Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.

Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.
It knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle
when the sun comes up you’d better be running.

When it comes to action, most people complain that they lack sufficient motivation.  I’d start losing weight, getting some exercise, stop smoking or start engaging in smalltalk if I had sufficient motivation.   What is motivation, and how do I get it?

Motivation is the driving force by which we achieve our goals. According to Wikipedia, the term is generally used for humans but it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behaviour as well. According to various theories, motivation may be rooted in a basic need to minimise physical pain and maximise pleasure, or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, or a desired object, goal, state of being, ideal, or it may be attributed to less-apparent reasons such as altruism, selfishness, morality, or avoiding mortality.  Although not an emotion, motivation is certainly related to emotion.

Putting on a happy face

It is interesting that mimicking an emotion can sometimes invoke emotion.  If you smile and look up, apparently it makes all the difference.  Interestingly a recent experiment indicated that people who have had botox injections tend to be happier because they’re unable to frown!  The article states “When humans mimic others’ faces, in other words, we don’t just go through the motions. We also go through the emotions.”.  Could this be the case with emotion?

Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner seems to think so when he says “You’re more likely to act youself into feeling than feel yourself into action.”


One definition of the word “motivation” is the “desire to do”.  This is similar to the definition of a similar word, “momentum”, which is “the force of speed or movement”.  

Most ships start moving slowly, but once they start moving they’re hard to stop.Movement starts small, but by starting, the movement gets bigger, and as it gets bigger, momentum increases.  If it was like that for Facebook and Google, it can be like that for you too.


Handel the composer, at the age of 56, was on the verge of bankruptcy, his health was failing (paralysed down one side from a stroke) and discouraged from fierce competition and fickle audiences.

But in August of 1741, a friend named Charles Jennings gave him a libretto based on the life of Christ.  This work intrigued him, enough to stir him to action.  He began writing.  The cycle of inactivity was broken and he wrote almost non-stop.  In 24 days he had completed the 260 page manuscript.  He called the piece Messiah.

His biographer said of Messiah, “Considering the immensity of the work, the short time involved, it will remain, perhaps forever. the greatest feat in the whole history of music composition.”

So powerful motivation can result in momentum.  Small motivation may be achieved via “just doing it”.  So, whatever it is you should do, do it!   The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get there!


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