joined Nov 11, 2007
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Focus on Gains Not Losses

“Why aren’t companies hiring? Why aren’t homes selling, despite bargain pricing? Why is growth and innovation in some industries so sluggish?

Americans have a well-earned reputation for risk-taking, but these days we are something of a timid lot. Our reluctance to stick our collective neck out has everything to do with the psychology of motivation — specifically, how we think about the goals we pursue. The problem, in a nutshell, is simply this: when making decisions, lately many of us have been focused much more on what we have to lose than on what we might gain.

Whenever we see our goals — whether they are organizational or personal — in terms of what we have to lose, we have what’s called a prevention focus. Prevention motivation is about obtaining security, avoiding mistakes, and fulfilling responsibilities. It’s about trying to hang on to what you’ve already got and keep things running smoothly, and it isn’t at all conducive to taking chances.”

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