Are You Prevention or Promotion-Focused?

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Dreaming is at the heart of disruption and because I believe this to be true, I was confident that I was promotion, rather than prevention focused.

Except that after finishing up a webinar and not being at all happy with how it went, my husband, the truth teller, said to me, “You are far more effective in preparing for any kind of public presentation when you ask yourself how much do I need to prepare to make sure that I don't bomb?”

How's that for a bomb? Because he was right.

In the midst of this event, I refreshed my memory on what being promotion versus prevention focused meant. Those who are promotion-focused, according to Tory Higgins and Heidi Grant-Halvorson, are motivated by the amazing things that will happen if they take the leap to a new learning curve. Being prevention-focused implies you’re more concerned with what will happen if you stand still.

I work best when I prepare for all the things that could go wrong. In the case of the webinar, I could’ve prepped by making a checklist of potential problems — my audio could fail, I wouldn’t have access to the best internet connection, my deck would get stuck on a specific slide because of a glitch. But, instead, I opted for being promotion-focused.

I suspect that there are areas of my life where being promotion-focused is ideal. It's probably a continuum where we are some interesting amalgam of promotion and prevention focused. But I wonder if when we think we are one thing, it's because we want to be and not necessarily because we are. It’s essential to analyze our behavior and audit where we stand and what each situation calls for.

Understanding whether you’re prevention-focused or promotion-focused could potentially help you walk into situations with a bit more confidence. The good news is that whether you try something new because it will be fun, or because you are afraid of the consequences of standing still, you’re still trying it. Sometimes, it doesn't matter why you are motivated, but that you are.

And that you jump.


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