At the beginning of ESPN's broadcast of last night's Game 1 of the NBA Finals, sideline reporter Doris Burke filed a story about how Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers motivated his team to make it to the Finals. Back in February, after the Celtics' only regular-season game at the Staples Center, home of their archrivals and the defending champions Los Angeles Lakers, Rivers got hold of an envelope and took up a collection from his players and staff. Everyone coughed up a hundred dollars — $2,600 in all. Then he told the team he was going to hide the envelope somewhere inside the Staples Center.
Rivers told them: “The only way you’ll get it back is if you come back here and get it.’’ And the only way that was going to happen was by making it to the Finals (assuming, of course, that LA also made it).
On Thursday, Rivers reached up under the drop ceiling in the visitors' locker room and retrieved the dusty envelope — and the $2,600 it contained.
Rivers is known for being a masterful motivator. But did his team of highly paid athletes really need to get their C-notes back? That's not the point. It certainly wasn't the money that motivated the team. By making a dramatic, fun gesture, Rivers got his players to visualize something concrete and real — a bulging envelope — rather than something as intangible as a championship berth four months in the future.
(Of course, the motivation didn't carry into the first game. The Lakers beat the Celts, 102–89.)
What about your workplace? Is there some dramatic, fun, and concrete gesture that you could use to motivate your team? Share it in the comments below.