"The thing about excellence is that people don't learn to be excellent by failure and negative consequence, ever," he said "They just don't - the neural patterns don't exist. People learn avoidance by negative example and nothing else. To compel action, people must get positive consequence for proper action. Even the most minute positive action and reward teaches a touch of excellent, when grave mistakes and punishment cannot. It's in our nerve cells. If you want to improve, pay attention to the catastrophes you've avoided, and how you did so."
"Holy crap," I said, "a talking cactus!"
The spine thing wasn't working out so they decided to try advice instead.