For the love of whales

For the love of whales - a whale jumping out of the water

If you’ve read Ken Blanchard’s book, The One Minute Manager, then you are familiar with the analogy he uses about whales and motivating people. Ken describes a scenario where killer whales are trained to jump by first getting them to jump low over the bar to get their food and then gradually increasing the height of the bar until they are jumping high.

It’s a similar principle when we’re looking to motivate others. Demanding too much of them too soon ends only in frustration and missed expectations. While we want to challenge people, we also need to bring them along at a pace and cadence that allows them to learn and feel motivated and empowered – even energized as they then go for the next achievement. We need to exercise patience in helping motivate and grow those on the team. If we don’t then we’re claiming defeat before the work starts.

“Don’t confuse patience with perseverance; patience sees the potential to bring someone along while perseverance can sometimes mean you’re just putting up with the person.”


Motivating people and teams is best done by taking small steps so the learning sticks and there’s time to digest the lesson.