The human motivation for success. The drive to make life happen. Where does it come from? Is there a formula for motivation? For success? Or is it something else?
Some people seem to be driven to succeed from birth. Others seem to just meander through life with little motivation.
Formulas for motivation
We can put together a formulaic framework to help.
One good method is the “Ikigai” matrix from ancient Japanese philosophy. This four-pillar approach deals with what is often known. What we can see in front of us, behind us, around us, and what we can research.
- What you’re good at – Expertise and experience. This is usually known. Something you can put in a resume.
- What you love doing – This often isn’t obvious but it can be found.
- What the world needs – Research is required but it’s all around us.
- What the world will pay you for – Again a bit of research can provide an educated guess.
At the intersection and the heart of those 4 elements lies the “Ikigai.”
To translate, it is “your reason for being.”
Then there is another three-element formula that Dan Pink proposed in his book “Drive.”
These elements are:
Again, this is a researched and formulated framework to help uncover motivation.
None of these are truths. Nor are they the 10 commandments for finding your drive or unearthing life-changing motivation.
But we all love a simple step-by-step path and guidebook to follow.
So, these templates and guides can be quite prescriptive and they can also provide a framework to allow you to start dreaming. It can permit you to plan a new path.
To design a life rather than just take the keys you were given and step into the template of society’s expectations.
Discovering your purpose is where a powerful drive to succeed starts.
Unearth your purpose and life is no longer hard work. The drive and motivation simply “show up.” And it flows.
But is planning the only way to discover your passionate motivating purpose?
So…nothing like a good plan.
And that’s why we have career counselors, life coaches, and business strategists.
But plans are often disrupted despite the best intentions.
The great depression, GFC, and wars are just some.
Mike Tyson said, “We all have a plan until you get hit in the face.”
Often the unknown rises… and surprises. Life has a way of doing that.
No matter how much you plan, prescribe, and use a formula, the reality is that within life’s messiness often lies the answer.
How did I discover it?
I got punched in the face. And in the middle of the bloody aftermath and reflection, I got an answer. I didn’t beckon the unknown. But I was looking and seeking answers.
There was intent and hunger. But it showed its face after my plans were blown up. The universe took my hand.
And the only way to reveal what was behind that door was to step forward. Put up my hand and say. I’m ready.
Let’s start. I had just turned 50 and life was a mess except for one thing. I had discovered a safe harbor in a raging storm.
The wrecking ball of the past was a litany and cobbled collection of past failures, some successes, broken relationships, and constant reinvention. I also had a sustaining self-belief that I could rise again and thrive.
Thanks to nurture (and to “Mum and Dad”). Maybe nature. Or both. Maybe it was built in. Out of the DNA box.
But out of that messy matrix sheltering in the safe harbor “it” rose. A feeling, an inkling of a powerful force.
I had been called. It wasn’t known but anonymous. I couldn’t see it as it was invisible.
But there was a whisper. It didn’t shout. An intuition. A curiosity.
It had no form. But it was seeking to be manifested. My past shackles had been broken.
I was now free to roam and imagine. I now had the space. The headspace. The heart space.
Too much to lose?
The challenge we all face in getting from here to there and where our heart wants us to be is that safety and security can also be the chains that restrain us. From taking action. Where we feel we have too much to lose.
The weekly paycheck, the commitments, the responsibilities, and all that comes with that box of needing to be a good adult. A grown-up. We stop playing and start working. We leave our dreams behind.
For me, the gift was that I had no job. So I had time. My responsibilities were for me. Sacred selfishness was now allowed. And I permitted myself.
The teenager had returned. The imagination and dreaming were let loose. And I had nothing to lose.
Everything had already been stripped away. The marriage, the mortgage, the house.
The welcome but distracting noise of boisterous teenagers in the family home. And that vacuum needed to be filled and that was the silence enough for the whisper to be heard. I stepped into the mystical intent of the void. And filled it with my art.
I wrote, published, and shared. I rose at 4:30 am and wrote until my day job started. That burning drive lasted for 4 years.
That was enough to reach lift-off velocity. And full throttle was needed. But it wasn’t hard work.
There was a sense of obsession verging on possession. I almost felt that someone else was speaking through me. There was no need for force. It flowed.
How do you sustain the journey?
How did I keep going? What sustained me?
As I created, published, and shared I received small validations.
Comments, likes and shares. As humans, we are all looking for that affirmation.
Because within all of us lies a need. To be seen. Be visible.
No perfect answer but don’t ignore the whisper
So where does your passionate drive and motivation to succeed come from? I still don’t have the perfect answer.
My answer and discovery weren’t planned or strategized. But for me, it was a spirit that I believe lies with all of us. A person’s purpose.
The Japanese call it “Ikigai.” Maslow called it “self-actualization”. It can also be seen as life’s calling. Waiting to be exposed.
The facade of the day-to-day scraped away to reveal your future. It is a whisper within all of us and it needs to be noticed.
That’s the secret and the mystery that defies logic and formulas. And it can show up when you’re five.
It can also show up at fifty. And when you discover it. Don’t think.
Don’t doubt. Act.