Which Came First, the Successful Chicken, or the Motivated Egg?

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...thoughts from Nigel Job after a fascinating discussion with Jeff Haden, author of “The Motivation Myth”.


Have you ever found it difficult to get started on something? Is procrastination one thing that you never seem to be able to put off (that’s a joke by the way!)? Are you perpetually waiting for that lightbulb moment, bolt of lightening or even the voice of the Almighty to set you on your way to high levels of success and brilliance, but it never seems to happen to you?

If the answer to any of these questions is, on occasion, yes, then help is at hand. Not in the form of a product that was not invented by Edison; nor anything meteorological; and definitely not a booming voice that sounds like Charlton Heston that only you can hear. The help you need (in fact MOST of us need) is contained in a book called The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff the other day through the medium of Skype.( Skype and other media like it, still fascinate me; the ability for me to speak to Jeff in Virginia  while I sit in my office in Cambridge England, and chat as though we are in the same room is one of the great innovations of our times).

My reason for the interview was two-fold; one because I really enjoyed his book and thought it a good topic for an article, and two because the sub-title of his book is “How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win”. My own interest, as some of you know, is in #HighPerformanceTalent . I have spent a large part of my career figuring what makes high performers identifiable for organisations to attract to their ranks. The high performers I have always studied have been high performance or high potentials in the business sense. The people Jeff has studied have been in many senses “Mega-performers”; celebrities, sports stars, and genuine rock-stars. What can the rest of us mere mortals learn from those that probably have the phone number, maybe not of God, but at least of Charlton Heston? 

Now I probably spent too much time asking him about rock guitarists (he has actually interviewed Joe Satriani and Kirk Hammett for goodness sake!), but the generous amount of time he gave me enabled me to uncover some really interesting insights that reinforced my understanding of his book.

The inspiration for the thinking behind the book it transpired, was originally a result of a conversation he had with Venus Williams. The principle idea is that ”success” does not come from motivation, but that in fact, motivation comes from success. In other words, you become motivated as a result of the successes that you achieve. The endorphins that are released each time we have even a very small success encourage us to do more. Jeff’s and my mutual fascination with musicians illustrates this. If you learn a chord on a guitar and the next time the first few chords of a song then you are making progress and the pleasure you get from this encourages you to do more. If you really desire to master the instrument, you will keep ensuring your put in the hours to make those footprints on the way to success.

What, then, sets apart the mega-performer? According to Jeff, the really interesting thing is that they are really not that different to all of the other folk on the planet. They are all just people, but they are people that work hard and have normally found or created a process that makes them feel good about working hard. This process gives them a series of successes that keeps them on track on something that they are passionate about. In Jeff’s own case, he transitioned from being in manufacturing to being a writer. He evolved a process that enabled this. Essentially though, he says he is someone that is a “big believer in grinding away”. The message, then perhaps, is this; find something you are passionate about, put in place a really good process to follow to get lots of motivating successes, and be prepared to grind away to make the progress!

Finally I asked Jeff what advice he would have for those that suffer from procrastination. His answer was to “break a sweat”. Commit to do something for 5 minutes to break the barrier. In that 5 minute session you will get something that helps it start to roll.

If you would like to learn more, don’t put off ordering a copy of his book “The Motivation Myth”. I have no hesitation in recommending it.


I will be shortly publishing my own book, “Hiring the Ultimate Salesperson”. This is how to use 7 characteristics of High Performance Talent to attract and hire the very best sales people. If you have an interest in this area, please drop me a line nigel.job@remtecsearch.com or book in for a chat here

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