Appetite is an instinctive human regulatory device. We do not have to do anything to create it; it is already there. We were born with some level of appetite necessary to keep us alive.
Motivation for achievement is also an instinctive human regulatory device. We do not have to do anything to create it; it is already there. We were born with some level of motivation necessary to keep us alive.
Because appetite and motivation are instinctive, they predate our knowledge of their existence. But that doesn’t mean we are powerless to change them. We already know how to regulate appetite: drink two big glasses of water before a meal, and you will reduce your appetite for food.
In the same way, we can kill or whet our appetite for success. If you spend your time worrying and impatiently awaiting an easy life, you will reduce your motivation for success. If, on the other hand, you pursue activities you really care about, your motivation will increase. Cultivate your instincts in the direction you want them to lead you, and your growing motivation will make the pursuit of success easier. “I was the kind of student that really upset the teachers,” says Herbert Brennan, “because they believed I could be a good student but I never tried very hard. All through high school, I was no more than mediocre—listlessly going through the motions of chemistry, algebra, history, English, and the rest.”
Herbert says he barely made it into the local state college, “and when I got there, I loafed my way through the placement exams, barely scoring outside of the remedial range.”
Sometime early in his freshman year, everything changed. “I remember the feeling to this day because it was so shocking. I was sitting down to read a book for my history class, and it hit me that I was happy about it. I was looking forward to opening the book and investing myself in it.”
Herbert graduated with honors with a degree in history and then went on to graduate school, ultimately to become a professor. “I became a different student when I found a subject I loved, and I was unstoppable once I knew what it was.”
Long-term studies of motivation find that people are capable of reducing or improving their level of motivation by as much as 58 percent during their careers.
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