Positive vs Negative Motivation

By Leo Gura - July 30, 2013 | 4 Comments

Why negative motivation will never be enough to reach your dreams.

Video Transcript

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Hey, what’s up? This is Leo here for Actualized.org and today I want to cover the important topic of positive versus negative motivation and why the negative motivation that you’re using is not going to get you ultimately to where you want to be.

What Is Positive Motivation And What Is Negative Motivation

So let’s dig into this. What is positive and what is negative motivation? I think that a lot of people can really relate to negative motivation very easily because this is how they accomplish a lot of changes in their life. It’s not that negative motivation doesn’t get you any results. It gets you results. The problem though is that once you get to a certain level, negative motivation stops having the effect on you that you want to have.

So let’s dig into the details here and really make this distinction between positive and negative. Traditional psychology likes to say that there’s two types of personalities out there that get motivated in different ways. The one personality type is the one that gets motivated by avoiding pain. This is someone that gets motivated by things like your electricity is about to be turned off so you’re motivated to go and pay the bill, or you don’t like the idea of being poor so you go out and you find a good job so that you can become financially well off.

You don’t like the idea of being bossed around at work so you go and you start your own business. You don’t like the idea of fighting in your relationship so you go and you find a new relationship. So that’s the one side of the equation. It’s trying to avoid pain or discomfort in your life. This can be a pretty powerful motivating force.

I call this negative because it’s like the stick. If we compare the carrot and the stick analogy then this is the stick that you’re getting hit with that’s telling you that what you’re doing is wrong, what you’re doing is painful, what you’re doing is not something that’s making you satisfied so you have to change your behavior. That’s the signal that you use to then go off and create some sort of change in your life.

So that’s the negative, what about the positive? The positive is the opposite of that. It’s you being drawn to something so it’s what you’re moving towards. So let’s say that you’ve really got a passion for art and you love painting and that’s something that’s deeply fulfilling for you. That’s going to be a positive motivation that goes out there and has you taking action, learning how to paint, learning how to draw and then ultimately becoming a professional artist in that case. That’s one example of positive motivation.

What’s another example? Let’s say that you love the way that your body looks when you’re ripped and you love the muscle and you love the low body fat percentage. You love that look and you’re really excited, you’re really eager to get into the gym every day and work out and just have a nice body builder type of physique. Again, that’s a positive motivation.

How about another positive motivation? What if you like contributing and you like providing value to people, so maybe you like doing volunteer work or maybe you just like doing your job really well because it gives you a certain fulfillment, a certain joy, then that’s positive motivation. How about if you are motivated to do something that you really enjoy doing like maybe playing a sport or taking up some sort of craft or a hobby, just because you really love it. Something that you do anyways.

Maybe you really like reading a certain genre of books, maybe you like mystery books and so you do that and you’re positively motivated because you’re always excited about the next book that’s coming out in the series and you want to read it. That’s something that’s great for you. Or maybe you love movies and you love to go and you like to see indie-art flicks or whatever, again positive motivation.

The Yin And The Yang

So here we have the contrast between positive and negative where in the one case you’re moving away from things you don’t want, things that displease you, things that you’re uncomfortable with and then in the other case you’re moving towards things that you do want. It’s like the positive-negative pole of a magnet. Now these seem like they’re two sides of the same coin.

You can be motivated by the negative, you can be motivated by the positive and the two are kind of part of the same piece like the Yin and the Yang. There’s a balance there. Sometimes you’re motivated by the positive, sometimes by the negative.

What I will submit to you is if you really want to get the success that you’re thirsting after, and if you really want to get the kind of results atypical from normal folks, from normal society, the kind of results that normal people get, if you want to rise above the mediocrity, then you need to start to shift from the negative to the positive because there’s a huge difference. Even though they seem like they’re equal and balanced there’s a huge difference in results that you’re going to get from moving from negative to positive and being driven by a fuel that’s positive rather than negative. Let’s go into some of the reasons as to why this is.

There’s a multitude of reasons and we’re going to go into them, some of them are deeper than others, but what I really want to stress here is something that was talked about in the book called, ‘Path of Least Resistance’ by Robert Fritz. This entire book is really about creating actually, and how to cultivate a creative mindset and how to pursue creative pursuits. Creative here doesn’t mean that you’re artistic in any way. Creative here means that you’re actually using the process of creation to make whatever it is that you want to make in your life whether it’s how you look, how you feel, what kind of job you have, what kind of family you have… all that is creation of some sort.

It doesn’t necessarily just have to be that you’re a creative person in kind of the stereotypical way like we think of an artist being creative. Creativity is much more broad than that and what Path of Least Resistance talks about is the fact that there are really two structures that you can use towards living your life. There’s the problem-solving structure or paradigm that you use which is going about your day and going about your life trying to fix problems. You’re looking for problems that pop up in your life so situations that you’re not quite pleased with that you want to improve and then you go out there and you work on them and you improve. So there’s that paradigm or structure as Robert Fritz calls it.

Then there’s the other structure which is the creative structure. This structure is not about focusing on the problems or focusing on the things that you want to improve, the creative structure is about what do you want to create? It’s like you have a blank slate. Think of yourself as an artist and your life as that blank canvas. What do you want to draw on there?

