Friday, September 10, 2010

Excerpts from 2,000 Percent Living--2,000 Percent Living Blueprints: Follow These Directions to Achieve More Breathtaking Breakthroughs.

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us,
for we were not disorderly among you;
nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge,
but worked with labor and toil night and day,
that we might not be a burden to any of you,
not because we do not have authority,
but to make ourselves an example
of how you should follow us.

— 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 (NKJV)

After I started writing this book, I visited an exhibition of
Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings at MASS MoCA in North
Adams, Massachusetts. In case you are unfamiliar with
this aspect of the artist’s work, let me explain a little bit
about it. Mr. LeWitt found the process of conceptualizing
art to be interesting and worthy apart from producing
the art, and he liked to draw. As a result, he worked on
helping people recreate his drawings on a grand scale
without him being present. If you would like to see some
of these recreated wall drawings, you can find examples
at the MASS MoCA Web site, I also
encourage you to visit the exhibition, which will continue
until 2033.

As I toured the extensive display of wall drawings, I was
impressed by examples of the complex plans that Mr.
LeWitt (who is now deceased) provided for those who
want to render his wall drawings. The details are so
thoroughly developed and easy to understand that
virtually anyone who can read English can expect to
create an excellent wall drawing that will appear as
Mr. LeWitt intended. If you are musically inclined,
think of these instructions as being similar to the score
of a symphony. By playing what the composer wrote on
period instruments, you can recreate the music that
existed during the composer’s lifetime.

A new question occurred to me while I was touring the
exhibit: How well would people understand the nuances
of how to create 2,000 percent living breakthroughs after
the best current practitioners are no longer available?
I imagined that many well-meaning people might
misinterpret what has been written on the subject and
that, consequently, much effort could go into relatively
ineffective activities.

Having become aware of the humbling question of how
to best serve unborn generations, I immediately began
to appreciate that Mr. LeWitt’s instructions could be
likened to blueprints. With a good blueprint to make
something, any reasonably competent person who
knows how to use blueprints can create the desired

I immediately determined that I would include
blueprints for a few of the most important aspects of
2,000 percent living in an appendix to this book. Those
who just want to graze through the concepts of 2,000
percent living will get what they want from the fourteen
lessons. Those who would like to create many
breathtaking breakthroughs can use the blueprints to
make progress more quickly.

Since providing blueprints is such an obvious idea, you
might wonder why I haven’t done previous work of this
sort to advance the 400 Year Project (see Adventures of
an Optimist). I have certainly toyed with the thought,
but I have avoided doing much about it beyond
coauthoring The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook. In
choosing to be mostly silent about detailed instructions,
I was primarily concerned that I not stifle anyone’s
creativity. I believed that what I’ve learned and been
writing about can be reconceptualized into a simpler and
better form. I also hoped that many 2,000 percent
solution tutors would soon emerge and that they would
develop better blueprints than I could by drawing on
their experiences with the process.

Over the first fourteen years of the project, I learned
something that surprised me: With God’s help I can
develop improved breakthrough methods much faster
than most people become interested in learning how to
use them. That circumstance suggests that I need to
focus on making it easier to grasp the importance of
using these breakthrough methods and to appreciate how
little time and effort can be needed to apply the processes
to create remarkable solutions. As a result of my concern
about the relatively slow growth in the number of people
applying the process, I have decided to become a
blueprint maker for you.

In thinking about these blueprints, I realize that my task
is a little more complicated than Mr. LeWitt’s. What he
wanted to enable will still be literally relevant centuries
from now. What I am describing should be improved over
time as new resources, knowledge, and skills emerge.
Therefore, I need to write the blueprints to allow for
those advances to be incorporated into future solutions.
I’ll do my best to project potential advances in methods
by imagining some possibilities so that your application
of the blueprints will be more likely to benefit from any
fundamental improvements. I’ll also make this
information more relevant for the future by grounding
my writing as much as possible in circumstances that
are likely to remain similar to today.

Let’s get started by looking at the first blueprint: the
principles behind identifying ideal practices.

You will also find blueprints for being a breakthrough
leader and a breakthrough follower on my other blogs:
Live Spiritually Better than a Billionaire and Create a
Billion Dollar Business.

Copyright 2010, Donald W. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

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Ideal Practice Identification Blueprint from 2,000 Percent Living

“Therefore you shall be perfect,
just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

— Matthew 5:48 (NKJV)

This verse from Matthew isn’t familiar to many
Christians. Even those who know the verse are often
reluctant to take the words at face value. Based on
thinking about what I have observed, I realized that
many things individuals and groups do are conducted
almost perfectly on a routine basis. Most people fail to
realize that important point: God has provided each of us
with living examples of how to perfect what we do
individually and through cooperating with others. When
you understand more of the reasons why these successes
occur and apply them in Godly ways to your situation,
there will be few limits to what you can accomplish with
His direction and support.

The purpose of this blueprint is to help you to identify
many examples of near perfection in individual and group
performance, to extract principles that explain the high
performance, and to apply those principles to improve an
individual or group activity by performing steps five, six,
and seven of the 2,000 percent solution process. (See
The 2,000 Percent Solution and The 2,000 Percent
Solution Workbook.)

Copyright 2010 Donald W. Mitchell, All Rights Reserved.

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Step One: Identify at Least Fifty Examples of Perfect or Near-Perfect Individual Performance by Adults

Now all these things happened to them as examples,
and they were written for our admonition, ….

— 1 Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV)

You will learn more about creating 2,000 percent
solutions by developing your own examples, but I list
fifty instances here of adults taking near-perfect action
in many different aspects of life to provide a starting
point. In addition, these examples are intended to open
your mind to what you have already observed: that
instances of individual perfection and near perfection in
adult performance are common.

Consider the following:

• Breathing (Few healthy people who can find enough
fresh air stop breathing on their own.)
• Cashing or depositing a paycheck (Few people who
aren’t in a coma fail to learn how or forget to do so.)
• Refueling a working vehicle (Few people permanently
abandon a vehicle after it runs out of fuel.)
• Sending an invoice for work done (Few people forget
to seek payment for tasks performed to earn money.)
• Opening birthday presents (Many people even open
them secretly in advance.)

