Finding Your Great Motivating Desire by Earl Nightingale

The key that unlocks energy is desire. It’s also the key to a long and interesting life. If we expect to create any drive, any real force within ourselves, we have to get excited. 

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Did you ever wonder where those human dynamos, those people who can pack as much work into one day as most of us do in two, get all the energy and drive that makes them go? Well, the source of drive and energy in human beings is known. It’s the personal excitement that comes from a great motivating desire. 

If you ask most people why they get out of bed in the morning and slug away all day on the job, they’ll probably have to think about it awhile before coming up with an answer. When they do, it’s usually along the line of “Oh, to pay the rent” or “To put food on the table.” Answers like these aren’t exciting. I belong to the group that thinks life is far too short to be dull. Shelter and food are things we need, but unless we’re living out in the street or starving to death, we’re not up to getting too excited about a place to sleep or something to eat. 

Those who have no exciting reason for getting out of bed in the morning may be fine people, but they never seem to accomplish anything out of the ordinary, and they miss a lot of fun and a lot of rewards that they could be enjoying. They haven’t got the drive to become outstanding because they don’t have a great motivating desire. 

The key that unlocks energy is desire. It’s also the key to a long and interesting life. If we expect a person to do something we want him to do, we have to get him excited. And if we expect to create any drive, any real force within ourselves, we have to get excited. We have to decide on something we desire very much—a goal that fires our imagination with a mental picture of having something, doing something, or being something. 

In a company I once surveyed, one of the men had won the admiration of all the others. I noticed that he had thorough knowledge of his company, its products, its markets, and its competitors. He took pains to understand his customers and their problems. These things, along with an easy manner and a good personality, marked him as an outstanding employee. We asked him about all this, and he said, “When I came to this company a few years back, I decided to shoot for a manager’s job in one of our districts. I’m doing everything I can to be the kind of man who would have that job.”  

Well, that explained it. In his mind, he was already running his own district. The rest of him was merely carrying out the motions that would soon propel him into the job he wanted. Meanwhile, he was enjoying himself tremendously. The mental image of being a district manager so appealed to him that he found all the enthusiasm, energy, and drive he was going to need to achieve that position. Everything he said and did in his current job had to conform to the image he held in his mind. He was outstanding because nothing less than his best would fit with the goal he’d picked out. 

Of course he’ll get that district manager job and all that goes with it. People with unusual drive and energy, people who excel, are the ones who have given themselves a mental picture, a goal to work toward. And the amount of drive they possess will always be in exact proportion to the strength and desire to make that mental picture a reality, to reach that goal. 

We don’t have to worry about setting a goal we can never reach; that’s the strange and wonderful thing about humans, something that most people seem to miss. We never seriously desire anything we can’t possibly have. If you get all fired up over something, whether it’s an executive position in your company or the income you feel you and your family need to do and have the things you want, if you can clearly envision how it will feel to satisfy your desire, well, then it can be yours. 

Arnold Bennett wrote that the kind of desire that triggers drive and energy within us isn’t some vague hankering, some undefined wish. The productive kind of desire is real, it’s concrete, it’s a mental picture that will never leave us alone. It’s always there in front of our minds, prodding and poking, goading us on. It’s an obsession, a whip. It has no mercy, and we’ll never be satisfied until we’ve achieved that which we truly desire. 

Well, how about you? What’s your goal? What is it that gets you fired up every time you think about it? If you have such a goal, you’ll never have to worry about the drive and energy you’ll need to achieve it. But if you find that you lack drive, that you’re short on energy, give it some thought. Decide on the dream that’s more important to you than any other. Then begin to make that dream a reality. You can—and you’ll find that you’ve got all the drive you need and all the energy you want. 

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This is an excerpt from Earl Nightingale’s Your Success Starts Here: Purpose and Personal Initiative, now available from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-a-Million800-CEO-READ, and other fine retailers. This volume contains Nightingale’s most potent messages about finding your purpose and taking the steps to better your life and relationships and achieve professional and financial success. It is never too late to give your life meaningful direction—pick up your copy of Your Success Starts Here today!