More than money: psychic income

More than money: psychic income

The phone rang early on a December morning, kind of unusual for the holiday season. A client was calling to ask for help planning a meeting he hoped would ignite his leadership team to reach stretch goals in the coming year.

After the call, we talked about the unique significance repeat business has for us as consultants. It means we’ve got more than a project; we’ve got a colleague, someone who considers us a proven asset, worth reinvesting in. We’ve also got a chance to expand our knowledge and build new relationships.

We agreed that these things, in themselves and regardless of the particulars of the engagement to come, are a huge part of our “psychic” income. You may be familiar with the term; it refers to enrichment that comes in the form of anything but money: satisfaction, pride, meaningful work, acknowledgement, helping a novice flex new muscles…nothing to which we can assign monetary value but a quality of experience that makes us feel exceptionally good about our contribution, and inspires us to continue adding value at the highest level. Psychic income also helps to sustain us through the inevitable challenges and rough spots of a corporate career, giving us the stamina to break through obstacles and arrive at the next level of achievement and beyond.

One client told us about how he’s mastered this principle with his team. Every team member must come to their performance review with one project they’d like to pursue for the year, outside their core responsibilities. “Make me a business case for it,” he says, “tell me how it will benefit us while it challenges you, and you’ve got yourself a deal.” This one strategy, he says, gives his Division one of the highest retention rates in the company. “Autonomy and professional development mean so much more to people than we realize.”

Another client confides: “I am high as a kite when I can turn an impossible situation around…break through a wall of resistance and achieve something significant for one of our clients.”

And another: “Nothing motivates me more than seeing my team running on all eight cylinders…everyone with a critical role to play, and playing it really well.”

Still another: “I live for stretch goals.  Give me an impossible goal, and watch me run.  I love to feel hungry.”




What are the sources of your psychic income?  When are you most gratified and energized?  Under what circumstances are you most likely to put forth your most inspired effort?

Take some uninterrupted time to recall the experiences that generate psychic income for you.  Then begin to generate more of these peak experiences:  deliberately create a new challenge for yourself, set a goal that’s a serious stretch, get cross-trained in a complementary discipline, mentor a more junior colleague, nurture an important professional relationship, or seek out a leadership role.

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