• Drinking enough liquids to avoid death from
dehydration (If potable fluids are available, those who
can reach and swallow them will drink what they need.)
• Asking for raises in pay (Few employed people will not
ask for an increase if one hasn’t occurred in the prior
three years and no contract prohibits it.)
• Changing a flat tire or finding someone to do so (Few
people permanently abandon an otherwise working
vehicle after it has a flat tire, even if they cannot change
the tire themselves.)
• Filing a tax return to obtain the refund of a significant
overpayment (People who don’t know what to do will
find someone who can help them.)
• Replacing clothing that is falling apart rather than go
naked (Very few poor people don’t have access to
replacement clothing that they can afford or obtain for

• Getting into a home after accidentally locking oneself
out (Few people become homeless following such a
• Learning to walk (Few people who are not disabled
from a young age fail to learn to walk.)
• Eating (Few healthy people without mental problems
fail to master how to take in food.)
• Smiling (Few people who aren’t paralyzed or do not
have autism fail to learn to smile.)
• Singing (Almost everyone who is not mute can make
musical sounds with their voices, although the
attractiveness of their singing varies a lot.)

• Drawing (Most people who can hold a pencil, crayon,
or stick will be able to sketch something that is
recognizable either on paper or in the dirt.)
• Communicating to others (Most people primarily
rely on their voices; others use sign language or
• Sleeping (Hardly anyone fails to get some sleep
each week.)
• Learning (Almost everyone can learn something.)
• Telling the difference between day and night (Blind
people can use senses other than sight to notice shifts
in temperature and sounds associated with the sun’s
presence or absence.)

• Spending money (Almost everyone, even those with
modest mental capacities, can usually appreciate that
money can be exchanged for something they want.)
• Resting when tired (Few people deliberately keep busy
until so exhausted that they have to be hospitalized.)
• Hugging people (Only the armless find this to be
• Blowing out birthday candles (Few people who aren’t
on respirators lack enough coordination and lung capacity
to do this.)
• Opening an unlocked door (Almost everyone without
major physical limitations can operate a door’s

• Recognizing family members (Until dementia occurs,
people are very likely to recognize family members by
sight, touch, sound, and smell.)
• Telling the difference between an onion and an apple
(Although the shapes and sizes are somewhat similar,
other characteristics make accurate identification hard
to avoid.)
• Getting someone’s attention (Even those who don’t
know how to do this pleasantly will eventually make
enough of a fuss to attract someone who wants to quiet
• Dreaming while sleeping (Hardly anyone reports
never having had dreams.)
• Sitting (Few remain standing or lying down if they are
physically capable of sitting and want to do so.)

• Recognizing their names (People who cannot read will
usually master what their names looks like, how they
appear by touch in Braille for the blind, or what they
sound like.)
• Petting small friendly animals (Almost everyone enjoys
the experience and with practice learns to touch animals
in a gentle, pleasant way that animals respond positively
• Drawing away from something that’s burning them
(Most of those with a reduced sense of feel will
eventually smell that their flesh is being charred.)
• Moving away from something that smells bad (It
doesn’t take much of a foul odor to cause us to shift
• Kissing others (Some do this better than others.)

• Seeking out others (Most people are interested in
talking to and doing things with other people, and almost
everyone will look for help on occasion.)
• Moving away from danger (If you watch videos of
people in a dangerous situation, you see almost all those
who aren’t trained to save others heading toward a
safer location.)
• Remembering who has been kind to them (People
hope to bump into them again so the experience can
• Telling the difference between a rock and an animal
(A few animals appear to be a little like rocks, but closer
inspection usually reveals the answer when movement
occurs or does not occur.)
• Remembering that chocolate tastes good (Nothing more
need be said on this subject.)

• Requesting help when in danger (It may only be
frantic waving, but the signal will be unmistakable.)
• Avoiding what a person has good reason to be
physically afraid of (Few people other than highly
trained scientists and their assistants seek to be near
alligators, coral snakes, and black mambas because of
their reputations for harming people.)
• Remembering happy occasions with pleasure (Just
thinking about such events makes people feel better.)
• Helping people who have helped them (The sense of
obligation makes people feel uncomfortable until they
• Laughing while looking at monkeys (These little
creatures can tickle our fancies more than many of the
best comedians.)

• Putting on more clothes when it gets cold (Only those
who cannot find more clothes won’t do this.)
• Screaming when startled (Jump out from where you
cannot be seen, shout “boo” from behind someone
standing in a dark place, and listen to the evidence.)
• Picking up untended hundred dollar bills lying in front
of them (This can be an expensive experiment to
conduct, but some robbers have provided evidence by
tossing money into the air in hopes of slowing down the
police by attracting money grabbers.)
• Remembering where they live (Except for those with
amnesia, people get back home eventually.)
• Looking up while fireworks are exploding in the air
(Sighted people will be drawn by the bright colors, but
even blind people will be drawn by the sound.)

Copyright 2010 Donald W. Mitchell, All Rights Reserved.

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Step Two: Identify Reasons for Perfect or Near-Perfect Individual Adult Performance

“Here is what I have found,” says the Preacher,
“Adding one thing to the other to find out the reason, ….”

— Ecclesiastes 7:27 (NKJV)

Many people feel incapable of answering questions about
the reasons for certain behaviors. They quite accurately
perceive that they are not scientists, nor are they
particularly familiar with scientific research.

