Last night I watched the new season of the television show The Amazing Race. I have been a fan of the show since the beginning and I enjoy watching the team dynamics as the show progresses from Day 1 to the finale. The overall concept is teams of 2 people travel around the world encountering challenges and roadblocks along the way. The end reward is $1,000,000 to the team that wins.

As I watched the different teams interact I noticed that the teams each year can be categorized into different groups. The same types of teams end-up being casted on the show. There are the athletes, newly engaged couple, related couple, oddballs, brainy, older, rocky relationship, etc. I am sure the casting is done primarily to mix up the groups so there is tension, good competition, and some laughter in between the madness of racing around the world.

The other thing I noticed is the Four Drive model of motivation working within the team dynamics.

Acquire and Achieve: Clearly the teams are competing to win a prize, a smacking $1,000,000. Not a small sum of money and one that kicks up the competitive gears when things tart getting tough. In addition, achieving the success of winning the Amazing Race has a sense of accomplishment and notoriety in and of itself.  It is also interesting to watch the individual challenges and the faces of individuals after they are successful – one can actually see the sense of achievement being felt after completing a challenge well. 

Bond and Belong: The teams of 2 people are inherently bonded as they have an established relationship prior to going on the show. The relationships are tested through the various challenges and obstacles met along the competition. Many of the contestants have chosen to go on the show to test their relationship to see if it will withstand the pressure of such a rigorous competition. Some make it through and are stronger because of the experience while others crash and burn without any sign of recovery.  The other piece is the contestants have a sense of belonging to a group of people that have done the Amazing Race before them. It is a shared experience not only with their current competitors but with the ones that have competed before them. A small group of the world’s population and they share an experience that brings them together.

Challenge and Comprehend: The Amazing Race is set up to challenge the contestants mentally and physically. The various roadblocks along the way can be exhausting on top of the fact that they have just traveled half way around the world with little or no sleep. Each day the teams are faced with numerous challenges from the mundane (catching a bus) to the extreme (moving heavy mud around or herding ducks).  This is pushing the mental and physical capabilities of the contestants at every corner. In addition, add in the piece of understanding the norms and behaviors of a different culture it is amazing that the contestants make it out of the airports.

Defend and Define: This drive comes out full force in a competition for $1,000,000. I have seen teams lie, cheat, and manipulate their way to the finish line while others have defined themselves in a different way.  Some teams try and stick to their values of being nice, helping out other teams, and working with an alliance. The teams that take the nice route end-up having a few speed bumps along the way but in the end they learn a lot about what pushes them to their breaking point. How they define who they are as team and how they defend it is fun to watch.

I encourage you to work with the Four Drive model as you watch your favorite television shows and within your day-to-day work environment. You might be surprised to find some of the same ‘characters’ present in your workplace utilizing the four drives to motivate them to the finish line.