10 min read ⌚
How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win
You think that you need a motivational speaker to get yourself motivated?
Jeff Haden is here to burst your bubble: you believe in a myth, he says.
Who Should Read “The Motivation Myth”? And Why?
If you are a fan of books on motivation, then be sure to check Haden’s book out for quite a few counterintuitive advices.
The most important among them: motivation is not merely the precondition for success; it’s also its result; and it’s not that easy to separate the two as most of the other books do.
To quote Dr. Dan Reardon, the co-founder of FitnessGenes, “a must read for all entrepreneurs, company executives, managers, parents, coaches, and wellbeing hackers.”
About Jeff Haden
Jeff Haden is an American journalist, one of the most popular columnists at Inc.com, where he is also a contributing editor.
Even so, The Motivation Myth is his first book; previously, he has written a few more but only as a ghostwriter.
Find out more at https://www.jeffhaden.com/
“The Motivation Myth PDF Summary”
Introduction: You Can Do—and Be—So Much More Than You Think
Quick: what do the Philadelphia 76ers and Jeff Haden have in common?
Of course it’s not funny!
But that’s only because you haven’t read The Motivation Myth.
If we are forced to summarize it in one word, then “process” is definitely the one we’ll choose. As Jeff Haden explains in the “Introduction,” the difference between successful/happy people and the rest of us is because the former understand both success and happiness as processes, not moments.
In other words, it’s not about the finish line and the gold medal – it’s about the race; or, to use a Joseph Campbell quote, “the goal of the journey is the journey itself.”
“When you consistently do the right things,” writes Haden, “success is predictable. Success is inevitable. You just can’t think about it too much. No obsessing allowed.”
But let’s see how this process works in Jeff Haden’s understanding.
Chapter 1: Motivation Is Not the Spark
Haden begins his book by taking a swipe at Tony Robbins’ extremely popular book, Unleash the Power Within.
If you remember well, one of the key moments of that seminar is the “hot coals” walk, which Robbins describes as “a symbolic experience that proves if you can make it through the fire, you can make it through anything.”
It sure sounds great – and not only because it reminds us of one of our favorite The Office moments. After all, fire-walking should give you confidence and motivation – just enough to awake that sleeping giant of potential within you.
It doesn’t work that way.
Simply put, motivation is never something that can be initiated via a one-off event; and even fire-walking is just that.
You need much more than that to get motivated. Fire-walking or a great motivational speech rile you up for a few hours, but you wake up the next day no different than the day before.
Haden uncovers the deeper problem:
Most people are confused about the source of motivation. They think motivation is the spark that automatically produces lasting eagerness to do hard work; the greater the motivation, the more effort you’re willing to put in.
Actually, motivation is a result. Motivation is the pride you take in work you have already done—which fuels your willingness to do even more.
In a nutshell, motivation stems from success and fuels more success; consequently, the only thing you need to succeed is just one small victory to get a head start.
Then – just follow the loop.
Chapter 2: The Greater Your Focus, the Lower Your Chances of Success
If you want to reach a goal, you shouldn’t focus on reaching it.
You should set it alright, but one of the worst mistakes you can do is keeping your goal in mind all the time; that’s discouraging.
And it has countereffects: it stimulates you to live much more in your dreamworld than in reality; and you need to do some work in your real life if you want to reach your goals while you’re alive.
So, once you set your goal, forget about it! This unleashes the power of feedback, which works sweet as a mediator in the self-reinforcing loop of Success → Motivation → More Success → More Motivation → More Success…
How does this work in practice?
Say that you want to earn a few more friends; set that goal and now forget about it for it will work against you.
Next, follow these simple seven steps:
1. Don’t talk a lot;
2. Don’t blame;
3. Don’t try to impress;
4. Don’t interrupt;
5. Don’t control;
6. Don’t preach; and
7. Don’t dwell on the past.
Chapter 3: Your Goal Must Always Choose Your Process
Once you know what your goal is, the process chooses itself:
Where your process is concerned, you don’t get to choose what you want to do. You get to choose your goal—but after that, what you want to do is irrelevant. What matters is what you need to do to achieve your goal. You can’t have dessert with every meal and lose weight.
How to create a successful process?