When called on to explain observed behavior, even those
with some ideas don’t want to be embarrassed by
someone who knows more than they do. As a result,
many people will just sit quietly hoping the questioner
will change the subject rather than reply as best they

Relax. Scientific explanations are not what you need to
appreciate the sources of perfection and near perfection.
You simply need to identify the predictable patterns that
underlie examples of individual perfect and near-perfect
behavior. If you can apply common sense to
understanding why you do what you do that’s perfect or
near perfect, you will supply helpful answers that you
can apply to improving performance in other

Let me help you get started by providing some reasons
for individual adult perfect and near-perfect behaviors,
while I leave you the fun of identifying even more
sophisticated and original explanations:

• Natural instincts (Before they are born, babies can been
seen sucking their thumbs in sonograms; and few babies
fail to learn to suck … the most efficient way for
newborns to obtain milk from their mothers or a bottle;
as a result, we shouldn’t be surprised to see that adults
can suck liquids through straws.)
• Reflex reactions (Few can resist either kicking out a
foot after being tapped on the knee with a rubber
hammer by a physician or giggling after being tickled.)
• Conscious awareness that is focused by some physical
needs until you act (Urgent needs to excrete and urinate
will concentrate your attention on finding a bathroom or
a private place to perform these bodily functions.)
• Dislike (Most people avoid what’s unpleasant, such as
the odor from a skunk’s scent gland.)
• Comfort (You can stand in the driving rain unprotected
while holding your closed umbrella, or you can open and
stand under it and not get so wet.)

• Emotional gratification gained through your action
(Throwing out your arms while greeting someone will
almost always lead to a heart-warming hug.)
• Avoiding embarrassment (A man whose pants aren’t
zipped will almost always take care of the oversight as
soon as he realizes his circumstance.)
• Being guided by the crowd (If you see people looking
up, you’ll feel an irresistible urge to look up, too.)
• Desire (Few men will look away from and ignore an
attractive woman who is determinedly trying to get
their attention while not wearing very many clothes.)
• Enjoyment (Most people are drawn to performing a
favorite activity that’s fun such as moving in rhythm
to favorite music.)

• Economic self-interest very obviously favors taking
action (You will be much worse off if you don’t take the
action, such as when you have an unredeemed winning
lottery ticket … you won’t get paid unless you turn it in.)
• Seeking social connections (Behaving well when first
meeting people will help to make a better first
• Wanting safety (Learning to perform certain activities
can make you more secure, such as those living in a home
surrounded by nearby water learning to swim.)
• Avoiding inconvenience (If there are two checkout
lines in a store, people will either go into the shorter one
or the one that is moving much faster.)
• Perceiving that overwhelming advantages of many
kinds favor the action (An example of such a choice is
deciding to live in a building rather than in a cave.)

I encourage you to add to the list. Doing so will deepen
your understanding of what the most powerful human
motivators are. I particularly encourage you to think
about the last category that I listed: overwhelming
advantages of many kinds favor the action. That
behavioral motivation is the key concept for structuring
situations so that individual adults will perform
something perfectly or almost perfectly.

Some people may react negatively to thinking about
human motivation, imagining that applying such
information is always manipulative and unethical.
Before dismissing the appropriateness of applying this
knowledge, realize you can increase motivation ethically
by providing people with more of what they want that’s
good for them while being totally open about how you
are doing it. For instance, most people would like to
spend more time having good, clean fun with their loved
ones. If you add to their own motivations to help them
in a transparent way to spend more time with loved
ones, what’s the harm?

Copyright 2010 Donald W. Mitchell, All Rights Reserved.

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Step Three: Identify at Least Fifty Examples of Perfect or Near- Perfect Group Performance

So we built the wall,
and the entire wall was joined together
up to half its height,
for the people had a mind to work.

— Nehemiah 4:6 (NKJV)

This verse from Nehemiah brings to mind the part of
Mark Twain’s classic coming-of-age novel,
Adventures of Tom Sawyer, where Tom’s Aunt
Polly sends him out to whitewash the fence. Tom,
wanting to take it easy on a hot day, decides to persuade
the other children to do his work for him. Pretending that
the work is very enjoyable and that he wouldn’t want to
share it for any reason, Tom gains a free work crew and
a good laugh. While this is a fictional story, it rings true:
People can be persuaded to do unpleasant (and even
improper) tasks if they believe that the tasks are
enjoyable. That’s one reason why so many youngsters
get into trouble.

I want you to beware of Tom Sawyer’s approach and
instead act like a responsible adult: Build on peoples’
self-interest in positive ways to help them gain what
really is good for them and that they already want.

Let’s look at some examples of where groups of children
or adults perform perfectly or near perfectly with little
effort to gain something that’s good for all concerned:

• Soldiers follow the order to stand “at ease.” (It’s a simple
stance to master and feels much more comfortable than
the “attention” position that precedes it … ironically, it’s
much easier to pay attention to what is being said while
“at ease” than while at “attention.”)
• People who see fire and smoke nearby and hear a fire
alarm will head for the exits with little delay. (In my
experience, even those who are paralyzed by fear will be
assisted out by those who aren’t so fearful.)
• Elementary schoolchildren leave after the final bell rings
in their classrooms. (After being cooped up for most of the
school day, children are ready for a change of pace and
place; in most cases, they are headed for sports activities,
visits with friends, or their rooms at home.)
• Football players leave the playing field at half time for
either the sideline or the locker room. (They know the
coach wants to speak to them, they are ready for a break,
and there is limited time before the second half starts.)
• Drivers go forward after a red light turns green.
(Inattentive drivers will be reminded to proceed either
by their passengers or by honking horns from the drivers
behind them, serving to safely move traffic forward.)

• People drive on the correct side of the road. (Doing the
opposite is usually much more hazardous.)
• Pedestrians walk on the sidewalk rather than down the
middle of a busy road. (There is usually less chance of
being hit by a vehicle while on the sidewalk.)
• Readers look at English words from left to right and
Hebrew words from right to left. (The letters make
more sense when viewed in those directions.)
• Writers spell words in the most common way used by
their readers. (It’s easier to be understood that way.)
• People greet others in the most common friendly way
for that community. (Otherwise, people may be
offended or confused.)

• Employees don’t go to work on major religious
holidays that they observe. (Christians who are not
emergency personnel choose to be with their families
and friends on Christmas.)
• Runners wait for the starter’s pistol before crossing
the starting line. (Otherwise they will be disqualified
after two “false” starts and there will not be a fair
contest of skill for all concerned.)
• Neighbors don’t steal each others’ birdbaths.
(Neighbors would probably notice; it’s illegal; they aren’t
very expensive so most people can afford their own; and
they are usually bulky, heavy, and messy to haul away.)
• Visitors rarely try to take valuable art from museums
during visiting hours. (It’s illegal, there are guards, and
there are antitheft measures in place.)
• People drive cars in forward gears rather than in
reverse on roadways. (It’s much safer and easier to do it
this way.)