What Will You Create With The Tools At Your Disposal?

You have all these tools, you have all these possibilities, you have all these opportunities at your disposal and the question now is what do you want to create? So these two I equate with the positive and the negative. The problem-solving mindset is really the negative motivation because what you’re motivated by is the problem. You want to fix the problem and the way that your mind is thinking is, “When I fix this problem I’m going to feel better and I’m not going to have that thorn in my side any more so that’s something I should get to work on”.

Maybe you’re not happy with your weight and you look in the mirror, you’re really bummed out about it. Every time you look in the mirror you think to yourself, “You know, I could easily drop twenty pounds. I would be so much happier if I did that. I’d look so much better. I’d be even so much more attractive.”

Let’s say you’ve got that mindset. That’s the problem mindset because you notice a problem about yourself and now there’s some pain there, there’s a twinge of pain, a twinge of guilt about not following through, not taking action, not living up to your full potential. Now you’re driven by that to make some sort of change. So you’re going to go to the gym, you’re going to change your diet, whatever it takes.

That’s the negative. The positive, and this is the creative mindset, is like, what do you want? What is your vision for yourself? In the case of your physique if you’re trying to improve your looks, it’s not about, “Oh, I want to improve my looks because I’m dissatisfied” it’s about, “What do I want? What do I want to be? Who do I want to be? What do I want to create in my life?”

In this case it’s like you have a vision. You have a positive vision of what you look like. Maybe picture yourself ripped or sexy or lean. Maybe you picture yourself in the gym being in that top ten percent that go there consistently. Maybe you picture yourself very healthy and it’s not so much about the look but it’s about the health and the energy that you now have and the vitality that you have with being active and eating healthy foods that are nourishing your body and you feel good about that. Not even because you look good, and not even because you feel good, but it’s just because you’re kind of living up to your own standards.

You have a vision of what you want to look like. You have a vision of who you want to be and that’s something that you want to work towards. It’s something that you literally want to manifest in your life and then again you do that by going to the gym, lifting weights, changing your diet up, whatever.

On the surface it seems like what’s the difference because in both cases the actions are the same. In both cases whether you hate how you look or you have some vision of how you want to look, in both cases you’re going to have to go to the gym anyways, you’re going to have to change your diet anyways and it doesn’t really matter. Well this is the inner game side of things, the inner game of success.

Even though the outer game here is the same, you’re going to the gym you’re doing the diet stuff, the inner game here is different. The inner game is where your motivation stems from because here’s the problem, especially with the gym, is that are you going to have the motivation to stick with it? Are you going to have the motivation to achieve what you ultimately want?

The Yo-Yo Effect

The problem with the problem-solving mindset and the negative mindset is that if you’re motivated by that negative motivation you’re going to start to notice a certain yo-yo effect where that motivation might be powerful at first, it will get you going. In fact, a lot of times people will cite examples of extreme negative leverage where they have some sort of really painful event in their life, some sort of painful experience, and they use that as fuel to get them super new. A lot of times that will lead to a pretty big transformation and that’s great, you can definitely do that. That’s strategy.

The problem is though, that if you’ve already made some of that transition and now you’re looking to get to that next level, that negative leverage no longer starts to work on you. Here’s the problem with negative leverage, is that when you’re in a real deficit of whatever it is you want and there’s a big gap between what you want and what you have right now, there’s a certain tension that’s created. There’s pressure there.

So let’s say that you’re really miserable at your job right now, you get paid very little, you don’t get respected, you hate what you do, you just hate it. Then you have this vision of something awesome that you really want to do maybe some dream career that you’ve always imagined yourself doing but you’re not sure how to get there yet and it seems like the gap is huge. That huge gap, even though that can be a problem, it’s also nice because that can create motivation. You see the disparity.

You see how much better your life could be here than it is right now and that makes you start to want to move towards it. That get you that motivation. The problem though is if you’re driven by that negativity then what happens is as you close that gap your drive is proportional to that gap that’s there. As you’re closing it, you’re closing it, you’re closing it, you’re closing it, the motivation wanes and wanes and wanes because all of a sudden the pain that was there that was pushing you isn’t as painful anymore.

Let’s say you hate your job right now and so there’s a lot of pain and you quit and you go off and you find a new job. Let’s say that job isn’t quite what you want. It’s only maybe thirty percent of what you feel like you’re capable of and so you’re working on that job but you’re doing all right. This job is much better than your previous job.

You’re getting paid much better, your boss respects you more, you like your co-workers, you’re having a good time, you’re doing something valuable with the effort that you’re putting in there, but still it’s not the thing that you really feel that you could be doing. It’s not your full potential, it’s only thirty percent. So in this case what’s happening is that the gap has now narrowed. It’s now a much smaller gap, but now you’re not really motivated to go out there and achieve your full hundred percent potential because you’ve already achieved thirty percent of it.

The gap has closed and now you’re less driven. You start to become complacent. It’s like, “You know, I’m pretty comfortable here. I’m pretty comfortable. Going off, finding that job that’s a hundred percent of my potential, well, that’s pretty risky. I’m going to have to quit this job. It might involve getting less pay in the short run. It might involve a time where I might not be able to find a job or I might be unemployed maybe for six months. That’s going to be a painful period. I don’t want to go through that.”

