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5 – Motivation

Lesson 5

The class today is on motivation. So, for this class to work, we need to hire the expertise of a motivation expert, somebody who knows how to motivate you, to get you to do your best work, to do the most amazing work. Happily, we know who that person is. And that person is you. You turn out to be the world's best expert in knowing what best motivates you.


And so, for the rest of this class, all we are doing is helping you discover it for yourself. In fact, I would suggest that this is true in general for Search Inside Yourself that you are the world's top expert at everything that we talked about in this class, but it's especially true for these classes especially true for motivation. You are best at knowing what motivates you.

So, with that, let's talk about what we're going to do today. Today we've going to cover the three easy steps to motivation. And the three easy steps are: alignment, envisioning and resilience. And here's the idea.

Alignment is about aligning you up with your deepest values. The idea is that if what you're doing is aligned with what you most value in life, then you're more likely to do outstanding work. So, that's alignment. Envisioning is once you are aligned, once you know where you are, envisioning helps you envision where you want to be. What is your ideal future? The idea is that once you can imagine your ideal future, it's much easier to get there. So, that's step 2. Step 3, resilience. So, once you find your deepest values and you can see ideal future, resilience helps you to get there. It gives you the optimism and the power to arrive at your ideal future.

So, this my friends, is a complete package for living your dreams, I hope. I hope it's a good dream. I'm going to begin the alignment module by telling you a story of my friend. His name is Tony Hsieh. A fellow Chinese guy. Good looking Chinese guy like me. The funny story I told is that once I had to speak on the same conference as Tony and I spoke right after him, so I had to introduce myself as the other good-looking Chinese guy.

So, Tony. Tony is an inspiration to me. When he was, I think, 24 years old, Tony before he sold his company to Microsoft for, if I remember correctly, $265 million and change, or something.

But Tony did not stop there. And that's not what is most inspiring about me. After he made a lot of money, Tony went on to fulfill his dream. Which was at that time, when he was young, he always wanted to live near a Taco Bell and a movie theater. So, he bought a house next to a Taco Bell and a movie theater and his dream was fulfilled. But beyond that, beyond that he went on to become the CEO of a company called Zappos, which some of you have heard of. 

Interesting thing by Zappos is that when Tony took over Zappos as CEO, the company was basically not doing it, not selling anything. The sales was basically zero. Tony brought this company from zero to a billion dollars in sales. Which is amazing. But that is not even the most inspiring part of Tony's story. The most inspiring part is how he skillfully made use of happiness as a corporate strategy. And not as a corporate strategy, as a very successful corporate strategy.

So, what did he do? Tony figured out something very important. He figured out the idea which he calls delivering happiness. And the idea is this. He figured out if he delivers happiness to his employees, his employees will be happy and then they in turn would deliver happiness to the customers and customers will be happy. And if the customers are happy, they just spend more money on Zappos and Zappos will have lots of money. That's the theory.

In practice, it ended up working really well. In practice, because Tony has done so much for his employees and his employee serve his customers so well, there are at least two or three very important effects beside the billion dollars in sales. One effect is that the company ended up not spending money on marketing because the customer service is so good that people talk about Zappos to friends and so therefore, they don't have to spend money on marketing, and it saved a lot of money.

The other thing that's interesting is that the customer service was so outstanding that there was at least one year when Zappos was rated more highly for customer service than Four Seasons Hotel. Four Seasons. I mean, imagine? Four Seasons Hotel, Dot-com company in Nevada and the Dot-com company won? That is how amazing it is. And Tony, to his credit, he figured out something really important about happiness. He figured out the three levels of happiness as shown on this slide. 

The three are: pleasure, passion, and purpose. The interesting thing about the three levels of happiness is the difference in the sustainability.

So, pleasure for example, is highly unsustainable. If you experience pleasure, it's really nice but it doesn't sustain itself right. After a while, you start habituating to the pleasure and you need more better and newer and better higher highs to get to the next level, to maintain your happiness.