• Drivers close windows to vehicles before entering a car
wash. (There are signs to remind people, the attendants
usually mention it, and being hit by water will usually
get someone’s attention if all else fails.)
• Skaters put on skates before stepping onto the ice in a
rink. (Otherwise they will probably slip and fall rather
than have a good time skating.)
• Football players don helmets before taking the field in
a game. (It’s pretty dangerous not to do so and someone
will remind those who forget.)
• Hockey players carry hockey sticks during games.
(It’s pretty hard to handle the puck without one.)
• Carpenters use a hammer rather than their fists to
drive in nails. (It works much better and is less painful.)

• Passengers almost always arrive safely after
commercial plane flights. (Serious injuries from
commercial aviation are practically nonexistent as a
percentage of all people who fly … the flight deck crew
members have their lives and safety at stake, too.)
• People receive bills sent by mail. (Companies wouldn’t
use mail services and postal employees would lose their
jobs unless the rate of lost envelopes was very low.)
• People drink treated water without becoming sick.
(It’s well known how to kill bacteria, it’s inexpensive to
accomplish, and laws require it for most municipalities.)
• Bank customers’ deposits are correctly credited to their
checking accounts. (Banks make their money by lending
a multiple of the deposits that they have on hand, and
customers soon leave a bank that shortchanges their
• Aides to politicians promptly return telephone calls a
month before an election. (They don’t want to run the
risk of annoying a voter who might tell lots of others.)

• Firemen respond promptly to an alarm. (Some people
enjoy this work so much and consider it so valuable
that they volunteer their services for no pay.)
• Sunday school teachers and their substitutes are on
time for their classes. (These volunteers want to do
God’s work and are so concerned about the children
they teach that they will seek out a reliable replacement
when necessary.)
• Adults arrive on time for their baptisms. (This is an
important spiritual event that they are probably looking
forward to doing as a sign of their obedience to God, and
baptisms aren’t conducted every day.)
• Prisoners are ready to go outside when it’s time for
their yard exercise. (Many prisoners find these brief
times when they aren’t cooped up indoors to be the
high points of their days.)
• Teenagers remember to go to their drivers’ license
test appointments. (They are anxious to obtain licenses
and know that missing the appointment will delay

• Newly elected officials take their oaths of office. (They
cannot serve until this swearing in occurs, and they get a
lot of publicity when they do.)
• Mortgage lenders cash the certified pay-off checks
they receive at property closings. (They will have no
money to lend from the transaction and earn no new
interest until they do.)
• Ringmasters open the formal part of circus
performances. (The show doesn’t shift into high gear
until the ringmasters begin their spiels, ringmasters love
the attention, and many children cannot understand
what’s going on without an explanation.)
• Magicians make items seem to disappear. (It’s one of
the main ways they “amaze” the audience.)
• Trainers feed fish to sea lions during performances at
sea life parks. (The food encourages the sea lions to

• Children show up to watch holiday parades that pass
their homes. (They love the excitement.)
• Christian families remember to decorate their
Christmas trees. (Joining with one another to decorate
the tree is one of many Christmas activities that families
• Children willingly leave their family cars and the
parking lot to enter Disneyland. (Wouldn’t you, if you
were still a child?)
• Politicians vote for themselves. (They can use an
absentee ballot if they will be away from their registered
polling places.)
• Advertisers provide materials to be presented during
the time they have purchased on television and radio.
(Otherwise, the advertiser will owe the contracted
amount but receive no benefit from the expense.)

• Heads of state accept invitations to speak at the United
Nations. (They and their countries will receive much
publicity as a result.)
• Business travelers put enough postage on the envelopes
that they use to send in their passport applications.
(Otherwise, the mail will just be returned to them,
delaying receipt of their passports.)
• Prison wardens feed the inmates. (Who wants to
maintain control in a prison full of hungry, angry
• Jail guards check visitors for weapons. (It’s
dangerous not to.)
• Judges sentence people found guilty of crimes. (They
are required by law to do so, and judges can lose their
jobs if they don’t sentence guilty defendants.)

• Gas stations sell fuel except during rationing. (It’s a
major source of their income and may also help attract
repair customers.)
• Supermarkets have food for sale. (It’s hard to imagine
they would call themselves supermarkets otherwise.)
• White-tablecloth restaurants offer menus to diners.
(I’ve only been to one that didn’t. The waiter told me
the chef would make anything I wanted so I should just
order what I liked to eat.)
• Shoe stores display shoes you can buy. (Otherwise,
why bother to display them?)
• Airlines have seats on sale for future flights. (Airlines
usually lose money and need the cash that advance
payments for future flights bring.)

Copyright 2010 Donald W. Mitchell, All Rights Reserved.

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Step Four: Identify Reasons for Perfect or Near-Perfect Group Performance

… then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently.

— Deuteronomy 13:14 (NKJV)

I suspect that the preceding list of group performances
has inspired many ideas for why certain actions are done
in a perfect or near-perfect manner. One reason for
having such ideas may be because I often grouped
together examples of similar motivations. Whenever
searching for explanations of perfect and near-perfect
individual or group performance, you will probably find
it helpful to start by combining examples that seem
similar to you in motivation. In this subsection, I
describe some of the common motivators that I had in
mind while preparing the list.

Let’s begin by looking for reasons that might explain
the first group of five examples. Here are some of the
common factors that I noticed about them:

• All of these situations have either been previously
experienced (such as leaving a classroom) or practiced
(such as through fire drills).
• There is some obvious, immediate benefit for those
who take the action. (Soldiers are more comfortable,
people feel more relaxed away from the apparent threat
of a nearby fire, schoolchildren do something they prefer,
football players improve their chances of playing well in
the second half, and drivers arrive sooner at where they
are headed.)
• The actions are consistent with the preferences of the
people involved. (No one is expecting them to do
something that is counter to what they like to do.)
• Those taking action are reminded of the right action by
seeing what others do.
• Authority favors the action.
• Someone has previously emphasized to each person
the right action to take.
• The information that leads to the action is
• There are potentially unpleasant consequences for not
acting in that way.