What happens if you’re driven by pain you’re always using the scale of assessing what’s more painful, what’s less painful, and you’re always trying to find that path that brings you the least discomfort, the least pain. You can definitely use this strategy. The problem is that you’re not going to be really great using this strategy. Nothing great really gets accomplished by avoiding pain or discomfort. You can accomplish certain things but it limits you.

No Limits To What You Can Do

Whereas with the creative mindset, there’s almost no limit to what that can do and what positive motivation can do because once you have that drive, once you set up a vision for yourself of where you want to be and you’re really inspired by that and it connects with your values and you really feel as if it’s something that’s deeply important to you, that motivation is there and it’s never ending. In fact what it does if you set this up properly then it just keeps amplifying and building up and building up and building up on itself and that’s when you get like a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand times the results that you would get with the negative motivation approach, because you have a vision and you are where you are now, and there’s that gap and there’s that same tension but this is now positive tension and as the gap closes you’re getting more excited about it.

You’re not getting less excited, you’re not getting demotivated, the fuel is still there, you’re getting closer and closer to your vision and what happens is your vision enlarges and it expands and it deepens. So your vision always rises and you go along for the ride and as that gap is closing you’re just thrilled about it. You’re more motivated because once you reach that vision then the vision expands to the next level and suddenly it expands and evolves into something new and then you go on to the next thing and then the next thing and then the next thing and you feeling good about yourself. This is the key difference between positive and negative and why you should make that transition from negative to positive.

Now, what do I want to say about this? I think the profound thing to understand here is that – I was asking myself this, has anything really great, anything really awesome been achieved by people or organizations that were simply driven to avoid discomfort or pain? I thought about this and I thought about some prototypical examples, maybe, let’s say the Pyramids. How were the Pyramids built? What was the intellect that was behind that? What was the motivation required to create that kind of achievement?

How about a billion dollar company? Founding a billion dollar company that provides a lot of value to society and helps a lot of people. Common technology companies. Common examples, Microsoft, how about a company like Apple? How about a company like Google? These kinds of visionary companies that create a lot of positive impact in the world. Is it possible to start a company like that if you’re trying just to avoid discomfort or you’re trying simply to solve problems?

You Cannot Be Great By Being Reactive

What I would submit is that that’s not possible. To have the kind of drive you need to have to create that kind of greatness, there’s something more there. You need to tap into your higher self. You can’t do that by being sucking low consciousness thinking. You can’t do that by being reactive.

You can only do that by being proactive and by having a vision of what you want because otherwise what will happen is basically you can think about like this. These grand lofty vision of starting a billion dollar company or helping the world to cure disease or building a monument like a Pyramid or the Eiffel Tower or something great like this. This is an inspired drive because you can easily have a lot of money and just be comfortable. You can have everything that you basically need in life. You can have a nice house, a nice car, you have a nice family, you can have good friends, you can set your life up to have all those things but that’s never going to lead you to create something amazing, something great.

That is just going to make you comfortable, maybe happy- if that. In fact what it’s going to do if you put yourself in that position if you don’t have that vision, most likely you’re going to get complacent. You’re going to get lazy and actually what’s going to happen is you’re going to stagnate. You’re going to stop learning, you’re going to stop working hard and you’re not really going to achieve a lot in your life.

To achieve something big, think about what it took to build the Pyramids. That’s not simply a matter of survival, that’s way beyond survival. Survival is just getting your basic needs met. This is like getting your highest ideals met.

For the Egyptians it was obviously tied to their religion and their spirituality but that was something that was deep to them. That was a deep value to them. That was important. How about a founder of a company like Google or Apple or Microsoft? What would someone like that have to believe in? What kind of drive would they have to have to want to put in the energy that it takes, the massive expenditure of energy that it takes to make that a reality because make no mistake about it, it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t simple to build the Pyramids.

There was a lot of toil, hard work put into that. It wasn’t easy to build a billion dollar company like Microsoft or Google or Apple. There’s a lot of struggle there to create it. Certain things had to happen. Certain energy had to be invested and there’s no way that energy would have been invested if the person that was behind that effort, if the intellect, the mind that was behind that effort was simply motivated by avoiding a problem or finding a comfortable place for themselves.

Make no mistake about it, these companies and the Pyramids and a lot of human achievement -literally everything that you see around you if you just look around. The house that you’re sitting in, the computer that you’re looking at, the car you’re driving in, the city that you’re in… All of that was created by human intellect and that had to start with some sort of figment of imagination, of idea. Someone had to think about wanting to create an LCD screen that you’re now watching this video on.

Be Driven By Your Vision

Someone had to think about how to code the website that you’re now looking at. Someone had to think about how to structure the internet, how to lay the cables through the ground so that you could receive the electronic signals that you need to be receiving in order to look and to listen to this right now. Someone had to come up with the algorithms to code for the audio that’s coming through this video.

Someone had to create the infrastructure in your city so that you have water and electricity. Someone had to create a government that would allow you to have the stability and the luxury to sit where you’re sitting right now without worrying about somebody ambushing you and hitting you over the head with a rock like in caveman days might happen without a stable government to protect you and to ensure a certain stability and order in society.