It’s easy – all you need to do is just follow these 8 steps:
1. Set your goal;
2. Set aside decision anxiety and choose a reasonably promising routine;
3. If necessary, customize your process to be extremely specific;
4. Rework your schedule;
5. Map out your daily plan;
6. Work the process;
7. Fix your schedule problems; and
8. Your results may vary, so adapt accordingly.
Sounds too theoretical?
Haden offers a sample plan, one which will help you lose ten pounds in thirty days:
1. Start with a fast day;
2. Exercise first thing every morning;
3. Eat four almonds fifteen minutes before every meal;
4. Drink a glass of water right before every meal;
5. Always stop eating the moment you start to feel full;
6. Don’t eat anything white;
7. Make sure every meal is healthy;
8. Toss in a snack;
9. Burn about five hundred extra calories a day;
10. Cheat wisely;
11. Keep a food journal;
12. Check off each step in the process.
Chapter 4: Happiness Comes to Serial Achievers
In the fourth chapter of his book, Haden teaches his readers how to choose an appropriate goal and why choosing the right one can transform you into a serial achiever.
And serial achievers are usually happy because happiness “requires evenly balancing your multiple nonnegotiable goals, blending in a negotiable goal where appropriate… and never, ever forgetting to self-evaluate along the way to ensure the balance never gets out of whack.”
That’s why the best goals are usually the ones which solve your current problems; and they all fit well within Maslow’s pyramid.
In other words, “if you are in financial straits or relatively poor physical condition, your goal must help you overcome that challenge.”
Everything else will make you unhappy; you can’t climb Mount Kilimanjaro if your physical condition doesn’t allow you to do that; you need to set another goal before that one: getting back into shape.
Chapter 4.5: Wishing and Hoping Is the Most Unrealistic Approach of All
Most of the books you’ve read about motivation and accomplishing your goals are Secret-like: just imagine your goal and the whole universe will work in your favor.
You don’t need Haden to tell you that this would never work.
For the simple reason that, if everyone does that, then how will everybody’s wish come true?
Chapter 5: To Gain Incredible Willpower… Need Less Willpower
Time for a few more plans: one which will help you have the most productive day ever, another the most productive week in your life, and a third one the most productive mindset ever.
And a fourth one to explain the title of the chapter.
The steps, you ask?
Here they are!
The Most Productive Day Ever (aka Extreme Productivity Day, EPD):
1. Let everyone know you won’t be available;
2. Decide how long you will work;
3. Totally commit to how long you decided to work;
4. Start your EPD at an unusual time;
5. Delay and space out your rewards;
6. Refuel before you think you need to refuel;
7. Take productive breaks, not relaxation breaks;
8. Take your breaks at a counterintuitive moment;
9. Don’t stop until you’re done—even if finishing takes longer than expected.
The Most Productive Week Ever
1. Every Sunday, map out your week;
2. Actively block out task time;
3. Follow a realistic to-do list;
4. Default to thirty-minute meetings;
5. Stop multitasking;
6. Obsess about leveraging ‘edge’ time;
7. Track your time;
8. Be thoughtful about lunch;
9. Protect your family time;
10. Start every day right.
The Most Productive Mind-Set Ever
1. Stop making excuses for doing less;
2. Stop letting disapproval, or even scorn, stand in your way;
3. Stop letting fear hold you back;
4. Stop waiting for inspiration;
5. Stop turning down the help you need;
6. Stop stopping.
How to Have Willpower… Without Needing Willpower
1. Eliminate as many choices as possible;
2. Make decisions tonight so you won’t need to make them tomorrow;
3. Do the hardest things you need to do first;
4. Refuel often;
5. Create reminders of your long-term goals;
6. Remove temptation altogether.
Chapter 5.5: One Question Provides Nearly Every Answer
In the second intermezzo of the book, Jeff Haden reminds us of the question Herb Kelleher, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, asks himself all the time and how it is related to his goal: “Will this help Southwest be the lowest-cost provider?”
Since Kelleher’s plan was to achieve exactly that, then this is the only question which matters.
Use it yourself, in the modified version that suits the goal you’ve chosen: “Will this help me reach my goal?”
If the answer is yes – then do it; if the answer is no – then don’t do it.
Chapter 6: Why Work Smarter When You Can Work Your Number?
With Morten Hansen’s seven “work smart” practices, you can achieve more with less of an effort.
Haden is not even interested in giving you that option: we learn through trial and error, and you need to be aware whenever you start doing something that there’s always the risk that you’ll fail.
