Too often in our lives we are told to “plan for the worst.” Yes, this advice will keep you safe, and will also ensure that you never reach your dreams — or come anywhere near them. We become the sum of our thoughts and if you plan to survive the worst and dwell on this thought, your mind will make this your reality. Human beings are motivated to avoid pain — to run from it — and to move in the direction of pleasure. Most people find their motivation in any situation derived from one of these two options. The truly exceptional people, those who reach and surpass their dreams, harness the power of both.
We would all agree that most people want the pleasure of more money, nicer things, larger homes, better vacations and more security for their families. This motivation clearly drives us to excel in our work, to sell more, to achieve more and to earn more. The other side of this motivational coin, pain avoidance, is really just as simple. We don’t want to lose our jobs, businesses, homes, families and freedom, so we play it safe enough. “Safe enough” is a like a pair of cement shoes that hinders your ability to break the surface of the pool that holds you down and prevents you from rising and reaching your potential. When you look at your role models, try to determine which of these types of motivation drives them.
You guessed it right, but only half right. It isn’t one of the two; it’s both.
The people you see who are living their dreams know the secret. What makes them so successful, you ask? It is their ability to use both pleasure seeking and pain avoidance together to exponentially increase their motivation. There is no magic pill or silver bullet. The formula to create this drive is simple. Most of us want the nicer things and fear loss, so we hover in the safe middle and do well enough. Well enough is not good enough for me and I want to share with you the secret. If you want to smash your goals and fly to heights you’ve only dreamt of, you need to change your environment.
You need to push yourself out of your safe zone. You need to move to an environment where you must succeed to survive. The pursuit of pleasure will always be there and the more you taste it, the more you will want it. This part is not scary and will come naturally. To harness the power of pain avoidance, you need to embrace your fear and eliminate your safety net. When you cannot fail, you will not fail. When you have no other choice than to succeed, your mind will find a way to make it happen. Buying new cars, a camper, home or investing in your business in a big way will likely do the trick. For you, it may be something different. Find out what it is and take a leap that will require you to up your performance.
As the old wives’ tale goes, if you place live frogs into a cooking pot with room-temperature water and then place them on the heat they will not jump out. Why, you ask? The temperature of the water only increases a little bit at a time and the frogs stay comfortable enough until it is too late, and they are cooked to death. While this story is delicious, it is also truly terrifying for you and I. Do you want to be just comfortable enough until it ends? I don’t. Are you starting to get the picture? If you are playing it safe until you reach your dreams, you will never live them. You will die in the cooking pot, just like the frog. You both end your days looking up at what could have been. Do you want to live your life inside a pot from which you can easily escape?
So here is the anti-frog recipe for success. First, decide which pleasures will motivate you. Second, go and get them. This will both make you want more and make you want to destroy the comfortable cooking pot of warm water that has been holding you back. You will no longer have the safety net you used to look up through. You will have created the environment where you must succeed. Guess what? With hard work, you will. Your mind is the greatest tool ever created and it will not let you fail.