After appreciating how many influences are involved in
those five examples of where groups of children or adults
perform perfectly or near perfectly with little effort to
gain something that’s good for all concerned, you can see
why I like to use them. Even people who cannot
articulate why perfect or near-perfect performance
occurs in those circumstances will immediately
appreciate that some powerful human motivations are
at work.

You should have an easier time picking out the common
element in the second set of five examples (that begin
with driving down the correct side of the road): Here we
are simply looking at social conventions that make it
more convenient to accomplish either travel or
communication. Notice that such conventions can be
either legally required (such as on what side of the road
to drive) or informally enforced (such as how to greet
others in a friendly way).

The common element in the third set of five examples
(that includes drivers using forward gears rather than
reverse on roadways) may be a little harder to
appreciate: These examples describe ways of behaving
that allow ourselves and others to gain benefits. By not
stealing art while it’s on display, we don’t end up in jail
and the art is still available for us and others to enjoy on
another occasion. A combination of self-interest and
providing benefits for others can motivate high
performance. Notice that self-interest can be either
achieving something positive (obtaining something, such
as time with family) or avoiding something negative
(such as arrest or an accident).

Identifying the common element in the fourth set of
five examples (that contains the example of carpenters
driving nails with hammers rather than their fists)
should present few problems: The individual
advantages of behaving in a certain way are so strong
that almost everyone in a group will independently
choose to do the same thing. There’s an important lesson
here: Individual incentives, when strong enough, can
create group behavior without any group incentives.

I find the common element in the fifth set of examples
(the one that contains the example of bills being received
through the mail) to be particularly interesting: The
individual advantages to someone else of serving you
cause perfect and near-perfect performance that you
can rely on. In an organizational setting, the lesson is
that it’s very valuable to look for ways to align strong
personal motivations with the needs of those who are
served by the organization. In most cases, this
elementary lesson is ignored when designing work.
When such shortsightedness occurs, many faults and
flaws follow, almost all of which are avoidable.

The sixth set of examples (which includes firemen
responding to alarms) is actually a subset of the fifth
set, circumstances where self-motivation by the
individuals is so high that the organization doesn’t
need to provide any motivation to encourage the
performance that’s desired, even when most of the
benefit accrues to those who are served. Many
organizational leaders act on this insight by carefully
recruiting people to work who need no additional
encouragement or direction to perform in ways that
will be beneficial to all those who are supposed to be

The seventh set of examples (the one that has trainers
feeding sea lions after they perform tricks) describes how
necessities that are understood shape our responses. If
people know that nothing that they desire will happen
until a certain action occurs, they will perform the action
in order to gain future benefits. Such actions may include
things that no one is particularly eager to do. Placing the
unpleasant or unimportant tasks in a process so that they
precede something that everyone wants to occur will lead
most people to promptly do the tasks. Here is where we
have to be careful not to be unethical in using motivation
to engage people to do something that isn’t in their best
interests, as Tom Sawyer did with his friends.

The eighth set of examples (containing politicians voting
for themselves) provides straightforward
demonstrations of individuals being expected to act in
their own best interest. In many social situations, people
are encouraged to defer to others in exchange for gaining
some social esteem. Many sales-oriented businesses
operate by providing lots of incentives to make more
money. This approach is a problem when some people
may be harmed in the process (such as when
unscrupulous salespeople unload their merchandise on
people who cannot afford it and don’t know any better).

The ninth set of examples (the one about putting
enough postage on an envelope containing a passport
application) explores places where reasonable fear of
negative consequences may cause us to be careful to do
things that aren’t inherently pleasant or desirable.
(Searching visitors to a jail isn’t pleasant for anyone, but
finding yourself on the receiving end of a loaded gun
during an attempted jail break is even less desirable.)

The last set of examples simply looks at how
commercial enterprises operate: They exist to gain
customers and want to have something to provide
unless an unusual circumstance intervenes to make
that impossible (such as when gasoline rationing during
the 1970s led to some stations being unable to sell
gasoline because they couldn’t acquire any). These
situations show high motivation because owners want
to prosper, employees want to get and keep jobs, and
customers need some of what is offered. The natural
alignment of those interests can be easily disturbed so
that different parties act at cross-purposes, such as
when a gas station tries to sell the lowest quality gas at
the highest possible price, employees want to do the
least amount of work, and customers have few
alternatives to choose from.

For your convenience, here is a summary of the
motivational influences that were important for each
of these ten sets of examples:

1. Previous experience or practice; an obvious,
immediate benefit;
preferred actions; other people model ideal behavior;
authority favors the action; prior encouragement;
unambiguous information; and potentially unpleasant
consequences for not acting
2. Social conventions that make it more convenient to
accomplish either travel or communication
3. Behaving in ways that allow those taking actions and
others to gain benefits
4. Overwhelming advantages for each person acting
5. Strong individual advantages for each person acting in
ways that serve others’ interests
6. High self-motivation
7. Meaningful rewards greater than any unpleasantness
and annoying requirements
8. Simple self-interest
9. Fear of potential negative consequences
10. Commercial self-interest

As I revealed these motivations, you may have been
reminded of the kind of writing that philosophers did in
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Those writers
often attempted to examine possible solutions through
considering “normal” human behavior in different
circumstances. There is much wisdom in letting people
behave as they naturally seek to do; however, there is
even greater wisdom in encouraging people to draw on
their best qualities of wanting to serve others as well as
themselves so that even more perfect results occur.
Let’s look next at how to draw on the kind of lessons I
have just shared with you to develop an ideal practice.

Copyright 2010 Donald W. Mitchell, All Rights Reserved.

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Step Five: Identify the Most Helpful Motivations to Draw on for Encouraging Perfect or Near-Perfect Group Performance

But command Joshua,
and encourage him and strengthen him;
for he shall go over before this people,
and he shall cause them to inherit
the land which you will see.