All of these things didn’t exist a hundred thousand years ago. None of that existed a hundred thousand years ago. How did that come about? Ultimately it was a figment of someone’s idea, someone’s imagination and then because they had the vision they thought it was important to them that they went out and they started doing that and they accomplished these amazing things.

This is something that you if you like being accomplished and you feel like you have something to contribute to society, and you have that kind of drive whether it’s with your work or something else, then I would submit to you that you need to get in the positive motivation track. Not being driven by problems, be driven by your vision.
Ice cream truck is coming by so it’s playing in the background. Here’s the thing, if you’re driven by negative motivation, as Robert Fritz talked about it, a lot of the problems that you have are not even going to be solved if you’re coming at it from the problem-solving mindset. What’s happening is you’re solving one problem then another problem pops up. You’re solving that one and then another one pops up.

Law Of Attraction

Instead of doing it that way, what’s better is to go out and simply focus on what you want not what you don’t want. This is classic law of attraction. The idea that you want to shift your attention on the things you do want rather than what you don’t want because if you focus on what you don’t want, paradoxically what’s going to happen is you’re actually going to get that by moving towards it.

Your mind is on it so much that you’re going to look at it so much, you’re going to worry about it so much it’s going to become a self-fulfilling prophesy whereas in the opposite example, if you focus on what you do want, even though there are obstacles and problems, nobody’s denying that there are those, you’re focus is avoiding so you you’re not distracted. You’re not demoralized by all the problems and obstacles in your way because you’ve got that vision that’s driving you and you’re always focusing on what you can do, what you want. The problem with the problem-solving mindset is it makes you a victim.

You’re always looking at things that are problems. Things that are obstacles and so a lot of times you get demoralized just by the fact that you have so many obstacles in your way and what’s going to happen is you’re going to think about, “Oh you know I’d like to start a business, but there’s this problem, and there’s that problem, and another problem and another problem. I don’t have the funding for it, I don’t have the time, I can’t quit my job, I’ve got a family to support.” All these problems and obstacles come in the way.

If you’re thinking like that then you’re not going to be very motivated to start that business unless there’s some really negative, harsh, kick in the ass that just forces you to do it. Maybe you get fired from work and that’s going to be enough to get you to start your business, but that’s not ideal. The better scenario is to focus on really the business that you want to start, why you want to start it, why it’s important to you and then as you’re focusing on that, you’re so excited about all the potential and all the movement and progress that you’re making towards that business.

Those problems are still there. You still have a family that you need to support, you still have money that you need to make, you still need capital for your business, all these problems are still there but you’re not focusing on them. You’re focusing on the solutions and ultimately what happens is that you end up finding those solutions because your mind is focused on looking for them. What you focus on is what you tend to see.

We Tend To Seek Validation

We have this tendency as human beings, our human mind tends to seek validation so whatever you think should be the case a lot of times you will discount all the concrete evidence. A lot of times that’s why you see if you read biographies about people that start some of these amazing businesses and accomplish a lot in their lives, they go through a lot of adversity, but they’re always looking for that crack in the wall that they can squeeze through and then the next crack and then the next crack. They are very opportunistic about how they do that and that’s what allows them to be persistent and successful.

Whereas people that are focused on the problems, there’s always a problem, there’s always an obstacle if you look for one. There’s always a reason not to do something and there’s always a reason to do something. It’s really a question of inner game and what you want for yourself.

The other problem and the thing that I hate about negative motivation is that it leads to a certain yo-yo effect and this is what Robert Fritz called an oscillating structure. Think about if there’s two structures here. One structure is solving problems and avoiding pain. The other structure is you’re moving towards a creative vision that you have.

The structure where you’re avoiding pain, the problem with that is that- and you probably can find experiences, instances of this in your life- is that as soon as you reach your goal, what happens is you get satisfied and so then you want to drop back down to where you were. Then as soon as you drop back down to where you were the pain of being at that bad condition will want you to rise above again, but then as soon as you rise above and you reach that goal then you’ll yo-yo back down. This is what I call the Yo-yo effect.

Where I’ve seen this very, very evident was with maintaining my weight. A long time ago I was overweight. That was about seven years ago. Then I dropped about sixty-five pounds in five months.

The Snap

That was something that I was spurred on to do and actually as I was preparing for this video I was thinking about what it was that really motivated me to do that. Initially I thought that there was a lot of negative leverage there, that I just got really tired of being fat because I was overweight for most of my life and I got tired of how I looked. I got tired of not being attractive to the opposite sex and I got tired of my self-confidence issues and of all that, and so one day I just kind of snapped and decided to change.

Actually what that snap was, it wasn’t a negative, it was a positive. What happened was that I saw a vision of myself as being very lean, toned, fit, healthy, being attractive to the opposite sex, being very confident. I saw a vision of myself. I talked about that in another video where I talk more about exactly all of the steps that I took to lose sixty-five pounds in five months.

