Motivation is Bad

Photo by Juan Di Nella on Unsplash

I, like most people have watched and enjoyed motivational speeches on social media and real life. This is nothing new to you as well. Perhaps you came across my article title and felt something deep within. It could perhaps be a confirmation bias or perhaps feeling of being attacked.

The issue with most people is not that there’s a lack of motivation to do anything, its the other way around. We have our lives filled with too many mundane things in life we don’t focus well onto the things that bring about real productivity.

Prior to social media, prior to any motivational gurus. There was a time when I used to prototype ideas for crafty things in a little book. That book remained untouched since 9th grade. That’s the year facebook became popular where I used to live. Like any teenager I ended up signing up for it, It was the hip thing. Suddenly farming fake potatoes on Facebook and selling them to friends online became a thing. It was an endless pit of mundane entertainment.

This is not by accident or that teenagers are inherently stupid. It is by design, imagine a hypothetical situation where you convince people to consume a little bit of something for a randomized chance at getting something in return. Given how close we are to the primitive humans in the journey of evolution we’d always take it. If this was untrue then lotteries and ponzi schemes wouldn’t exist.

Now with that said, I’d like to put motivational speeches to the same bracket as mental lotto scheme. To elaborate this I’ll bring in an example from my work life. I used to work for a partner company for a much bigger company. The mother company would host quarterly meetings for its partner companies. I happened to be busy on one such event and couldn’t attend it, but I got a glimpse of the itinerary. Once all the sales and numbers are settled the last item due was some form of a speech with a new age bullshit title.

Once the event was done the next week morning I’d have my coworkers come in and tell me that I had missed a great deal of “Knawledge” (purposeful misspelling) by missing that event. Then I asked what was it that I missed, they couldn’t give me an answer properly. Just said “its hard to explain bro, but it was mind blowing”. Then I proceeded to ask him about the important details, “how was the mother company’s regional sales?”. The answer I got was that its really good.

Being inquisitive I looked up the figures. All publicly traded companies should submit copies of the data to SEC of their respective countries. A live stream of the event was also available on the web. At best the figures were not that great, but average. In some cases you could say underwhelming for a big company. The speech at the end however has nothing to do with the company but a whole lot of motivational talking and people’s ego pleasing. This talk pretty much override the important elements of the events of the day.

Motivational Speeches achieve nothing and provides a false sense of getting work done. Not only that, this implants a false narrative that the speaker is all good messiah figure in the attendee’s mind. But the truth is that person was paid to make a speech to that audience. We could spend hours talking merits and demerits of motivational speaking. But that day itself nothing of value was added. No real path for improvement provided. No changes to the workflow was provided. A motivational speech and management dusted the hands, with their fingers crossed hoping for a miracle that divine deity would provide the attendees with the wisdom to make more sales.

Why would a company chose to give kool-aid instead of real solutions?

  1. My experience tells me that when a company is reluctant to hire better talent and wants to keep everyone onboard they do this sort of thing. Stay with us and we’ll give you more dopamine every quarterly review.
  2. Change is hard, sometime needs more resources. More resources aren’t cheap. As companies get bigger they don’t like to spend more or give better value.
  3. This third ones a big one. Bad planning from the get go, which they want you to forget all about it. When companies pitch products or plans to customers they give a timeline first and then plan within that. For example the customer is told we will deliver in 10 days. Since the work being done fits within that window. Oh how wrong. Despite having access to the state-of-the-art products to do project planning the management seems to forget that employees only work 8hours a day, by law. Any additional time is compensated as overtime. The typical flow in this scenario is, the management accepts the work, not enough employees to do the work, management guilt trips employees to put more hours in (often unpaid), somehow deliver underwhelming product that is unrepeatable. When quarterly meeting comes in hire someone to do motivational speech so they’ll forget their pain and keep working at the same place. [This segment will need a whole other article]

This is not just limited to corporation talks

Workouts, Music, Dancing, Learning a Language, Dieting, Personal Projects. There are motivational gurus for every segment in life. Let it be motivation coaches on instagram, or facebook. The list is endless. Even Ted Talks are now just random speakers just wasting time telling people things which they could have asked their grandmothers. None of them will provide a real clear path on to getting things done, or even how they managed to get things done. There are some gems that’d still recommend to some people.

What I learnt from a Xiaolin Monk

A root cause analysis into what causes us to lose motivation is more important. Like this talk by Xiaolin Master Shi Heng Yi on 5 hindrances to self-mastery one gem I came across YouTube was very helpful, it helped me in correctly framing my understanding of the idea of getting things done.

Its a Xiaolin way of self improvement through understanding 5 things about yourself. Not all of these will affect you, and for some of you none of these will have an effect.

  1. Sensual Desires
  2. Ill will / Aversion
  3. Dullness / Heaviness
  4. Restlessness
  5. Doubt

Understanding what affects you the most will help you overcome that and do more for yourself than watching a motivational talk.

The key point here is doing something in exchange for a hit of dopamine would not be very productive and counter intuitive. Where as if you were to build up your habits bit by bit it becomes a routine, a part of your life. This way you are less reliant on motivation.

Example

What you want to do might be to Go To Gym, but going to gym is pointless if you drink and binge eat (Sensual Desires). If you’d rather go to McD’s than the Gym you won’t achieve it (Aversion). Your body naturally like to remain in a low energy state to preserve energy. This is a survival tactic during times when food was scarce (Dullness) it will take lot of time and training to overcome this. Browsing other people working out on instagram might tire you out easily than doing the exercises yourself, you might endlessly scroll the web looking for that perfect workout without having done anything (Restlessness) . The real killer is the doubt, if you doubt that you can lose weight you will never lose weight. I’d suggest start by getting rid of the doubt, lose 1kg first just clean eating to prove yourself that doubt is only in your imagination.

If you’re more into business and want to get into reading books a great starter book I read on doing business was “The Narrow Path - by Felix Dennis” this is no motivation no bs book, some textbook millennial tropes might find it hard to stomache (you’ve been trigger warned). Its more of a mediation of thoughts on how he approached certain problems when doing business.

What I’ve done for my writing

My writing is my current hobby, I am guilty of having an aversion to writing only on paper and avoiding my laptop altogether. So there are lot more articles that ended up on paper than on the blog. I managed to keep writing since 2018. To stay motivated I got rid of financial incentives altogether. I only write when I want to, when there’s a worth while topic that I like to talk about. I gain No financial reward or pressure to write. So I only write things which I believe would help you the reader do better. Therefore motivation is not necessary for me to continue writing.

Future Plans

I am planning on integrating a comment system to the current blogging system I have, this is not hosted on popular sites. Your suggestions are welcome.

If you like to support me

I don’t blog for a living, this site isn’t monetized, I don’t sell your data to corporations every time you visit this site. Only analytic I use is a view counter from google, its the only one worked with my custom site. If you wish to contribute to my writing you can do directly through Brave Browser. It has a built in easy to use crypto currency mechanism that you can use to make contributions anonymously. As I’d like to remain independent and to keep my writing unbiased I don’t accept paypal.

Regardless you should switch to more privacy centric browser even if you don’t have anything to hide.