Advice & Help

Motivation: The Fires Burning Within

Even with close-up shots, it is impossible to see the boiling cauldron of intensity that exists at the bobsled start. The steely resolve etched on the athletes’ faces and hidden behind their helmets foretells the tremendous power that only becomes apparent when they push the 650 pound sled with a little help from gravity and without the use of any mechanical motor, accelerating from zero to speeds in excess of 80 mph in less than 15 seconds. Only by using this smoldering fire of emotion welled up inside can they accomplish such a feat. Although the sled is heavy and the journey down the icy chute treacherous, the burning desire to perform at their very best easily provides the motivation they need to act in such a forceful and decisive way. The actions of the athletes on a bobsled run, or in any other sport for that matter, demonstrate that if you set out to achieve significant goals and you want it badly enough, you will eventually get it. If you have this same hot fire burning within, this same unrivaled motivational force, it will help you to overcome the negative inertia in your life, get past the obstacles and fears that impede you, and thrust you resolutely towards your goals.

Motivation is internal combustion
The study of human motivation is one of the most complex areas of social science. Motivation–‘motive in action’ –is, according to noted author of Think Like A Winner, Dr. Walter Staples, the “personification of a goal being strived for, the pursuit of something deemed desirable and worthwhile.” Some seem to think that motivation is derived from the “carrot and stick” philosophy. In other words, people only act because of external forces which promise rewards or punishments for their actions. While the carrot and the stick provide motive for action, such methods prove to have only a temporary effect. REAL motivation comes from within. It flows naturally from having a dream. Human beings are naturally motivated by challenging goals and dreams.

Motivation is red hot desire
The intensity of the competition, the electric energy of the crowds and the love of country all serve as fuel for the athlete, propelling him/her in the pursuit of personal goals. High achievers are fiercely ambitious and this creates a burning desire–“burning fuel in the furnace of achievement”– which compels them to achieve.

Here is one of my favorite stories from the life of Socrates: The great ancient Greek philosopher could often be found in the Athenian market place dispersing his seeds of wisdom. After one of his lessons, a young man approached him and asked how he could get wisdom. Socrates invited the young man over to a nearby lake where they waded into about four feet of water. Without warning Socrates grabbed the young man’s head and plunged it under the water. At first he didn’t resist, thinking that it was some kind of test. However, as Socrates continued to hold him under, he began to struggle and desperately tried to free himself. Although small in stature, Socrates was very strong and continued to hold the young fellow underwater while he panicked and struggled and gasped for air. Finally, Socrates released him and said “When you desire wisdom with the same intensity that you desired to breathe, then nothing can stop you from getting it.” The same is true with your goals: If your desire is intense enough, nothing can stop you.

Motivation is the compelling reason
Motivation isn’t just a feel-good sensation, but a driving force which compels you to act and provides the energy you need to do the work it takes to attain a goal. This driving force to achieve your goals is propelled by one word-WHY? Why are your goals important to you? Why do you want to achieve them? The reasons differ for everyone, but could range from economic incentives to a desire for recognition to self-development, to name just a few.

Noted German Philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm once wrote, “A man can bear any What if he has a big enough Why.” When you have a big enough reason for achieving your goals, you develop an intensity of purpose that dwarfs the obstacles and challenges in your way. If your reasons WHY are big enough, they become uplifting and inspiring and drive you onward. If your reasons are big enough and your belief solid enough your success is virtually guaranteed.

Keep on Pushing!

About the author

Devon Harris

Devon Harris was a member of the Jamaican Bobsleigh team and competed in three Winter Olympics; he later joined the army and attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. Born on Christmas Day, 1964 and raised in a violent ghetto environment in Kingston, Jamaica, the greatest gift Devon Harris ever received was the belief that a positive attitude and a never say die philosophy would carry him farther than a sense of injustice and a heart filled with anger.A graduate of the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England, Devon received a Queen’s Commission in December 1985 and served in the officer corps of the Jamaica Defence Force until December 1992 when he retired as a Captain.At the heart of Devon’s message are the lessons he has learned of the power of persistence over all sorts of obstacles in order to live one's best life. His mission is to bring this message of how everyone can keep on pushing and working for their dreams every day of their professional as well as personal lives.Encouraged by his commanding officer, Devon tried out for and was selected to the first Jamaican bobsled team which competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Their exploits inspired the Disney blockbuster movie Cool Runnings. Devon also competed in and was captain of the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France and the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.The Keep On Pushing Foundation which he founded in 2006 aims to support and enhance the education of kids in disadvantaged communities around the globe by providing practical solutions to the challenges that are preventing them from getting educated.Through the Keep on Pushing Foundation, Devon also works with Right to Play as an athlete ambassador, supporting Right to Play’s efforts in using sports and play in refugee camps around the world to enhance child development and build community capacity.As an ex-serviceman, Devon understands the commitment, sense of duty and sacrifices made by those who volunteer to serve. As a private citizen he is cognizant of the fact that the freedoms he enjoys are paid for by the courage and sacrifice of these men and women. As a result he has also devoted time to visit the troops serving in the Persian Gulf.He is the author of the motivational children’s book, Yes, I Can! and the semi-auto-biographical motivational book Keep On Pushing: Hot Lesson From Cool Runnings.