— Deuteronomy 3:28 (NKJV)

Some people will use any excuse to avoid assembling a
large number of helpful motivations to encourage
perfect or near-perfect group performance in a given
situation. To me, that reluctance means that the
person seeking to create a solution isn’t sufficiently
motivated by the opportunity to improve.

When you find yourself acting this way, it’s good to
ask yourself why you aren’t more motivated. If you
can find the reason, you may be able to reshape your
thinking by looking for more reasons to do the best
possible job. For instance, some people may
concentrate initially on the personal benefits, such as
earning more money, and feel conflicted. Without
looking at the situation more closely, these people
may be assuming that they can only have more if
someone else loses or keeps less, such as when people
are gambling against one another or competing in an
athletic contest for a prize. There are also many
situations where creating more for one person or group
also provides more for all, such as when a company sells
more of a product that produces value for customers
way above its price, which might be the case for laptop
computers that are used by adult professionals and for
services such as access to medical libraries when they
are used by physicians.

Even after such an investigation into potential benefits
reveals many more reasons why improving motivation
and performance is good for all, work may still lag on
encouraging perfect or near-perfect group performance.
I find that some people just aren’t very interested in
creating breakthroughs or thinking about improving
motivation. Others are easily distracted from any
complex task. Still other people may have higher
priorities elsewhere, such as caring for a loved one’s
serious illness.

Whenever you cannot motivate yourself sufficiently to
work on this step’s task to the utmost of your ability, you
should turn the assignment over to someone who finds
the work to be endlessly interesting, valuable, and
rewarding: That’s one of the lessons of step seven of
the 2,000 percent solution process (Identify the Right
People and Provide the Right Motivation to implement
the 2,000 percent solution). Since you probably won’t
provide much added motivation for the person who
gains the assignment, be sure to select someone who is
strongly self-motivated to do a great job and share all
that you know about why it’s a wonderful idea to
encourage groups to perform perfectly or nearly
perfectly in the situation.

Whoever is going to design the process should then
focus on identifying the most powerful forms of
motivation that will encourage perfect or near-perfect
group performance. A good starting place is to
describe what is intended to be accomplished, to list
the tasks required to make those accomplishments
more likely, and to create an inventory of all the
reasons that might motivate someone to want to do
an especially good job with the tasks. In developing
such an inventory, it’s very helpful to involve other
people, especially those whose backgrounds and
interests are different from the person who created
the description, list of tasks, and inventory. Ideally,
ask people to help with the inventory who represent
many different points within the spectrum of the
backgrounds and experiences of those who will
probably be performing the tasks.

Next, rewrite the description, tasks, and inventory of
motivations list to make the motivational reasons
clearer and to more accurately express the opportunity
to perform well. Then show the rewriting to some other
people and ask for their reactions to what you have
described and listed to see if they correctly perceive
what you are trying to express. Revise the description,
tasks, and inventory list to correct any problems that
are uncovered.

At this point, show the description, tasks, and inventory
list either to all the people you want to influence because
they will be doing the tasks or, if there are too many
people involved to contact everyone, to a large-enough
random sample of those people to be statistically
accurate. Ask each person you contact to describe how
important each of the purposes is on a scale from one to
ten for them, with ten being the most motivating
anything could be and one being not motivating at all.

Analyze the reactions to see which sources of motivation
are most powerful (have a point score near ten) and are
effective with a lot of different people who will be doing
the tasks. In making these comparisons, you want to
identify the set of motivating factors that will provide
the strongest reasons to act for the most people.
Ideally, you would like each person to have at least five
motivating factors that they rate at nine or higher. That
won’t happen in many cases so, if necessary, you’ll be
looking instead for combinations of motivating factors
that will provide each person who will be doing the
tasks with at least three reasons that they rate at
seven or higher. If you can do better than reaching
that minimum, you should.

The obvious question at this point is “what do I do if
there aren’t three reasons ranked at least seven points
or higher for each person?” Should that occur, you have
four choices:

1. Consider if selective assignments can be used to
determine who works on the tasks so that you can
employ only the most motivated people.
2. Redesign what needs to be done to include more
strong motivating influences.
3. Shift what is to be accomplished to include more
results that are highly motivating.
4. Employ some combination of the first three choices.

Once you have found which forms of motivation to
emphasize, you are ready to design the training and
tasks that will include them. That’s the subject of
Step Six.

Copyright 2010 Donald W. Mitchell All Rights Reserved.

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Step Six: Design the Training and Tasks to Employ the Helpful Motivations You Want to Use to Encourage Near-Perfect Performance

These things command and teach.

— 1 Timothy 4:11 (NKJV)

While designing the training and tasks to achieve
various purposes will be different from instance to
instance, let me focus on some of the issues and
opportunities that are most likely to arise. To start
with, I have observed that many training and task
designers take shortcuts that cause them to miss
touching some of the important bases for achieving
success. Much like the rules of baseball dictate that
a player who hits the ball over the stadium fence
won’t score if he or she skips a base before arriving
at home plate, the designers of training and tasks
will not accomplish all that is possible when they
haven’t touched important motivational bases.

Let me be sure I haven’t misled you by focusing in
Step Five of this blueprint on identifying the
motivations that work for almost everyone:
Motivations that aren’t on that list are still going to
be important. Don’t miss the chance to employ the
power of those other motivations as well, just so long
as these motivating factors don’t discourage anyone.
You can avoid reducing motivation by simply asking
those who will be doing the tasks if any of the factors
discourage them.

Let me talk about what some of these common, but not
nearly universal, supporting motivations are. As we saw
in many of the group examples of perfect and near-
perfect performance, many people will perform the right
way because they want to fit in or seek approval from
others. Those motivations are most likely to occur when
the people doing the tasks know and like those they do
the activities with or for. As a result, there’s an
important opportunity to build long-term motivation by
designing training and tasks so that those who are doing
them get to know and like one another. While that
suggestion of encouraging camaraderie may seem like
an obvious point, many workers will tell you that they
don’t know very much about some of the people they
work with … and don’t like many of the people they
come into contact with every day at work. In fact, some
bosses encourage hostility among coworkers to make
them easier to control.

