How To Stop Failing At Self-Motivation: A Lesson From Whiplash

2 min read · 7 years ago


Over the past year people I know who love playing drums told me to watch Whiplash (the much acclaimed film about an ambitious young jazz drummer, in pursuit of rising to the top of his elite music conservatory). Yesterday night I finally got around to it – and indeed it was a great movie. The drumming solos are remarkable, but the movie is of course more about pursuing your passion, self-motivation, to be pushed to ‘out-do’ yourself, and finding the inner strength not to give up.

The core of the movie and its message comes down to the scene in which Fletcher (played by J.K. Simmons, who received an academy award for his role in the movie) shares his belief that there are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘Good Job’ to the pursuit of excellence.

Of course you can differ in your opinion in the way he bullies people to pursue excellence and get’s the best out of people. But the message for self-motivation, is so similar to to Larry Smith’s Ted Talk the Reason Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career. In it, he so beautifully articulates that:

The biggest enemy in our pursuit of excellence is ourself and our own failure to follow our passion, to accept that we have done a ‘good job’ and post-rationalize our ‘failure to become great’ on the people around us and/or things that life have thrown at us.

Some of us are lucky enough to have this deeply ingrained passion for a particular thing early on in life and are very clear what to pursue. Other stumble onto it and get passionate for what they do. Whatever it is for you, I think you owe it to yourself to at least have a go at it, pursue something that you are passionate about, become the best in the world and making a decent living out of it.

So have a hard look at yourself and ask yourself two questions:

  1. Are you happy with what you are doing right now?
  2. What are you doing to push your own boundaries?

I have set myself a reminder in my iPhone and ask myself these two questions every month. Often it propels me into self-motivation and push myself harder. I promise you it’s not always easy. Pushing myself to pursue my passion and what I’m good in often means that I’m travelling the world and can’t be with my most favorite people in the world (my family).

This can put a tremendous strain on your relations and as a consequence your ability to focus on what you are pursuing. You must ask yourself if it’s worth it. Sometimes the answer is no, but you know that you can’t be great if the answer is no too many times.

Good luck in pushing yourself to greatness!

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: How To Stop Failing At Self-Motivation: A Lesson From Whiplash

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