As the CEO of Automatic Data Processing in the early 1980s, Josh Weston received a happy call from one of his West Coast managers.
"Our productivity went up 25 percent this year," he proclaimed with pride.
"Great," Weston replied. "Throw a big celebration and send me the bill. And tell your whole team that I'm thrilled."
But Weston, a master motivator, didn't stop there. He asked, "What are you going to do to top yourself this coming year?"
The manager couldn't believe it. He expected praise and more praise—not praise followed by a new challenge to do even better.
"I got him pretty mad," Weston recalls with a chuckle.
Rather than apologize for pushing too hard, Weston shifted the conversation to sports. He talked about the rules that govern pole-vaulting in the Olympics. When an athlete vaults to a new record, he doesn't just walk away in triumph.
"The rules are you must go back and try three more times to exceed your best jump," Weston explains. "You're required to try to do better. I told my manager about this. He got my point."
Within a week, the manager called Weston and said, "We're aiming to do better." And he proposed even greater goals for the year ahead.