In that case it wasn’t that I was fed up and in excruciating pain and therefore I changed, it was because I saw a vision of myself and I really felt it. It wasn’t just like a logical, ” Oh yeah I could be fit. I could drop sixty-five pounds”, it was like I saw how I would feel. I felt how I would if I had already done it. It was such a captivating vision that the next day changes started to happen. That was an inner game shift.

I’d tried going to the gym before that, I’d tried dieting for a long time before that many times and it always failed. That was because I didn’t have a strong enough vision. All I was doing is I was running from the discomfort and the pain of being overweight. So that was how I lost sixty-five pounds.

Getting back to this idea of the yo-yo effect, after I did lose the sixty-five pounds, that wasn’t my target it was about one hundred and seventy pounds that’s where I wanted to be at, and I stayed there for about a year and then I found it difficult to maintain that weight because what happened was that my motivation had waned. I no longer had that vision. That vision of being at a hundred and seventy pounds, I’ve already achieved that, I had it.

At that point all I felt like i was doing was that I was maintaining. I was going to the gym, I was working just as hard, all I was doing was maintaining. I wasn’t getting any results and so it became challenging. What happened is I wanted to stay at about one seventy and so what I would do is I would go to the gym, I’d hit one seventy and then I would feel pretty good about myself.

Then I would still want to snack and have some tasty stuff, have some dessert, ice cream, burgers etcetera and so I was still eating pretty unhealthy at that time. What I did is I would go, I’d eat, I’d splurge a little bit, and then all of a sudden over the course of the next week I would notice myself gaining three or four pounds off of that.

Then I would weigh myself and as soon as I saw myself hitting that one seventy three, one seventy four mark on the scale, immediately the stab, the thorn kicked in and it was that negative motivation and it was telling me that “Oh, if you keep this up, you’re going to gain all that weight back that you lost. You didn’t really make a sustainable change.”

Guilting Myself

I’d feel really bad about myself, I’d guilt myself into basically then going on a diet again and then I would get myself that balance of one seventy over the next week or two. Once I was at one seventy I became pretty happy again and I was motivated by the pleasure of going out and eating a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and getting lax again in my diet and getting lax on the gym. Then all of a sudden I would notice over the next week or two I would rise back up to one seventy three, one seventy four. Then again I would freak out and then go on a diet and go back to one seventy and so this yo-yo effect was happening.

It happened for a long time. This used to happen for months, even a few years really, because I lost my vision and I was just being motivated by comfort- or lack of comfort -and discomfort and trying to avoid the pain. I was trying on the one hand to avoid the pain of going to the gym and eating healthy and then on the other hand I was avoiding the pain of being overweight. I was trying to yoyo my way back and forth.

What happened was that there was a plateau there for me of a couple of years. Really, I didn’t really get any gains at the gym even though I put in so much work and I felt bad about myself because there was guilt there. I was guilting myself into doing things. So I think this is a common example on one of the biggest problems with the negative motivation is that it will lead to this oscillating, yo-yo effect where you become stuck and you stop getting the results that you want to get. You stop achieving. Of course that means that your fuel kind of ran out.

That’s what I mean by negative motivation not being enough to get you to where you ultimately want to be, if you want to accomplish great things. Instead what you need is positive. What it took for me to move beyond that yo-yo effect was exactly that. It took a vision.

After a lot of frustration, a lot of struggle with this yo-yo, feeling bad about myself, ultimately I somehow got into body building, started researching it, got interested in it and I started getting an image of myself of being very fit. Not just at a certain weight, at one seventy, I started setting higher ambitions for myself. I started thinking about what would it be like if my boy was really healthy? What if I actually was eating not simply to maintain my weight but I was eating to maintain my health because I cared about my body? What if I lived up to that value?

Then I also thought what if I get ripped? I like the idea of just getting ripped, just very low body fat percentage. I wanted to be at eight percent. What if I put on some nice bulk, put on some muscle at the same time? I actually went online and looked for images of the kind of body that I wanted to have and I found some inspiring images. I printed them out as posters and I posted them around my room.

That created a lot of motivation for me. This was positive motivation. It was no longer about avoiding this or avoiding that, I was really looking towards my vision. There’s something that I wanted to create. I wanted to create a certain body, I wanted to create a certain physique, I wanted to create a certain feeling, I wanted more energy, and I also wanted to live up to those higher values of just being healthy and treating my body well.

Once I put that in place, all of a sudden I started seeing a lot of gains at the gym. I started to put on muscle, I started to shed fat, I started to look for techniques, I started researching, I started watching videos, they provided me with a lot of motivation to really get me to that next level at the gym. That was really great and I’m still working through that right now. I’m still trying to get to my six pack, still trying to get to eight percent body fat. It’s truly a struggle when you’re at about twelve, eleven, ten percent to get down those last few percent can be really, really difficult.

No Vision, No Reason

I think one of the challenges is that if you don’t have a strong enough reason, strong enough vision, you’ll never get there because at that point what are you really trying to do? You’re putting in a lot of effort, you’re really monitoring your diet, you have to be very careful about how your diet is and you have to be very careful about what kind of exercises you do and what times of the day you eat, etcetera, etcetera. You’re just not going to do that if all you’re trying to do is avoid discomfort.

