The Scent of Success

One of the strangest looks I get when delivering a training program on Juggling Elephants is when I ask participants to describe a "smell" that would be associated with success with their new lineup. It's one of those perfect "aha" moments because all I have to do is say, "Don't believe in the power of smell? How about your grandparent's home? Fresh cut grass? A high school gym? (Hey, I didn't say they were all positive.)

Our sense of smell is the strongest emotional connection we have to a place or event. Read the article, The Nose, An Emotional Time Machine, to find out the science behind this fact. While the article focuses much of its time on how people can quickly connect with their past using their olfaction (our sense of smell), we can also use it as a motivating reminder of the value of doing something differently-and getting different results. Examples for me include:

  • Fresh cut grass. It reminds me that if I focus and get my tasks done, I'll be able to go leave work at a decent hour and enjoy time outside with my children, wife and yes, my Labrador retriever.
  • A plate of cheese fries from Outback. We use this delectable dish as a celebration of some accomplishment-personal or business. (Also works well for the sense of taste)
  • Fresh air first thing in the morning. It reminds me of the upcoming intermission I will have in the mountains of NC. Smelling the fresh air encourages me to buckle down this week and work hard on my lineup so that I can really savor the time in the mountains this weekend.

Yours may be very different for where you are in your particular situation. If you are in a small business, the smell of fresh paint or sheet rock may be your sensual trigger that if you focus on growing your business, you'll soon be able to move to a larger location. If you are in the market for a new job, the smell of a copier may be motivating to you. It helps you visualize copies of your wonderful resume being duplicated for dissemination to all those potential employers.

Still don't believe me? Try this test. The next time someone you know gets a new car-take a deep breath while sitting in it-I would be willing to wager that the smell motivates you to either freshen up your old vehicle-or work hard to eventually get a new(er) one yourself.