What Motivates You?

That’s kind of a big question for a Friday morning, isn’t it? Admittedly, it’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to over the past few months. As someone who doesn’t vocalize feelings very well, introspective thoughts can be very overwhelming to me. I know I’m not alone in that either. Not many people enjoy self-evaluation or examination. There’s not a person on this planet who is comfortable with every fiber of their being, who doesn’t have at least one issue deep down they’d like to have resolved, or some character flaw they’d prefer to not have rear its ugly head when it is most inconvenient. But we are humans. And humans are rather resilient creatures with an inherent ability to improve and advance. So, what is it that drives us? The more I have thought about this, I can’t help but boil it down to two simple things: the joy of success or the fear of failure. In a world full of gray, motivation is black and white. You yearn for success or you’re afraid of failure.

There’s nothing like seeing the fruits of your labor pay off. Unless your last name is “Jenner” success doesn’t come easy. With success comes hard work. It takes effort to complete a project, resolve an issue, meet a deadline, solve a problem, or even repair a relationship. And if at the end you get the result you wanted; it is extremely rewarding. If you’ve won anything or achieved anything in your time on this earth, you know what I am talking about. In the thick of it, the obstacle may seem too big, the road too long, the days too short, or the pain too much. But when it’s all over and you’ve conquered whatever it is you set out to overcome, you stand there in reflection at the accomplishments you’ve made and the goals you’ve reached. And it was all worth it. That sense of pride and achievement is a feeling like no other.

But what if it doesn’t all work out in the end? No one wants to be a failure. You never want your hard work to be all for not. If you only have one chance at something, why blow it? If you fail, then that’s it. Opportunity missed. A lot of relationships work on this principle. Often times you don’t get a second chance.

No one likes to feel like their effort is wasted, either. It can be disheartening getting to the end of a project and for whatever reason, having to start all over again. Even if that reason isn’t necessarily your fault, we often see ourselves taking the blame. Someone or something has to be blamed. Because it was our effort, our blood, sweat, tears, and precious time that went into whatever that thing may be, it is our fault product was not accepted. So, we label ourselves a failure.

Perhaps worse than failure itself is that no one wants to be known as a failure. At least for me personally, I can shoulder the burden of failure most times. But being labeled as someone who is just not up to the task? Or letting someone else down? That’s unacceptable. The fear of being unreliable, incompetent, and the world’s perception of me and my success, that’s motivation to succeed.

As I’ve pondered this issue, it’s become clear to me what my source of motivation is. I’ve also discovered that maybe it isn’t the healthier of the two sources. Fear is strong. It’s a powerful driving force when we let it in and allow it to fester and consume our thoughts, our feelings, our lives. History, hell, current events have proven that. It isn’t healthy to live in fear. As I write these words, I realize I need to alter my mindset. I shouldn’t aim to be successful for fear of failure. The joy of success should drive me. So, I ask you, friends, what is it that motivates you?


  1. This was great man. Generally, I like the little sense of fear as a motivator – but it’s certainly overwhelming at times.


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