Quite frankly there’s a certain discomfort involved with getting to that kind of level of physique to building your body. Going to the gym, that’s not always a comfortable experience, but if you have that vision then the discomfort kind of melts away. That’s the beauty of it, is that if you’re always motivated by the pain, you’re always in a kind of reactive mode.

You’re always in lower consciousness thinking because you’re always trying to avoid something. You’re always dissatisfied because you’re dissatisfied with that thing so you try to avoid it, then all of a sudden your mind finds another thing that you’re dissatisfied with in your life, then another thing and another thing. You’re always dissatisfied, you’re never really content. You’re never fulfilled or happy.

Whereas if you’re working towards a vision, even though going to the gym is still painful, because you’re not focusing on it, because you’re so excited about the muscles you’re going to put on in this example, then you don’t really care about the pain. Then that pain becomes just a part of the journey and you can even learn to appreciate it in a certain sense. So that was my weight loss example.

I like this point at the end here about how you feel because if you’re motivated by the negative motivation, I just find it very difficult to imagine a scenario where someone motivated by negative motivation is ever going to be content in their life. Can you picture how that would work? You’re always solving problems, and problems always keep coming up. They’re never going to end. You’re never going to run out of problems to solve.

You’re always going to be looking. You’re always going to be reacting. You’re always going to be in a negative mood. Whereas if you’re creating a lot of the obstacles that are there are simply going to dissolve for you. Those problems are not going to be solved, they’re literally going to be dissolved or kind of navigated around. So that is an important element of why you want to transition yourself away from the negative into the positive.

The Power Of Negative Leverage

To answer a few objections, I think one objection might be, and this is kind of a case in self-help, I think Tony Robbins is a big proponent of this and some other heavy hitters in the self-help arena, is that negative leverage can be a powerful way to get yourself to transform. Let’s say you are on the brink of losing your job and so that fear gets you motivated to go out there and do better, perform better and ultimately make some sort of drastic improvement in your life there. Or maybe you have a death in the family and that’s a really painful experience and all of a sudden that makes you realize something that you should be doing with your life, that you should be doing more.

All of a sudden now you’re driven by that negative emotion that you have. Examples like this, I think all of us have points in our lives where we experience something very painful that then told us that we would never want to experience that again and so therefore we’re driven away from that thing. We’re driven to change.

I’ve done that many times myself. I think that is definitely a way to motivate yourself. That’s something if you’re not motivated at all and you have the option between not being motivated at all, and being motivated by pain or fear or anger, whatever it is, go ahead and use that if you’re going to get positive benefit from it.

If you have your boss and you want to use that as leverage to start a business, go ahead and do that. If you hate your weight and you want to use that as leverage to get healthy and eat healthy, go ahead and do that. If you’re about to have your third heart attack because you’re eating so sloppily and you’re so overweight that you’ve got to fix that and you’re afraid of dying, then maybe that’s what you’ve got to do and you’ve got to work on.

That’s like the first step. That’s not a very high quality way to run your life. You can do that in the short run and get some good benefit out of it but it’s going to be hard to sustain that.

Ultimately what is your life about? You want to experience joy and happiness and be at peace. You don’t always want to be driven by these negative experiences in your life.

Quite frankly, those negative experiences, it’s enough to shift you away from that thing, but it’s not enough to really shift you into excellence at anything else. Maybe if you’re afraid of having a third heart attack, you’ll start going to the gym, exercising a little bit, watching your health but you’re doing it for the wrong reason. You’re doing it for this reason that you’re worried that you’re going to die prematurely and so you’re going to be taking the outer actions that you need to be taking but inside you’re going to be resisting.

You’re going to be struggling and you’re always going to be down on yourself. Why do I have to monitor myself? Why do I have to be eating these certain things? I hate these things. Why do I have to go to the gym? I hate going to the gym.

So it’s going to be a constant struggle even if you do manage to do it. Many times you won’t manage to do it. You’ll fall off. Whereas if you actually make an internal shift in why you’re doing it, maybe all of a sudden what you do is you use that pain to then create a vision for yourself.

The vision is that now you’re healthy, that you’ve got a lot of energy, that you love going to the gym, that you like monitoring stuff that you put in your body, that you actually are interested in your own health and you’re reading about health and you’re reading about taking supplements and taking yourself off of medications and looking for alternative medicines, whatever. Then that might be a positive vision that will get you much further because now all of a sudden you’re on board, your brain is on board with your body, it’s on board with what your doctor is telling you, it’s on board with what your friends and your family are telling you.

You Need To Be Motivated From Deep Inside You

What’s most important to get yourself on board with what you want to accomplish, not your body because your body can always do the actions, go through the motions, but if your motivation isn’t there, and that motivation comes from a deep vision of what you want, then you’re really always going to struggle.

I would ask you right now, what in your life do you have a strong vision for that you’re pursuing and what areas in your life are you doing simply because you’re trying to avoid something? You’re trying to avoid some negative reaction from somebody else like maybe a boss or a family member or a spouse. Maybe you’re trying to avoid some negative situation like you’re trying to avoid your electricity cut off by the electric company and so you go and you pay the bill. Or you’re trying to avoid looking fat so you’re going to the gym and you’re struggling through that.