Another strong influence is for people to model their
behavior on what everyone else does. Here again, the
influence works best if people have a lot of respect and
appreciation for those they are modeling. As a result,
training and recognition activities can help identify those
who are the models who should be followed. Otherwise,
people will often emulate those who are most physically
attractive and pleasantly spoken, even if they don’t
perform properly.

Most people lack some amount of healthy self-esteem
and will enjoy gaining better self-appreciation when they
develop skill and effectiveness in the needed tasks. An
excellent way to increase the pleasure from building
self-esteem is by letting others know about a person’s
progress. To do so might mean holding an awards
ceremony where friends and family are encouraged to
attend for a fun time or by providing a gift certificate
to take friends and family out to dinner.

Boredom and indifference can be enemies of perfect
and near-perfect performance. I remember taking tap
dancing lessons as a youngster with a partner who was
much younger than me and who had trouble
remembering the steps. Since we did each step
together, a mistake by either of us required that we
repeat what we had just done. If my partner made the
same mistakes time after time, I would become so
bored that after awhile I couldn’t do my part either,
even if I knew it quite well. To help people stay fresh in
appreciating the situation and to be happily focused on
what they are doing, it’s valuable to include frequent
novelty into what’s being done. However, in providing
these novelties, it’s important not to let them become
distractions. Novelties should just be a sideshow and not
be confused with the main event.

People also like to feel connected to something
important. Disney and Ritz-Carlton have worked hard
to supply this motivation by providing their employees
with a deep understanding of what the companies stand
for. Disney, for example, requires new employees to
spend two weeks learning about the company’s
entertainment heritage in supporting families before
they begin any job-specific training.

During those two weeks, many new employees realize
that they don’t feel comfortable representing that
heritage and resign. That’s a much better time to
identify people with motivational mismatches than after
someone has started on the job or volunteer activity. If
your organization has a rich heritage that will motivate
some to want to do a better job and to stay more alert,
be sure that heritage is explained and appreciated by
those who will be doing the tasks.

Disney and Ritz-Carlton do something else that you
should consider: The companies encourage people doing
any task to feel they are essential to the organization’s
success. Disney employees are told that they are “cast
members,” people who are performing in ways that will
influence the experiences and enjoyment of the
potentially engaged and enthusiastic audience, the
customers. Ritz-Carlton employees are told that they
are “Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and
Gentlemen.” Who wouldn’t enjoy doing that? By
creating such a special role for each person, those
with tasks to do are more likely to be looking for
opportunities to solve problems, to make life better
for customers, and to serve others rather than
trying to make the situation better only for

People are also interested in understanding the
impact of what they do. Take time to measure their
performance and its effects on others, and let them
regularly see the results. By showing where
improvements are possible, more attention will be
placed on those areas: This is an important lesson that
we can learn from applying the second step in the
2,000 percent solution process (Decide What to

Take task doers to observe the impact of their activities
on customers and other stakeholders whom they don’t
normally see, and you can have an even bigger
motivational impact. Being given this opportunity makes
people feel that they are being invested in, seeing
themselves more as someone the organization cares
about. Observing the consequences of mistakes and
perfect performance can also provide strong ongoing
motivation to avoid errors, particularly when the cost of
errors is high to those who are affected.

Almost everyone who starts a new job is excited about
the opportunity, looking forward to doing a good job
and to making career progress with the organization. If
you come back a few months later, most new employees
will tell you that they don’t have the tools they need to
do a good job, the organization doesn’t properly support
their efforts, and their boss doesn’t care about them.
What a waste of motivation! A better approach is to
design tasks so that those who do the work have better
tools than what they expect, more support than
they had hoped for, and more caring interactions with
their bosses than they have experienced before. To
accomplish these things simply requires finding out
what the beliefs and expectations are of those who
will be asked to do the tasks and then to design the
training, tasks, and organizational support to provide
high levels of these kinds of encouragement. In
particular, a lot can be accomplished by having
supervisors and colleagues show appreciation for
learning, for good results, and for going beyond what is
normally expected. On a regular basis, someone should
sit down with each person to help plan future career
steps, so that the people doing the tasks understand how
this work ultimately fits into what the organization hopes
they will accomplish. Connecting tasks to career progress
engages more of a person’s motivations that are based on

Testing is essential to finding mistakes before making
permanent any training or task method. Most
organizations plan either no testing or far too little. A
better approach is to plan to continually experiment
with ways to improve motivation and performance
while making it clear to those involved that there are
bound to be flaws that need to be identified and to be
removed. In this way, those who do the work can be
helped to understand that they should provide and
encourage improvements. If the organization also helps
people learn how to analyze and develop solutions, the
results will be even better.

Copyright 2010 Donald W. Mitchell, All Rights Reserved

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Step Seven: Continually Improve Training and Tasks Using the Helpful Motivations You Want to Draw on for Encouraging Near-Perfect Performance

Therefore we do not lose heart.
Even though our outward man is perishing,
yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

— 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NKJV)

Times change. Opinions shift. People mature. New
influences arise. All such variations make it important
to continually improve training and tasks to make them
more relevant to and rewarding for those who do the
tasks and those who benefit from their actions. Three
sources of inquiry can direct us closer to near-perfect
group performance:

1. Examine those who aren’t being considered for doing
the tasks.
2. Consider the latest thinking and attitudes of those
who are doing the tasks.
3. Learn how the beneficiaries feel about what they are

Let me briefly examine each performance perspective
to describe how more can be learned and accomplished,
beginning with those who aren’t being hired or asked to
do the tasks. Over time, employers usually recruit and
hire people who are much like themselves. You’ll often
see workplaces and volunteer activities where each
person looks almost like a clone of the next person.
What’s even more likely to be true is that their thinking
is in lockstep. That’s a good trait if you have a perfect
idea of what needs to be done. Otherwise, it’s very
harmful … acting more like blinders that focus
attention in the wrong direction.

