Three Deadly Assassins of Motivation

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They’re out there. They’re waiting for you.  Silently – a drop of poison, a stiletto to the heart – or with dramatic flair – an I.E.D. or rocket launcher – they will try to take you down, determined to kill your desire to succeed. Beware these three deadly assassins.

Avoid the Deadly Three

When you don’t feel motivated to make a change in your life that you really should make, it could be because you are just being lazy.  But, quite often it is because you’ve been nailed by one of the Deadly Three.  The Deadly Three have killed more hopes and dreams than just about anything else on this planet.

You should protect yourself against the Deadly Three at all costs.  Thanks for reading.

Oh, wait, you want to know who the Deadly Three are?  Well, if you’ll watch my back while I tell you, I’ll share this bit of intel.  Oh, and you can’t let them know I’m the one who told you – I’m trying to stay on their good side.

Here we go. (You are still watching over my back aren’t you?)  The Deadly Three are Fear, Doubt, and Contentment.

Fear is the Mind Killer

“Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death.”  This line from Frank Herbert’s Dune sums up quite nicely what happens when you let fear overstep its bounds.  Fear is a defensive response, independent of rational thought, that alerts us to some danger.  Fear, in and of itself, can actually be a good thing, protecting us from harm.  However, if allowed to expand beyond its warning role, fear can cloud judgment and kill initiative.

The most common fears that can  keep you from taking action and stand in the way of your success in life are fear of failure and fear of the unknown.

Fear of failure is incredibly common, so don’t feel bad if you’ve got it.  Most people simply don’t like to fail.  I won’t get into the whole nature versus nurture debate on this one, but it is interesting to note that everything you learned to do as a child came by trying and failing over and over again before you finally succeeded.  The fear of failure came later.  Hmm….

However it came, fear of failure, when overstepping its bounds, can be deadly.  Why?  Because you simply don’t act.  “If I don’t do anything then I can’t fail and I won’t be hurt.”  There’s a logical fallacy there, but how often do we actually make decisions based on logic?  So any attempt to change for the better is killed before it even begins.

Fear of the unknown can be equally as deadly.  Facing the unknown, stepping out into the darkness, requires you to step outside your comfort zone.  There is a reason it is called the “comfort” zone: that’s where you feel safe and secure.  By definition, anything outside your comfort zone is uncomfortable.  As a general matter, human beings don’t like discomfort.

Doubt Kills the Spirit

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” ~Khalil Gibran

Like fear, doubt is a red flag.  It warns us that something is amiss.  Doubt keeps us from jumping headfirst into every harebrained scheme that comes along. Doubt says, “Take a moment and think before you act.”  However, when doubt starts using words like “can’t”, “should”, “shouldn’t”, or “what if” then you should start to doubt doubt.  It has started to overstep its bounds.

When doubt oversteps its bounds it starts to kill the spirit.  It saps your energy and confidence.  You start to believe that you can’t accomplish your desire.  Maybe you doubt your own ability.  Maybe you doubt the process or tools you have.  Maybe you doubt the other people you need to rely on to make something happen. Regardless of which doubt it is, you don’t think it will work. When you don’t think you can do something you don’t give it your best effort or maybe even any effort at all.

I’ll address how to deal with the Fear and Doubt assassins in another post, but for now I’ll share this quote I like from Dale Carnegie.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Contentment is the Most Deadly of All

Of the three, contentment is actually the most deadly.  Why?  Because it is so innocent, so innocuous, that you don’t even know it is stopping you at all.  Contentment tells us that everything is fine.  Things are going good.  No need to change.  Why would you want to rock the boat?

Now, just like fear and doubt, contentment is not always bad.  It provides comfort, it provides security, and it keeps the “grass is always greener” bug at bay.  However, it can also stifle dreams and innovation.  Without vision, without the dream to create something bigger or better, there would never be new advancements in medicine, art, science, engineering or any other aspect of life.

Okay, now you know.  Are you still watching my back?  Maybe I’ve said too much – they may be closing in as we speak – but at least now you’ll be forewarned.  There is more that you must know.  Not here, not now.  But I’ll be in touch…