The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win

The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win

by Jeff Haden

The Motivation Myth is a highly practical guide that will help you to find and maintain the motivation needed to achieve great things and become successful. The book breaks down the myths surrounding motivation. It will help you perceive motivation as the result of a process and not the cause or the precondition to start the process itself. This mindset will change the way you approach both your obstacles and big goals. 

Summary Notes

Demystifying motivation

“Actually, motivation is a result. Motivation is the pride you take in work you have already done—which fuels your willingness to do even more”.

Many of us feel that we need to be motivated to start working towards our goals. That’s probably because we see motivation as a precondition to success, which isn’t the case. Motivation is something you get from yourself automatically after achieving your goals, no matter how small they are. 

When you are motivated, you can easily push yourself to do more to achieve your long term goals. For example, if you are trying to learn a new language, successfully counting from 1 to 20 in that language will give you the motivation to continue learning more.

Maintaining laser focus on your end goal is not a requirement for success. Instead, you need to set smaller goals and focus your attention on the process to achieve these goals. Your daily wins will keep you motivated along the way as long as you are following the right process. You need to realize that success, even tiny incremental successes, are the best motivation tool of them all.

Actions to take

Building relationships that motivate you to do better

“We’re instinctively drawn to people who are modest, agreeable, polite, kind . . . in short, to people who are genuinely likeable”.

No one is an island. We all need to build relationships that can motivate us to achieve our personal goals. As human beings, we are instinctively drawn to people who are modest, polite, kind and have commonalities with us - in short, genuinely likable people.

To build professional and business relationships, you need to make yourself likable. This doesn't mean you should lose your personality to make others happy, it only means you have to carefully relate and interact with others to build deep meaningful relationships.

That said, you shouldn’t be thinking of just making yourself likable, because that is just a goal. Instead, you need to focus on the process - what you need to do to make yourself likable in social gatherings, networking events or any situation where you can interact with people in a relatively casual setting. 

The process of making yourself likable involves improving your people skills. For example, you need to learn to listen to others, be yourself and also let others be themselves in your presence.

Actions to take

Your process determines your goal

“You get to choose your goal—but after that, what you want to do is irrelevant. What matters is what you need to do to achieve your goal”.

Many of us have the misconception that it is our goal that determines our process. That isn’t true.  Instead, the process you chose determines whether or not you will succeed in achieving your goals. The process is more like what you need to do to succeed. 

When it comes to success, there are no two ways, other than putting in the work through the right process. You need to always focus your attention on the process, instead of worrying about the goal. For example, if your goal is to write a book, you could decide to focus on a process that involves writing 2000 words weekly. 

Realize that where the process is concerned, you don’t get to choose what you want to do. You need to follow the entire process to reach your goal. What you want to do or achieve (your goal) is always irrelevant and what always matters is the process - what you need to do to achieve your goal.

You, therefore, need to carefully choose a good process that tells you precisely what you need to do every step of the way. Moreover, it's of the utmost importance for you to discipline yourself to go through your chosen process, even amidst challenges.

Actions to take

The relationship between serial achievements and happiness

“Work too hard on one area of your business and other areas suffer. Work too hard on any one aspect of your life and other aspects suffer”.

Many of us think that professional specialization indicates accomplishments and success. That’s just a myth because the opposite is true. We all possess a variety of skills including those we are not yet using. 

You need to realize that you are too good to be one thing. It’s possible to be many things to achieve your goals. For example, you could be a writer, a public speaker and a lecturer at the same time. The beauty of serial achievement is that you become more than one thing over time. Besides, the skills you gain will not be wasted if or when you move on to another pursuit.

There is an inextricably intertwined relationship between happiness and achievements. Success may mean different things to different people but what determines your success is how happy you are. You’re most likely to be happy if you are a serial achiever whose major goal is to acquire wealth. 

It is therefore important to have multiple goals in both your personal and financial life if you desire to succeed and to be happy. Do not allow room for regrets by not exploiting your skills and taking advantage of the opportunities that come your way just because you want to be seen as a highly specialized individual. You need to set the best goals that can benefit you on multiple levels, resulting in happiness. This will also eliminate the pain of regrets later in your life.