In many organizations, such homogenous staffs are
often seen as the result of prejudice, requiring changes
due to either a legal or a moral responsibility. Those
ethical perspectives may be true in a given instance,
but I think they miss a more important point: If an
organizational unit fails to draw on a large cross-
section of people, it is impoverished in terms of being
an interesting place to work where people can learn to
perform better. Customers miss opportunities to
benefit. Everyone is worse off.

Contrary to the view that narrow hiring practices are
primarily excuses for discrimination, my experience
has been that the practices more often reflect a form of
narcissism. The people doing the hiring are looking for
people who will admire and model them. When that
result is achieved, it isn’t good for anyone and certainly
doesn’t encourage near-perfect group performance.

It’s very helpful to grasp why different kinds of people
either aren’t being hired or retained by an organization.
Do they not apply? If so, there may be problems with
making potential applicants aware of the jobs or with the
motivations that are being provided. Do they apply
but not rate well in interviews? If that’s the case, the
interviews may be crafted too narrowly to grasp all the
elements of what someone can provide. Do they get the
jobs or the assignments but find the tasks or
motivations to be unsatisfying and quit? In that
circumstance, it may well be that the organization is
long overdue to reconsider what motivations are
offered and how the training and tasks are done.

Leaders also need to be up-to-date on what those doing
the tasks are thinking and feeling. Otherwise, what were
once highly motivating tasks will become boring and
unrewarding, and performance will decline. A
potentially motivating offset can be to shift who does
the tasks so that everyone becomes trained in how to do
a broad range of what needs to be done. When that
cross-training occurs and experience grows, fewer
problems occur when someone is out sick or leaves for
another position. A more substantial benefit is that
those who do the tasks develop a better sense of how
everything fits together. As a result, helpful
improvement suggestions will increase. Some workers
may instead be more motivated by focusing on what
they are doing. It would be discouraging and
distracting to cross-train these employees. Keep
asking. Views may change and leaders’ responses
should, too.

Leaders can also gain a lot of perspective by spending
full days working at these tasks alongside those who
normally do them. During such hands-on experiences,
perspectives shift to provide better understanding of
what the problems are that create mistakes and how
motivating or discouraging the circumstances are.
Spend enough time with the regular workers, and they
will begin to tell you things that you need to know but
that have been bottled up for one reason or another.

In addition, organizations gain when those who have
been doing the task for a long time are encouraged to
rethink what the purposes of the organization should
be and how to achieve those purposes. As part of such
a fundamental review, it is very valuable to visit and
consider methods employed in noncompeting
organizations that reflect totally different approaches.

For instance, assembly lines lead to a lot of mistakes
and higher costs as people scramble to deal with
problems without stopping the assembly line. Someone
who has worked on an assembly line for many years
would well know that near perfection isn’t going to
happen on a traditional assembly line. Let those
assemblers visit organizations that use team and group
assembly, and they will be very open to the advantages
of greater cooperation in a friendly context where
people can more easily assist one another. By contrast,
if you send managers and supervisors to investigate
the same methods and they report negatively about the
opportunity, realize that self-interest may be at work
because their jobs wouldn’t be as important in such an

Even when the training or the task itself doesn’t need
to be redesigned, the forms of motivation may still need
to be. Employees and volunteers can easily become
cynical about new motivational programs that feature
slogans, signs, and hoopla but don’t connect with their
own sense of what’s important and right to do. Let those
same people help design and explain new motivational
programs and opportunities, and their sincerity will
move hearts and minds toward making many

Beneficiaries of near-perfect work change their minds,
develop new needs, shift their attention, and look for
variety. Keep providing them with what was once their
ideal, and you will eventually dissatisfy them. For
instance, there was a time when providing bigger and
gaudier tail fins was a factor in what vehicle would be

More recently, almost everyone wanted as large and
high a vehicle as possible, regardless of gas mileage.
After gasoline prices rose above $4.00 a gallon, sales
of gas-sipping, smaller vehicles began to take off

Even in what seems like a straightforward area such as
improving quality, the same issue exists. When quality
is poor in offerings, customers will be most concerned
about the primary functionality of the offering. For a
vehicle, a functionality issue might be how often it
breaks down and has to be repaired. After functionality
is acceptable, many customers will start to be concerned
about quality issues related to appearance. In a vehicle,
this might relate to how good the paint job looks. Once
those problems are solved, customer preferences may
well emphasize making life more convenient for them
such as how well the vehicle’s cup holders accommodate
a variety of beverage container sizes and shapes.

In addition, customer needs with regard to what they
already use change over time. Companies tend to focus
on what customers care about near the time of a
purchase decision and not so much the rest of the
time. For instance, vehicle manufacturers don’t want
you to drive their product until it falls apart. They
would prefer that you buy a new one every year. To
encourage more sales, they steadily increase the
prices of parts on older models so that at some point
it becomes cheaper to buy a new vehicle rather than
to retain the older one, even if you prefer the older
one. Someone who feels victimized by the parts
pricing of the current vehicle’s manufacturer may seek
out a different manufacturer for the next vehicle who
doesn’t gouge customers so much with high prices for
replacement parts.

New business environments may raise totally new
issues. For instance, during the recession that started
in 2008, unemployment in the United States grew by
more than at any other time since the 1930s. When
some automotive companies went bankrupt, many
people who made auto parts lost good-paying jobs
with few prospects for obtaining equally attractive
new ones. Someone who was concerned about the
pain to individuals and families that was created by
this economic environment might want to know how
the purchase of a vehicle would affect people who were
or might become unemployed. Without paying
attention to what motivates customers, a vehicle
manufacturer with a good story for helping
employment might fail to tell that story.

Copyright 2010 Donald W. Mitchell All Rights Reserved

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Step Eight: Repeat the First Seven Steps

Will You not revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?

— Psalm 85:6 (NKJV)

As with the 2,000 percent solution process, repetition
of the first seven steps of this blueprint yields
exponential increases in performance. When you
repeat those steps, you will be astonished by how
many more ways you can describe and supply
motivations that encourage perfect and near-perfect
performance. Repeat these seven steps as often as
possible to strengthen your knowledge of and skills in
improving performance.

Copyright 2010 Donald W. Mitchell, All Rights Reserved.

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