In 1924, everyone told Soichiro Honda his new piston ring design was crazy. Still, he invested his life savings, pawned his wife’s jewelry and slept in the workshop to make his vision real. After numerous rejections, everyone wanted his product. But in 1944, U.S. bomber planes destroyed his factory. The following year an earthquake leveled his second factory.
At this point, any sane individual would quit.
Honda persisted, and in 2016, the Honda Motor Corp. posted profits of $2.86 billion. Only an insatiable hunger to achieve his lifelong goal could have carried Honda through those dark times.
All successful leaders share this hunger and so can you. Here’s how.
Related: How to Access the Power of Ambition
1. Take 10 quiet minutes every day to ask, Why do I want it?
No amount of education, experience or connections will carry you through life’s inevitable setbacks. Without a powerful motive, no goal can withstand misfortune. You can create motive by taking time every day to visualize your goal in detail.
“You’ve got to have some vision, some idea of what the future could look like,” says social scientist and executive coach Dr. Frank Niles. “You need a North Star to keep working toward.”
Niles explains that using visualization helps us experience both the goal’s outcome and the processes required to get there, and this boosts our motivation to achieve that goal.
Visualization can be as simple as creating a mental image of a future event. If your North Star is to build a business that generates $10,000 in monthly income, spend time imagining all of your whys: three vacations a year, a new car and provide your children with a quality education.
2. Spend time with people who have what you want.
Want to succeed as an international public speaker? Go spend time with one. When you see him or her full of passion, in the middle of a speech, receiving thunderous applause or a big paycheck, you’ll have a taste of what you can have if you put in the time to achieve your own goal.
Jim Rohn famously said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” The attitudes, beliefs and yes, desires of these people become our own.
Anthony Iannarino, best-selling author of The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, says that when you spend time with successful people, “You start to become conscious of what you believe and how it limits you…. You gain the advantage of transforming faster by finding people whose beliefs you can model.”
Spend enough time with a stock trader and you’ll hunger to make profitable financial investments.
3. Burn the boats.
According to legend, Alexander the Great landed his invasion force on the shores of Persia then ordered his ships burned. “We go home in Persian ships or we die,” he said.
History is littered with examples of leaders giving the same order in the face of overwhelming odds. The tactic is discussed in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and in China, “Fighting with one’s back to the river” is a popular saying, a reference to going all in.
Raising the stakes will increase your likelihood of success and make retreat impossible.
The Latin root of the word “decision” is literally “to cut off,” to eliminate any other course of action. “Burning the boats” is not a decision to be made lightly, whether it involves quitting a job, killing a product line or investing your nest egg. But when you’re faced with a choice between victory and certain defeat, you’ll be ravenous for success.
4. Move your body.
When your physiology changes, so does your mind. Thirty minutes of light activity gives you more energy by increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your cells. Without energy, you can have no drive. Think about how you feel after Thanksgiving dinner or on New Year’s Day. In those low-energy states, I’m guessing you have little motivation to work on your side business.
Forget sports drinks or even (don’t shoot me) coffee. Studies show that physical activity can be better for productivity, and when we produce, we get a motivational boost, setting off a positive cycle. What’s more, exercise can curb anxiety and depression, which rob us of hunger.
You don’t need to hit the gym every time your motivation drops. Even simple practices can radically improve your drive. What I learned from attending a weekend seminar with Tony Robbins last month is that even getting out of your chair can boost your energy.
5. Make inaction incredibly painful.
Humans are pain-avoiding creatures, so if we can make the thought of falling short of our goal bitterly distasteful, our subconscious will get busy conjuring the motivation we need.
There are some basic maneuvers to motivate you: Donate to the “other” political party when you procrastinate. Or make your goal public and let the humiliation of not following through be the “stick” that keeps one foot in front of the other. (Stickk lets you create “commitment contracts.”)
A more advanced technique is the “swish pattern” from Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Life coach Steve Stutz explains:
- Visualize yourself performing the bad habit (procrastinating on your goal, for example).
- Visualize a replacement habit.
- See yourself pushing the image of the bad habit away while you perform the new habit.
- Put yourself in a positive state and imagine beginning to procrastinate, then snap your fingers and stop the behavior.
- Once again, visualize the new habit.
- Repeat the process until the new habit becomes your reality.
If you’re successful, even the thought of going back to the old way will feel awful.
Physical hunger grows automatically, but your appetite for success won’t. Motivation, like bathing, is best practiced daily.
Make time in your day to practice, and in a short time you’ll be starving to take a bite out of any goal you can dream up.