Actions to take

Willpower and productivity

“Let’s do so in a way that helps you develop an attribute most people feel they struggle with - willpower - and, in the process, make willpower irrelevant”.

We have already established the fact that when you are successful in small tasks, it motivates you to do more to succeed in your big projects or goals. 

So is motivation the only thing you need to keep working hard? The answer is certainly a NO. You also need willpower, especially if you desire to become a serial achiever. It can be daunting trying to improve or learn multiple skills simultaneously, but with willpower, you can achieve everything you set your mind to. When you have willpower, you become determined to do the things you perceive as difficult, thereby resulting in high productivity.

You may suddenly realize that you have unconsciously accumulated a lot of work that needs to be handled as soon as possible. Your best bet shouldn’t be to get discouraged but to find the willpower to have an extremely productive day or week to catch up. With the right willpower, you can easily organize yourself to make major decisions, do challenging tasks, and above all stay away from distractions so you can be productive.

Actions to take

Numbers are crucial to success

“The more shots you take, the more chances you have of hitting the target. Working your number helps you predict how much failure you can expect on the road to success”.

Working smart is important but numbers are crucial to success. Most often, we know or can easily calculate our numbers but hardly do that because thinking probabilistically doesn't come naturally.

However, when you do think in terms of probabilities, you start seeing success as the game that it is. Truly, success is more the result of rolling the dice a certain number of times. For example, if you have observed that you need to call at least 10 potential clients to get one real client, then you should be ready to call 500 potential clients if you plan to get 50 clients in a month. 

Working your numbers requires consistency - constantly doing over and over again the things that make the biggest difference in your life. In short, working your numbers is about working hard and working probabilistically every day to achieve your long term goals. 

The other side of working your numbers is the fact that it helps you predict how many failures you can expect on the road to success. For example, you could become aware of the fact that you always get nine rejections before securing a single client.

That said, working with numbers is not necessarily about counting the number of times you perform certain tasks. It’s more about maintaining consistency in achieving your goals. For example, to achieve your business goals, you may have to commit yourself to consistently developing others who will in turn help you achieve your goals. You could also commit yourself to consistently helping your partner improve so they can achieve their own goals.

Actions to take

You need a pro to succeed and not a coach

“Take a different approach. Ask someone who has been there and done that - a real pro what they would do in your shoes.”

Many of us believe that we need a coach to motivate us to achieve our goals. That’s just another myth surrounding motivation. Instead, you need a pro to help you get to where you want to be. Unlike a coach who will simply encourage you to adapt their knowledge, skills and expertise to your capabilities, a pro will tell you what you need to hear and do. 

Look at it this way. Pros already know what they and other successful people did to achieve their level of success. Pros are in the right position to tell you “This is how I do it” and then let you do it without cuddling you. A coach will think about making the process fun and uplifting while a pro will show you how to succeed and expect you to take full responsibility for your success.

It is therefore of the utmost importance to work with a pro if you want to attain a certain level of success. Look for a pro in your field whom you admire and work with him directly, or try emulating their processes from afar.

Actions to take

Do more by doing less

“The key is to find ways to delegate or streamline all the tasks that distract you from doing what you do best because when you do more of what you do best, you achieve more”

Many of us feel that to become successful, we need to do many tasks at once. As logical as this may sound, it isn't true. You need to learn to do less by focusing on the most important things.

You need to find ways to delegate or streamline all the tasks that distract you from doing what you do best.  When you do more of what you do best, you achieve more,  and your career, business or personal life begin flourishing naturally.

Success naturally creates a clutter characterized by more meetings, more projects, more decisions, and more items on your to-do list. But often, doing more can mean achieving less, and that’s why subtraction can be the best addition. And the easiest way to do less is to start saying no, especially to things that will not benefit you in any way.

While doing less is recommended, it's also important to adopt the 1% improvement rule on the things you do daily. This rule involves getting 1% better each day as you perform and practice a particular task.

Actions to take

Don’t just read. Act.
Read comprehensive summaries and discover carefully compiled action lists for active learning