However, the more you fail, the higher the chance that you’ll succeed.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t make, said once Wayne Gretzky.
Well, that’s one of the greatest lessons you’ll ever learn in your life.
Chapter 7: You Don’t Need a Coach; You Need a Pro
“Want to get great at something?” asked once Atul Gawande in a beautiful TED Talk. “Get a coach.”
Despite the title, Jeff Haden shares much the same opinion. What he doesn’t like – and doesn’t suggest you to get – are motivational coaches.
You need someone who is experienced in an area and who knows what you are doing; not someone whose only expertise is to brand motivation-practices which work for nobody.
Pick your pro/coach based on your goal; not based on the number of books he/she has sold or the number of people who say they’ve been motivated by him/her.
And once you do choose your pro – connect with him; sooner or later, you’ll start becoming him.
Chapter 8: Do More by Doing Less
Doing more doesn’t mean accepting everything that’s on the table; more often than not, it means saying “no;” that’s what’s hidden beneath the somewhat paradoxical title of this chapter.
Doing more is a process which starts with eliminating everything that you don’t need to do. Whether it’s a permission, report, or sign-off – one should do it.
Then “fire” one of your friends: Jim Rohn says that you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.
Next, move on to cutting one expense and dropping one personal commitment.
After you manage to streamline your lunch and do away with a full category of decisions, suddenly you’ll feel a lot freer.
Because – one plus one plus one… well, you get the point.
Chapter 9: The Bottom Line
Since this is the conclusion and what The Motivation Myth is all about, we’ll let Haden speak for himself here:
The bottom line is what ‘The Motivation Myth’ is all about: getting past the fluff and puff and fire walks and achieving the goals you want to achieve.
Like most bottom lines, this one is clean and simple.
Don’t tell me your goals. Don’t tell me your dreams.
Tell me your plan.
And don’t be afraid to dream big, because now you know how to plan big.
And never, ever forget that even the most successful people started out just like you.
Key Lessons from “The Motivation Myth”
1. Motivation Is Not a Spark – It’s a Result
2. The Feedback Loop
3. Becoming Feels Wonderful Because You’ve Earned It
Motivation Is Not a Spark – It’s a Result
They’ll tell you that you need to watch motivation videos to inspire yourself; they’ll tell you that it’s a nice idea to do something akin to walking on fire to tap into the potential you naturally have.
What they don’t tell you is that motivation is much more than a one-off event: it’s a result; it’s, even more, a stream of results; and success is a process.
You don’t get motivated because you’ve done something or heard something once; the next day you wake up feeling no different.
You get motivated because you do something continually.
And you do it well.
The Feedback Loop
Basically, motivation is not merely the prerequisite for success; it’s also its corollary; together, they form a self-reinforcing feedback loop which looks something like this: Success → Motivation → More Success → More Motivation → More Success…
The only thing you need to start?
And a small victory.
Becoming Feels Wonderful Because You’ve Earned It
“The one thing I truly loved about being a pro cyclist was the process,” once Lance Armstrong said to Jeff Haden. “Not the accolades, not the money, not the podium… I miss the process of getting to the point where you can stand on that top step.”
And then he went on: “I miss the hours spent alone and suffering and working to get to the point where I could win. I loved the process. I loved all the thinking, all the collaborating, all the planning and effort and working with great people. I feel like I got paid to do the races, meet sponsor obligations… That’s what they paid me for. I would have trained for free.
I don’t really miss the result. I miss the work.”
And that’s the main point of Haden’s book: becoming feels wonderful because you’ve earned it.
Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.
“The Motivation Myth Quotes”You can do—and be—so much more than you think. Click To Tweet Motivation isn’t the result of hearing a speech or watching a movie or crisping your soles. Motivation isn’t passive; motivation is active. Click To Tweet The best way to get motivated is to break a sweat, literally or symbolically. Click To Tweet The power of ‘I don’t’ extends to both your mindset and the impression you make on others. Click To Tweet Don’t tell me your goals. Don’t tell me your dreams. Tell me your plan. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
“Jeff Haden knows what many people don’t,” writes Adam Grant, the author of Originals, “that success is less about searching for motivation and more about muddling through until you achieve something motivating.”
The Motivation Myth will undoubtedly help you muddle through.
In a witty, engaging and practical manner.
Learn more and more, in the speed that the world demands.