Passion. Passion is a lot more sustainable than pleasure. Passion it means doing something that gives you pleasure. That the work itself is intrinsically pleasurable for you., So that's passion.

Purpose is even more sustainable. Purpose is a highly sustainable source of happiness. Doing something that is meaningful to you. That creates a lot of happiness. So, comparing the three. Pleasure is the least sustainable. Passion is more sustainable. And purpose is highly sustainable as a source of happiness.

Recognizing this, you will find something interesting about ourselves, right? Usually, we spend a lot of time and effort thinking about and pursuing pleasure. We spend some time on passion and then every now and then we think about purpose which, if you think about it, it's sub-optima because if you think about the sustainability of each level, you should be doing precisely the reverse. You should be spending most of your time and effort on purpose. And then a couple of times a week engage in passion and get you doing something that you find intrinsically rewarding. And then every now and then you get pleasure, you get you get an injection of a nice bonus, you get a treat from the boss and so on. So, this should be the most sustainable way and that is what you figured out. 

He figured out it's true for individual and also for a company. And that is why he decided that the most sustainable source of happiness for his company and its employees is purpose, creating meaningful work, serving customers, doing something that people find meaningful. And that turns out to be a very successful formula for happiness for him and his company and his employees.

Which leads us to a complimentary idea of intrinsic motivators. And the question behind his ideas is this; how do you best motivate people to do outstanding work? Our standard answer is pay them. Pay them more. The more you pay them the higher, the better work they produce. The research suggests that that approach doesn't always work. And this is what intrinsic motivators is about.

So, let me tell you what they are. According to Dan Pink these are the three intrinsic motivators. Autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Autonomy is the urge to direct our own lives. Mastery is the desire to become better and better at something that matters to us. 

​Purpose is a yearning to do what we do in service of something larger than ourselves. It turns out that these three motivators are far more motivating than just money alone.

So, money is something we call a hygiene factor when it comes to motivation. What does hygiene factor mean? So, that that term comes from public restrooms. So, if you go to public restrooms, it's dirty. You notice. And if it goes from dirty to clean, you notice the difference. However, if it goes from clean to very clean, it makes no difference to you. And it turns out to be the same with salary. If you're underpaid, it hurts you. If you go from being underpaid to well-paid, you notice the difference. However, if you go from well-paid to very well paid, you don't notice that much of a difference. It doesn't motivate you as much. What really motivates you, are the intrinsic motivators, you see on the screen right now.

And there are a couple of fascinating experiments to illustrate this point. So, one experiment that illustrates this point is the Kenda problem which came from the 1940s. And it's a very simple idea. So, here's the problem. The participant comes into a room and he sees three items on the table. He sees a candlestick, a box of matches, and a box of thumbtacks or pushpins, what do you call them, thumbtacks.

So, he's told that he needs to find a way to stick the candle onto the wall. How do you do that? So, the solution, as you can see, is on the slide right now. The interesting thing is the insight required to solve this problem is realizing that the box is part of the solution. And it's not obvious at first, right? When you walk into a room and you see the setup, you would first thing you think of is the box is there to hold the tacks. So, the "aha" moment, the insight is, "Ah, the box is part of solution." Then you solve it. So, there's a little bit of creativity involved in that experiment. 

So, so here's the experiment. You get two groups of people randomly assigned. First group we call them the control group. For the control group you tell those kids, or those participants that we are trying to establish a distribution of how long it takes to solve the problem. So, you take as long as you need. I mean, try to solve it quickly but it doesn't matter. Whatever time you take we will pay you the same amount of money. So, that's the control group.

For the other group, we call the experimental group, you tell them this thing is competitive. So, the faster you take to solve this problem, the more money we'll pay you. And what's real, interesting counter intuitively it turns out that the experimental group did worse than the control group. They took longer to solve the problem. So, the monetary incentive did not just not work. It made it worse. If you pay people more for performance, they do worse, which is shocking.