Think about how you can shift that from the negative motivation to the positive. Think about what a positive vision for yourself might mean there and draft it out. Actually write it out, what that positive vision is. Try to get connected with it. Try to review that vision on a daily basis. It’s important that if you create a vision you don’t just look at it once, it’s something that you come to repeatedly because that is something that you work towards over the course of the next weeks and months and years.

Seek for that vision because I promise that once you have the right vision and that vision is in line with your deepest values, the action becomes effortless. You start reaching new levels, you start reaching new plateaus that you have not been able to overcome before. Now you start overcoming them. You’re probably on a plateau because you’re in that yo-yo effect and the pain that you used to get you to where you are right now, it’s kind of run its course. That fuel has burned out and now you need a new source of fuel and so that new source of fuel is vision.

I encourage you to create a vision, create a vision right now for one thing in your life that you want to improve and then that will be positive motivation. That will fuel you much better than the negative motivation that you’ve used in the past.

Personality Types

I want to add a couple more points that I forgot to add that I thought were important for this idea of positive and negative motivation. I started talking about personality types that in traditional psychology they like to say that there are some people that are pain avoiders and then others that are pleasure seekers and that some have tendency towards more than the other. Here are my thoughts on that.

I don’t want that to limit you in what you think you can accomplish and who you are. Even though you might be the kind of person that is so far in your life, been motivated by pain, I don’t want you to think that that is fundamental or core to your identity. That that cannot be changed. I think that’s total nonsense and that even if there is this divide between half the population is more driven by avoiding pain and half is more driven by avoiding pleasure, I don’t think that’s in any way inherent or biological or any of that kind of nonsense.

This is something that can be shifted and it’s important to realise the benefit of making that shift. If you’re heavily, heavily motivated by negativity, by pain, by discomfort and you’re always solving problems, you want to shift away from that because that can only get you so far. If you want better results then you’re going to have to make a deeper shift within yourself from negative to positive.

One example that I use in this, is psychology also has this personality type distinction between introvert and extrovert. This is something that goes all the way back to Carl Jung talking about that there are people out there general population, some people are very introverted, some people are very extroverted and then there’s some gradient in there, so it’s kind of like a range.

Ultimately this is something that’s inherent to human beings is that you’re either introverted, which means that you’re very in your head about things and that reality for you is about not what’s out there it’s more about how you perceive it and how you think about it. All the time you’re scanning, you’re looking, you’re taking stuff in but it’s not real for you until you can analyze it and process it and chunk it down for yourself. That’s how an introvert sees the world and interacts with the world.

Whereas the extrovert is more about just being in the external environment, the real world is out there for them. They don’t need to process things as much. They are more likely to just say something without thinking about it because for them saying it is what’s real. Thinking about that’s like a secondary function.

Whereas for the introvert they have to be very careful about what they say because they want to make sure it’s right, it’s true to their inner models of reality and then they’ll say it. The extrovert, exactly the opposite. This is why the extrovert, interestingly enough, always seems to have a lot of energy and gets charged by the environment, gets charged by being with people because you’re not expending so much energy processing. They’re soaking up energy from the environment and they’re just in it. They’re more present to the moment whereas the introvert is always analyzing.

That takes a lot of mental energy to do and so what happens is that they become fatigued when they’re in high stimulus environments talking to people, that’s sort of thing. So they like to retreat into themselves, they like to have private time, they like to sit at home, they like to do quiet things so they can recharge their batteries so that when they do go out into the world they need that energy to interact with it and process it.

Your Personality Is Not Set In Stone

These are two distinctions. I think they’re generally valid but I think this idea that you’re an introvert or an extrovert and that you’re somewhere along this range and that you’re just stuck there, maybe that’s how you were born or that’s how you grew up and now you’re stuck with that, that’s total nonsense. In fact I’ve really proven this to myself that that is not the case because I consider myself an extreme introvert.

I very much like my private time. I very much like my alone time. In the past I’ve had real difficulty interacting with people, being outspoken, being around people. It’s just not something that I enjoyed. It’s definitely something that drained me of energy and so I always considered myself an extreme introvert.

Then what I realized is that this was not something that I was happy with because it was limiting me in my life. I was an introvert and even though I liked being an introvert, it’s not that I want to change because I don’t like being an introvert, I just thought that I saw that there were certain things I couldn’t accomplish being an introvert like I couldn’t do public speaking well, I could not run a business successfully by being an introvert, I could not have the kind of impact that I want in the world really without going out there, interacting with people. I couldn’t have the intimate relationships that I wanted once I got this part of my life taken care of.

So what I did is I resolved to take a lot of action to start to shift my brain wiring, my brain chemistry to go more extrovert. It was challenging, let me tell you, because first of all I doubted whether it was possible to do. I didn’t want to just do it on a superficial level where I’m able to chat people up and do small talk and be out there, but still feel inside like I’m an introvert. Just acting and going through the motions of extroversion.

I went through this crazy process of cold approach pick-up. If you read ‘The Game’ by Mill Strauss then you might have an idea of what I’m talking about although that’s a very caricaturized, cartoon version of what cold approach pick-up really is. Basically it’s going out, pushing yourself to a lot of approaching in noisy bars and clubs so you get very comfortable flriting with the opposite sex and handling logistics and just understanding female psychology, that sort of thing.

