You will need a lot of drive and energy to get from your current position to where you want to be. Most of that must come from within from intrinsic motivation that comes from well-defined values and motives.

We need to understand why we act the way we do; otherwise, we won’t know why we keep getting in our own way, or how to get out of our way when it counts.

Some time ago, during the apartheid era in South Africa, I was troubled by the violence and conflict in that country and wanted to make a difference in the thinking of a critical mass of people, including many leaders, both black and white.

I knew that I wasn’t going to do much good in South Africa by sitting in Seattle. I had to take some action. But that action in addition to being difficult and expensive would largely be unwanted, unappreciated, and misunderstood. I knew that others would challenge the vision and question my motives.

As you may recall, at the time, several states would not do business with you if you did business with South Africa. So some people in my company told me, “You’ll cost us our careers; you’ll cost us our money; you’ll cost us our future.”

I said, “Then you’d better get another job, because I’m going. It’s the right thing to do.”

Sure, it cost us a few dollars. We lost some contracts because of it, but we weren’t going there to make money. We were going there to improve the environment, to give people hope, and to provide them with life-changing tools. I trusted that if we went in with the right motives, we would eventually gain, even if we incurred significant near-term losses.

Make Sure Your Motives are Right

Why do you want to be, do, or have what you want? Why do you want to get there? How unselfish are your motives?

I want you to get to the point in maturity where you do this unselfishly, where you give with no ulterior motive at all, where you are primarily interested in helping people around you because that’s the greatest sense of reward that you can find.

You make it happen simply because it’s the right thing to do, not to impress anyone, not because you want something from it. Your intent is unselfish. You’re motivated by love and justice.

You can get yourself to that point. Sometimes I’m there, and other times I’m not. It isn’t like once you’re there, you’re there forever. But when you get to that point, you’ll find a great sense of fulfillment and purpose in your life. Coming up with your own “why” will give you courage to act. Perhaps it isn’t an act of courageit’s just the right thing to do.

how to get inspired

Acts of courage can come at all ages and stages of life; often little kids can show acts of moral courage because their motives are relatively pure and they have such great faith in the unseen.

Making sure your reasons or motives are right will help you develop your courage and give you the power of purpose to get from where you are, here, to there. But you’ve got to determine the why.

I want you to act with the right heart and the right spirit of intent. You’ll want to, too, when you find out why. You’ll want to because it will give you more strength, more depth, more satisfaction. It does you no good to gain wealth or to accumulate power if inside you know you’re covering up a lie, if inside you’re not proud of yourself.

I want you to be proud of yourself. I want you to feel that you are a great person and that you live a great life. I want you to feel happy with yourself. My purpose is to get you to achieve what you want to achieve, and to be proud of yourself in doing it. And I don’t want anything for it. I don’t want the acclaim or the applause. The only reason I would use the acclaim or applause or allow myself to be admired, is so I could take on another project or problem in the community. Otherwise, I don’t want it.

Recently I returned home from a trip to Australia. I was bone-tired, but I was scheduled to fly out that same evening to London.

Now, if I looked at flying to London at midnight, losing a night’s sleep, teaching, and getting on an airplane and flying home as, ”I have to go to London,” would I do a good job?

No, and so I think, “I don’t have to go; I choose to go. I see the benefits of going.” I must talk tough to myself, or I start whimpering and crying and feeling like a victim: “Ain’t it awful.”

I tell myself, “Well, then, don’t go.”

“But, I want to go. I can benefit people and create business.”

“Okay, then, shut up and go.”

That is how I try to talk to myself. But then one of my associates asked me that day, “Lou, why are you flying to London when you just returned from Australia? Is it the money?”

“No,” I said, “I choose to work not for money, but for a mission for what we can do to improve the quality of life for people and organizations.”

Don’t give me that crap,” said my friend. “We all work for money.”

“Yes, we must all make some money to meet our needs and to satisfy some wants, but making money isn’t all that I want.”

“But why work so hard when you don’t have to?”

“I want to,” I said. “I choose to work with people where they are and help them get where they want to go. That’s my mission.”

I explained that that’s why I work with militant atheists, hardened agnostics, disillusioned leaders, and convicted criminals. When I first talk to people who have spent 20 years inside a prison, I don’t talk to them about ideals. I ask them, “How would you like to get out and stay out? How would you like to live without somebody chasing you? How would you like to fall in love?”

I try to get them to fall deeply in love with somebody or some cause and then they have a reason to stay out. And once they have a reason to stay out, their choices are different. Then they say, “Well, what else could I do?” And I say, “Why don’t you try this, why don’t you try that.” Before long these people are doing spectacular things and turning their lives around.