But the story gets better. It gets even more interesting. So, you do another set of experiment. This time when the participants come into the room, you empty the box of thumbtacks beforehand so that when the participants come in, they see a box, thumbtacks, candle and matchsticks. So, the moment they walk in, immediately it's clear that the box is part of the solution. So, therefore in their situation, no creativity is required. And in that situation, the experimental group, the group that gets paid more incentivize for performance, that group does better than the control group.

And what does that tell you? It tells you that the pay for performance only works in situations that do not require creativity. If creativity is required, then paying more can actually hurt performance which is fascinating. And in those situations, the only real motivators are the intrinsic motivators.

So, having said all we just said; recognizing the usefulness of alignment in motivation. The question is, how do you create alignment? And the answer it turns out to be is as simple as you think it is. 

​Alignment comes from self-awareness. Specifically, it comes from self-assessment.

If you know, for example, what your weaknesses are, what your strengths are, what your resources are, what you like to do, what makes you happy, things like that, if you have clarity on those things, what happens? What happens is when opportunities arise for you to do what you like to do you are there to capture those opportunities.

If you didn't have that clarity, opportunities are just going to come and go and you just going to see them [whoosh] right in front of your eyes. However, if you have the clarity, the self-assessment, "No. This is what I wanted to do next. this is what I want to do for the rest of my life." or "This is what really makes me happy." And then the opportunity comes in front of you, you captivate it. And that is why people who have a lot of self-awareness, people who are clear of what they want, they seem to get what you want.

Well, it turns out we all have opportunities but those people, they are there to capture the opportunity. So therefore, to be lucky is actually very simple. To be lucky is to just have the clarity to know what you're looking for so that when it arises you are there to catch it.

Question then. How do we create the type of self-awareness that create alignment? And again, by now, you should know the answer. The answer is mindfulness. If you have been practicing the mindfulness that we've been doing in this class for the past few weeks then eventually, you would create the kind of self-knowledge and self-assessment needed for alignment. So, simple as that. You don't have to do anything extra. That's the good news. And as usual with me, there's better news. The better news is that there's something you can do to accelerate that process even.

How do you do that? And again, it's very simple, it's very obvious. The way to do that is verbalize, which means talk about it. So, it's very simple. The idea is to always talk about or at least, not always, but find opportunities to talk about what motivates you.

​What are your core values? What matters to you? Why is that helpful?

Very simple. Because those things like what makes me happy, they are very abstract. When you talk about them, you are forced to verbalize them. And once you verbalize them, they become more tangible. Most importantly, they become more tangible to yourself and that is how talking about your values create the conditions for the type of self-awareness that leads to alignment.

I want to tell you two stories. I usually tell you one story, now I tell you two because it's two-for-the-price-of-one day. So, the first story is a story of my friend Roz Savage. You see Roz rowing a boat. Why do I show a picture of Roz rowing a boat. Because Roz Savage became one of the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean solo, by herself. One woman, one boat, across the Atlantic Ocean. As if that's not amazing enough, Roz Savage them became the first woman in the world to row solo across the Pacific Ocean. And she did it in three stages. I think the first stage was from San Francisco to, if I remember correctly, Hawaii and then from Hawaii to Papua New Guinea and I think Papua New Guinea to Australia or something like that. 

And in each leg, she was the first woman ever to row solo across the leg and combined all three legs, she's the first woman ever to row across the Pacific Ocean. And the last I heard, she was rowing across the Indian Ocean. And I told Roz, "Oh man, you're going to run out of oceans very soon." So, that's the story of Roz, which is a continuing story. And you might wonder what got Roz motivated enough to row across oceans.

So, her story was this. Roz, she was from London and she was a professional. And if I remember correctly, she was a management consultant in London. She had a comfortable middle class or upper middle-class life. She had a house, she had cars, she had a husband, everything was doing great. One day she did an exercise. She wrote her own eulogy. She wrote about what people say about her after she dies. Interesting thing is she wrote two versions of a eulogy.