So for me that was a really big and very dramatic experience. In fact it was probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’ve done some challenging things. I’ve lost sixty five pounds in five months, I’ve started six figure businesses, so all those things were much easier for me than mastering cold approach pick-up and getting this introversion/ extroversion shift because I think it was something that I was changing really deep within myself.

I realized that I need to change something about how I interact with people and so I took to going out for hours and hours and hours, every single night over the course of years, over the course of months and years, in order to get myself comfortable. It was really excruciating because the body wants to react against it. My brain was just wired in such a way where I’m much more comfortable staying home and reading a book than I am going out to some loud-ass night club and approaching random strangers and flirting with them.

That was something that’s totally uncomfortable for me. It took a lot of brute force, brute force, brute force, night and night and night again until finally my brain started coming around. I won’t say that I made that full transition, by no means. I still consider myself a pretty hardcore introvert, but I’ve definitely made a shift.

I’ve been doing it for about a year and half and going out, pretty much spending so much time doing it. It’s just like the trauma of doing that, the events, the experience that I’ve had were so traumatic, so exhilarating, so eye-opening, so mind blowing that there’s no way that it’s not going to shift the neurons in your head to re-wire and to start to see things differently. I’ve noticed myself inching over more towards the extrovert from the introvert that I was at and I can definitely see that if I keep doing that for another five years that I will really make a really solid, full transition to extrovert.

I’m not talking about just through outer motions. I’m talking about a deep inner change. Your psychology is actually changing when you’re doing this. Your personality, your identity, what you think you are is changing because you’re just so open to the experience. You’re not holding yourself back, you’re not clinging to who you are and these events are coming in and you’re trying to see new perspectives on the world and your brain is changing along, coming along for the ride.

You Decide Who You Want To Be

Basically the bottom line of why I’m talking about this is that I just wanted to use this as an example to say that things you think are fundamental to you are not as fundamental as you think they are. This idea of personality types that you’re this type or that type I think is total nonsense. You might lean towards one or the other but ultimately you are what you create yourself to be and what you want to be.

If you’re not happy with the results that you’re getting in your life, if some aspect of you is holding you back and you want to change it, go ahead and change it. Don’t let any limiting belief hold you back like it’s not possible. I like to approach everything I do in personal development as that it’s possible for me to become who I want to be. It’s just a matter of who do I want to be and putting the effort forward to do that.

If you are identifying with this idea of being driven by pain, by being driven by negative emotions all the time, by negative emotion, then don’t let that limit you and don’t say to yourself that, “Well, I’m just that kind of person and that I can’t shift to a positive. I’m not a positive thinking person.” It has nothing to do about positive thinking.

It’s about the vision that you have. Can you create a vision for yourself? Are you empowered by that vision? If you start creating visions for yourself and you start acting on those visions and you’re always focusing using law of attraction, you’re always focusing on what you want rather than the things that you don’t want, you’re going to start making that progress. If you do that long enough and if you do that diligently enough you’re going to make that shift that I’m talking about.

You’re going to move from negative motivation to positive motivation and that’s not just going to be some outward, superficial change. It might start that way but eventually you internalize it. It’s that ‘fake it till you make it’ mindset. At first you might have to fake it but eventually you fake it long enough you start to believe in it, you start to adapt to it, it starts to become real for you, you start to internalize it, your brain chemistry literally starts to change and to formulate a new identity for you.

If you find yourself stuck where you are, you’re not happy with the yo-yo effect that you’ve been having, you don’t like the frustration of being motivated by negativity and fear and pain and anger then now you see that there’s this new avenue for you. Positive motivation. Go ahead and take the actions necessary to make that shift for yourself. Start by creating a vision and maybe the vision for you right now is that you’re going to be positively motivated instead of negatively motivated and that for me from now on that you’re committed to looking only at the things that you want to create in your life and not the things that you don’t want.

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Five says:

I wonder how can I use the positive motivation to fight addiction. I’m addicted to porn and the only reasons I see for quitting are it’s negative consequences: huge loss of time, low self-esteem. How do I turn that around?

If I develop a huge vision of what I want to accomplish in my life, I’m gonna realise that I need to overcome the addiction before I can ever reach my goals. So is that negative motivation or positive?

Leo Gura says:

The huge vision part is good! Now stop thinking about your fucking addiction and go work on the vision! << that is positive motivation. Crowd the addiction out of your mindspace. Not because you want to get rid of it, but because you have a cool vision to work on.

See how that works?

Five says:

Okay, I get it. I have been realizing this on some level during my recent meditations on the matter. I have to focus all my energy on the primary goal. Thanks, man.

Swapnil Mehta says:

Hi Leo. I am listening to your videos since 2 years now & Iam growing & understanding life relatively very well. Thanks for giving the understanding. The challenge I am facing is, I know I have to study but I dont. I know I have to eat healthy but I dont. I want to do all this but I dont do. I see my mentors & my heros doing it but still I dont do it. Since months I am wondering & getting frustated about why I dont do it. But still I dont do it. What is happening? Please help. I want to do all this. Please help.

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