How to Motivate Yourself

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Scenario: Dude, just follow how those pyramid/MLM schemes try to freakishly motivate people: Just slap a picture of a big freakin' $50 million yacht on your bedroom mirror, then BAM! You'll be rockin' that $50 million in no time. Yay! Yay!"

  • First: pyramid schemes suck.
  • Second, and more on-topic: motivating yourself with external rewards kills the superstar inside of you.

"But I read a study that said money motivates you!"

Sure, money, status, fame, cars, yachts can motivate you. But there's a problem with that: External motivators drives the "I'll-perform-just-enough, but-not-more" mindset.

  • Instead of building a spectacular business, you'll build a crap shack -- and hope it'll buy you a yacht.
  • Instead of being the most ridiculously awesome marketing guru, you'll write an unoriginal and uninspiring book -- and hope it'll buy you status.
  • Instead of being a sensational World-Cup-caliber soccer player, you'll practice apathetically -- and hope it'll buy you fame.

External motivators leads to mediocrity.

If you're trying to motivate yourself with a sweet Bugatti Veyron, a $50 million yacht, and landing on the cover of Forbes, take heed: mediocrity doesn't produce billionaires. External motivators rarely get you to perform what's necessary to achieve them. Instead, it drives you to become one complacent sucka, who doesn't care about doing the work that's needed to get you the riches you worship.

So, what's the right motivator?

As corny, cheesy, and super-geekish as it may seem: Intrinsic motivation. The love for your craft. The inner reward you get from doing something. What made Sam Walton, Sergey Brin & Larry Page, Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, and any other superstar-according-to-the-world successful?

  1. Sam Walton had a passion for building local communities.
  2. The Google founders immersed themselves in web technology.
  3. Michael Jordan love the game of basketball.
  4. Einstein saw a world of unsolved problems.

The love for your craft drives you to do ridiculous things.

Harvard's Teresa Amabile studied the best:

When asked what makes the difference between creative scientists and those who are less creative:
  1. The Nobel-prizewinning physicist Arthur Schawlow said, "The labor-of-love aspect is important. The most successful scientists often are not the most talented, but the ones who are just impelled by curiosity. They've got to know what the answer is."

  2. Albert Einstein talked about intrinsic motivation as "the enjoyment of seeing and searching."

  3. The novelist John Irving, in discussing the very long hours he put into his writing, said, "The unspoken factor is love. The reason I can work so hard at my writing is that it's not work for me."

  4. And Michael Jordan, perhaps the most creative basketball player ever, had a "love of the game" clause inserted into his contract; he insisted that he be free to play pick-up basketball games any time he wished.

Love what you do.

Whether it's your business industry, a client project, or a pickup basketball game, when you seek intrinsic rewards from your craft, you'll rock the shiznit out it.

That Question

It's a simple, sexy question to keep yourself in check: If you removed external rewards (e.g. money, fame, status, etc.) from what you're doing, would you still do it? So when you're out changing the world today, remember:

Love what you do. You'll kick-ass doing it.

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Posted on August 29

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