The first version is her eulogy assuming her life goes on her current trajectory. A second version was a eulogy assuming that she lived the life she wanted to live. And while she was writing the two eulogies, she discovered something very important. She discovered that when she was writing the first eulogy, like her life at the current trajectory, she discovered that her energy was completely drained away. She was so drained she could not finish that article.

The second eulogy she discovered her energy was so high. While writing, she didn't want to stop writing it. And that was a very powerful discovery for her, which led her to decide to live the life that she wanted to live. And what did she want to do? She wanted to row across oceans. And that's how she started her life as ocean explorer.

And when I tell this story, one question that many people have is they assume that for Roz to be able to do this, she must be rich. They say, "I'm not rich. I can't do that." Well, I can assure you Roz is not rich. You can see this picture of Roz in her boat. This boat and everything inside the boat was her entire net worth on the day this picture was taken. Her entire net worth, this is it. That's all she had. So, she spent her entire fortune pursuing this dream, buying the boat and buying everything in the boat.

So, this is the first story the second story is somebody closer to home, closer to where I live. It's a story of this person, my friend again, his name is Marc Allen. So, here's a story of Mark. Mark, he was 30 years old on his 30th birthday. He woke up and he was in shock. So, the story that he told was, he was just fired as a busboy and a dishwasher. He was broke. His rent was $65 a month, he's trying to get $65 bucks to pay his rent.

And he looked at his life and one thing he told himself he said, "I'm 30 years old. I'm a grown man now. I'm not a kid anymore. So, what do I do in my future.?" So, he did an exercise, a journey exercise. So, journey exercise was this. He wrote about what his life will be like in five years if everything turned out well or if everything meets or exceeds his highest expectation.

So, he wrote about his life. In that journey exercise he wrote that he is going to be a successful publisher. He's going to publish books. He's going to publish music and he's going to do that with a stress-free relaxed life. He's not going to be overworked. And if you think back from that point of view it's kind of funny in the absurd kind of way. Here's a guy who was broke, had no money, who could not keep a job and he's going to be a successful publisher in five years.

So, what happened? Well if you fast forward a little bit, Marc Allen is today, known as a very successful publisher. He is the founder and publisher of New World Library who, among others, published Eckart Tolle and the early books off Deepak Chopra and marks himself financially very successful. And he still lives a relaxed life. He wakes up on most days at 11a.m. [??] and goes to work before 1:00p.m. 

​And here my friends is the power of envisioning. It's the power of writing down your ideal future on paper. Because you wrote it down, becomes more tangible to you.

And then by doing that, it creates the condition for your actual success. So, for myself, I five years ago when I'd did this...oh actually it was more than five now. I think seven years ago, when I did this exercise for the first time, my dream was to create the conditions for world peace in my lifetime. That was my dream. And of course, it continues to be my dream today. 

And so, as I wrote about and as I talked about it to my friends, I realized this process. I realized that when I wrote about it, it was impossible. I mean, World Peace. Come on. Impossible.

However, the more I talked about it, you went from impossible to implausible. And then you went from implausible to possible. And you went from possible to, most importantly, actionable. There are things that I can actually do to move this forward. And that's what led to my life today. That's what led me to creating Search Inside Yourself and writing my book and doing whatever else I'm doing to create the conditions for world peace today.

So, that's the first thing. Talking about it makes it tangible and it makes it actionable. In addition to that, there's a very important second reason. You want to talk about this a lot. Especially if your dream is something that involves the greater good, which is that the more you talk about it the more you inspire other people. And then when you inspire other people, they want to help you. So, for example, I mean if your dream is about driving a nice car, nobody cares.

However, if you dream about something that is serving other people, for example, you do not ever want to see a hungry person in San Francisco again. That's a dream, right? Or, maybe not the whole city, maybe your own local community. You want every kid to be taken care of, right? Or every stray animal to be taken care of, something like that. Something that is beneficial to something larger than yourself. If you say that out loud, I guarantee you the most likely response from other people is, "How do I help you?" Because people want to be inspired by goodness. 

