Short-term Effectiveness vs Long-term Resilience

Seth Godin, writing about Self, Community and Motivation, explains that in the short term, you can get people to do what’s needed by replacing a “rational, generous, community mindset” with “an immediate and self-focused desire to be safe.”

In the current pandemic, public health officials didn’t appeal to you should wear masks to protect strangers from getting sick, but by implying “if you touch someone, you will die almost instantly and quite horribly. And people, already frightened, embraced the feeling.”

(…) short-term market needs are often efficiently filled by short-term selfish behavior. Resilience comes from a longer-term and more community-focused outlook. The question is: Once people catch the virus and get through it (as most people will) and recover (as more than 9 out of 10 will), what will replace the selfish panic?

Resorting to short-term motivation can be, in some circumstances, an effective hack. If you resort to it too often, it teaches people to be selfish in the long-term.

culture generosity heroes long-term short-term

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