Saturday, February 7, 2015

Motivation is what separates the winners from the losers in life.with Team Thayer

I don't care what it is that you want out of life, health, wealth, love, or happiness, you will have to draw on intense powers of motivation to get it.

Today I was reading two books that got my mind spinning on the subject from the Nobel peace prize winner, Elie Wiesel and his book "Open Heart" and Seth Godin's "The Dip."

Here is a quick overview to five new ways to motivate yourself:

1. Learn when to quit: The hard wiring of you brain is very good at knowing when you are spinning your wheels doing something that is not inline with your 'end game' goal. Maybe it's a mindless career in a 9-5 job you hate, or a relationship with someone you know is the wrong person. 

No matter how hard you try you probably will never be able to trick your mind into getting motivated around something that you know deep down is the wrong thing to be doing. It's better to just quit and make a big change.

Seth Godin says in "The Dip":

"Sometimes we get discouraged and turn to inspirational writing, like stuff from Vince Lombardi: 'Quitters never win and winners never quit.' Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time...

Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most. Extraordinary benefits also accrue to the tiny majority with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something new. Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other.”


Most of us are either birds or bulldogs. Birds fly off at the first sign of trouble. Bulldogs hold on and don't let go.

Looking back at my life I tend to be a bulldog. Sometimes it helps me. Sometimes it backfires on me. 

The solution is the to find the balance.

How can you avoid being the bird or the bulldog?


2. Control your contrasts: Jonathan Haidt, the famous NYU professor, told me that if you make $1 million dollars and then you move into a neighborhood where everyone makes $10 million dollars, you will not feel contented even though you are now a millionaire. 

Our brain uses a relative scale to measure. 

It's the same with motivation. You must be careful of who you contrast your life with. Motivation comes from comparing your current state with the right people. That's why I talk about the law of 33% in my TED talk. You have to spend 33% of your time around people more motivated than you.

The other day my highly successful buddy was down visiting me. He started a company a few years ago and is now making about $500k to $1 million a DAY! I told him, "Let's go see a movie." He replied, "Tai, recreation is overrated. Let's keep working."

He was right. He reset my expectations about the amount of recreation a human really needs to be happy. He is on his path towards an end goal that he is passionate about. Of course recreation doesn't motivate him much anymore.

And this contrast can be taken further. Elie Wiesel was 15 when he was sent to Auschwitz, the concentration camp. He saw his little 5 year old sister taken away and gassed. When he was freed from the death camp, he never forgot. He had a powerful contrast. He new how bad things could get. So years later at 82 after he was recovering from open heart surgery he wrote, "What is different is that I now know that every moment is a new beginning, every handshake a promise."

His experience transformed his contrasts. 

So be sure to not just stay in your bubble. Get out in your city. Visit those poorer than you. Visit those richer than you. Visit a third world country. Volunteer at an old folks home. 

Keep things in perspective.

Motivation comes from contrasts and accurate perspective.