So, every time you create intention for goodness, you inspire people. And they want to participate. And that is how I got to have so many allies. The more I talk about creating the conditions for World Peace, the more people will say, "Oh, I want to help you," or "I know this person you can talk to who can help you." And so, my circle or my friends and allies got bigger and bigger. And it started including luminaries. It started including people like Daniel Goleman and Jon Kabat-Zinn and it eventually it started including people like the Dalai Lama and Jimmy Carter. And it's because of this [??] is because I put out my intention to serve good for the world. 

​And my friends, I want to encourage you to do the same thing. Create intention that serves the greater good for yourself and for the world, envision to future and then talk about this a lot to other people and inspire them.

So, how do you create resilience? You do it in three steps. The first step is inner calm. The second step is emotional resilience or developing emotional resonance and the third step is developing cognitive resilience. And you might notice that this mirrors the structure of Search Inside Yourself in general. The first step is training the attentional training. The second step is affective training and the third step is cognitive training. Almost as usual.

So, the first, inner calm, is very straightforward and by now all of you should be familiar with this, which is the idea that the first, the basic foundation of resilience, is the ability to bring the mind to a place that is calm and clear at the same time, which comes from mindfulness, which we have been learning for the past few weeks. Once you create the ability, once your mindfulness is so strong that, no matter what happens, no matter how you're feeling, no matter how things are crashing and burning, you can create a mind that is calm and clear at the same time. Then you have the foundation of resilience.

So, let's step one. And by now you all already have, you're already there, you already know how to do this. As usual, there's better news. Step two: emotional resilience. This is the recognition that success and failure, they are both emotional experiences and like every other emotion experience they are also physiological experiences. Therefore, to deal with the experience of success or failure, we need to get to the level of emotions which means we need to get to a level of physiology. And we will do an exercise which explores the physiology, the physiological aspects of success and failure. And in doing that exercise will help you gain familiarity, awareness, and thereby gain resilience to the experience. 

And the third is cognitive resilience which basically means creating the conditions for optimism. And we talk about that in the next few minutes. But first, an interesting recognition that the beginning of resilience is failure. Specifically recognizing that failure is common, and failure is the beginning of success. How common?

So, here's a story I'm going to share. Actually, it's not my story. You can see from this slide, it's a story of an athlete who, by his own account, is a failure and the difference is this person is brave enough to talk about how much he is failing life. And since he's so brave, I'll just quote him. So, this is what he said. Oh, by the way, he's a basketball player. And he says, "I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games, 26 times I've entrusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed." And his name is Michael Jordan.

And for those of you who do not know Michael Jordan, well shame on you. He's only the greatest basketball player of all time. Anyway, for those of you who do not know. Well, if failure is not bad enough for you well there's worse news. So, there's a change. I know this. Bad news and worse news. The worst news is that you don't just fail. You have to feel stupid. And here's a quote from this guy called Nathan Myhrvold and he says, "Lewis and Clark were lost most of the time. If your idea of exploration is to always know where you are and to be inside your zone of competence, you don't do wow new shit. You have to be confused, upset, think you're stupid. If you are not willing to do that, you cannot go outside the box.".

The interesting thing about this quote is who it came from, Nathan Myhrvold. Who is Nathan Myhrvold? Anybody knows who he is? Well, people from the tech sector would know because Nathan...Let me tell you a bit of his life story. He finished his Ph.D. at the age of 23. Really really smart. He didn't just finish his Ph.D. at 23. He also became the CTO, the chief technology officer of Microsoft. He was also a founder of Microsoft Research, so amazing engineer. And as if that's not enough, he is also a world winning wildlife photographer. And if that's not enough, he is also a certified master chef. He is so smart that Bill Gates, his best friend, says, "I don't know anybody smarter than Nathan.".

And even for Nathan Myhrvold, even for him, innovation involves feeling stupid, being confused, and so on. And once I recognized that, I realized that my life is not so bad. That even though I feel stupid all the time, if even Nathan Myhrvold has to feel stupid to do amazing things, I can give myself a license for being stupid. 

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