I remember talking to a big shot screenwriter for one of the leading YouTube production companies in Moscow. We worked together on channels for our company’s major clients, and currently he was working on a channel for one of the big influencers (the type that has 1M+ followers). He told me something that stuck with me:
I believe in motivation and inspiration by envy. We show off expensive cars, and rich champagne lifestyle so that people watch these videos and feel motivated to go on and achieve success.
It sounds logical. But I could never bring myself to agree with this. I still can’t.
To me, envy and jealousy go straight in the ‘negative motivation’ bucket. The opposite is ‘positive motivation’ — which is inspired by feelings of gratitude, love, creativity and desire to bring value to others and the world around you.
It’s the positive motivation that makes real change. It’s the positive motivation that creates win-win situations and is a positive sum game (i.e. everybody wins and there is abundance of resources).
It’s the negative motivation that breeds zero-sum games and ‘you lose, I win’ mentality. And it’s the negative motivation that eats up so many young folks up inside.
Unfortunately, in the world where there is so much visible success, positive motivation is rarer than ever.
Here are a few principles we should remind ourselves of to stay on the right track.
Becoming successful is not the same as ‘becoming’
We live in the world where barriers to entry in almost any sphere or vocation are 0. You can become anything, almost for free.
Want to become an entrepreneur? Sure, here’s a Stripe account, here’s a Wordpress page, here’s Shopify, here’s all these free (or very cheap) resources that can make you an entrepreneur today.
Want to become a blogger? Absolutely, here’s YouTube, Medium, Telegram, Whatsapp, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram — pick your platform, set up an account, post ‘publish’ and you’re one.
You can become anyone instantly. There is almost no friction. However, becoming is not the same as becoming successful. And it’s very easy to confuse the two.
Folks that start, think they’ll become an immediate success. They aren’t to blame, because they see all these successful people — entrepreneurs, bloggers, doing the same thing as they do, posting the same texts, making the same businesses, working the same hours, right by their side.
The newbie and the expert live on the same platforms, doing the same things. It seems, that there is no difference between a beginner and a veteran.
But there is.
As a newbie blogger, you can write posts with the same headlines and similar quality as someone who has been on the platform for a while, but you won’t be the same. You didn’t put the time in. You didn’t go through the same learning curve.
You didn’t make it (yet).
You can become anything (but not everything!). And to become successful, you’ll have to do the work. Free resources and easy ‘becoming’ doesn’t guarantee becoming an instant success.
In fact, because it’s so cheap and easy to become anything, you’ve got some serious competition. Breaking through the noise and becoming successful is harder than ever.
Success takes *MUCH* longer than you think
I started writing when I was 16. I didn’t do it for the money, for the fame, for anything in fact. I just liked to write.
Over the past 6 years I’ve switched 3 website blogs and created 2 channels in YouTube and Telegram. I also published a book in my home country. I’ve achieved some level of success as a young writer and content creator.
But last month I started writing on Medium, in English, for the first time, taking myself completely outside my comfort zone. I still have a long way to go.
My point is this: often people start doing something because they see other people’s success. They feel motivated. Inspired. Energized. Driven. They start making that blog or creating that business, and are surprised when they don’t see the results come quickly.
The thing is, it takes a long time to become successful. A very. Long. Time.
Of all the people I’ve interviewed for my YouTube channel or produced for others, the biggest successes were those that did their thing for decades. What we want, is to be successful next month.
When all you see is the other person’s end result (usually, of a 5–10–15 year haul), it’s very easy to feel like a failure yourself. But you aren’t one. Chances are, you are actually doing everything right. You are just very early in the process.
Very often people think that they don’t see results quickly because they are doing something wrong. Wrong. You are doing everything right. You just need more time.
Give yourself 12 months. Stick to whatever you are doing. See what happens.
External vs internal motivation
Going back to the discussion of a positive versus negative motivation, I believe that most people are doing things for the wrong reasons.
I know I did.
For a long time, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. But not because I loved building businesses. I wanted to prove something to someone and simply make money. I wanted to be like all those successful millennials on the covers of Success, Fortune, Fast Company.
Like many, I was jealous.
To continue ‘hustling’, I had to inject ‘inspiration’ from GaryVee, read motivating self-help before bed and get really high on it.
It wasn’t before I started creating content full-time that I realized how delusional I was. When I write, I don’t need to be motivated. I don’t need inspirational talks (unless I am really depressed, which happens rarely) and all of that crap.
When you are doing ‘your thing’, your motivation is internal, and you don’t need to push yourself. You are having fun.
On the other hand, if you need to be constantly motivated, chances are, you’re doing the wrong thing. When your motivation is external, it will run out, unless you inject more of it.
Jealousy is a scary thing. It’s the plague of our generation. It can lead you on a path that is not yours. It can make you do things that you wouldn’t do otherwise, but feel obligated to because ‘they’ are doing it.
In the world of so much visible success, it’s easy to become prey to this.
Don’t. If you are doing something, make sure it’s for the right reasons.
We live in a great time, full of opportunity. In fact, there is so much opportunity, that we encounter the ‘Netflix paradox’ — the paradox of choice. When there is so much choice, whom should you become? What should you do with your life?
You won’t find the answer here, nor in any other article, podcast, speech or book. It’s something that you should figure out for yourself.
One thing, though. Whatever you do, make sure you understand that ‘becoming’ is not the same as becoming successful. It will take a lot of time, possibly years. And make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.
Make sure your motivation is positive, and don’t fall prey to the ‘images of success’ on YouTube. It’s all bullshit. I know.