Are there any books that have influenced your life or your way of writing?
Every book should impact you in some way: Educate, inform, inspire, entertain… otherwise why would you read it? The point is to get something out of it, again even if that something is “just” entertainment.
As a professor once told me, “Don’t force yourself to finish a book just because you started it.” Life is short. If you’re not getting anything out of the book you’re reading… put it down and grab another.
If you could choose 3 books to recommend, what would they be?
Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You, everything by Daniel Coyle, and for fun, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. Always reliably entertaining.
Do you prefer books in eBook format or remain faithful to the paper version? What do you think about the audiobook format?
The only time I read physical books are when they’re sent to me by publishers or authors who hope I’ll write reviews for them. Everything else I read on an iPad using the Nook reader. (I have nothing against Amazon; my first e-reader was a Nook, so I’ve just stuck with Barnes & Noble.)
I’ve listened to a number of audiobooks, but not lately. If I’m listening to something it’s usually a podcast.
What was your inspiration for The Motivation Myth?
I was talking with Venus Williams about her career and her various pursuits and she said she had never had this lightning bolt moment of inspiration or motivation. She didn’t suddenly think, “My life’s purpose is to be the #1 tennis player in the world.” She just wanted to be a better tennis player.
Then I thought about all the people who tell me they hope to accomplish something big but are waiting for that lightning bolt to strike. And I realized that only in rare cases do incredibly successful people suddenly find their passion and life’s purpose. Most of them develop their passions and interests slowly, over time, simply by trying something, wanting to get better at it… and getting daily doses of motivation through enjoying small successes.
In short, motivation isn’t something you get – motivation is something you create, on your own, by following a process that allows you to improve, bit by bit.
That thought alone is incredibly motivating, because it means you already have everything inside you that you need to achieve your goals.
Do you think there are healthy habits that can help us in the motivational path?
Don’t try to reinvent perfectly good wheels. Pick someone who has achieved something you want to achieve, deconstruct their process, then follow it. Along the way you might make small corrections as you learn what works best for you… but never start by doing what you want to do, or what feels good, or what you think might work. Do what is proven to work.
Otherwise you’ll give up because the process you create won’t get you those small successes that keep you motivated — and feeling good about yourself.
A “trick” for our readers: there is one, not contained in your book, that would you suggest to find the real motivation to achieve success?
Most incredibly successful people instinctively create processes that focus on the day to day and not the end result. If you focus solely on your goal, you realize just how great the distance is between here, where you’re staring, and there, where you hope to someday be… and that gap is so wide that it’s incredibly demotivating. If you want to run a marathon and today you can only run a mile, thinking about someday needing to run 26 miles is hugely daunting. Think about it too much and you’ll quit.
That’s why Venus Williams’s dad kept Venus and Serena from playing too many junior tournaments. He wanted them to focus on developing their skills, not on winning or losing. In the early days of Metallica, Kirk Hammett was still taking guitar lessons from Joe Satriani and rode his bike 25 miles one-way to get there. (He didn’t have a car.) Bert Jacobs and his brother John started Life is Good by driving a minivan up and down the coast, selling t-shirts out the back. The list goes on of people who focused on creating a process that would lead to long-term success… and then working that process and finding motivation in small, day-to-day successes. That’s how they kept going when others would have quit.