Own My Growth

Helping folks with practical tips to manage themselves better

Is Your Motivation Real


A boy goes to a wise man and asks him to share the secret of success.

“Meet me tomorrow morning by the lake, and I will share the secret of success with you.”

Early next morning, as planned, the young fellow meets the wise master at the lakeside. Holding the boy’s hand, the master leads him into the lake to a point where the water is waist-high. Then, suddenly, without any warning, the master holds the boy’s neck and dunks him into the water.

The boy thrashes about and tries to pull his head out of the water, but to no avail. The wise man is much too strong for him, and he continues to hold his head underwater.

Eventually, after what seems like an eternity, the wise man releases his grip, and the boy pulls his head up, gasping for air.

” Hey, what were you trying to do?” Shaken and upset, the boy demands an explanation from the wise man.

“I am sorry to have caught you by surprise like this. I could not think of a better way to help you with the answer to your question. What were you fighting for when I pushed your head underwater?” The wise man asks.

” Air,” replies the youngster.

“Nice. There is your answer to the question on the secret of success. When you desire success as desperately as you desired air when your head was underwater, you will achieve it. It’s that simple.”

Whenever I have a conversation with someone looking at taking on a new challenge, career change, or job change, I share this story to help them clarify their underlying motivation and intent.  

Taking my example: For a long time, I was both admiring and envious of a lot of friends of mine who are avid marathoners. Like them, I too wanted to do a marathon. 

I made a couple of aborted attempts at preparing to run at least a half marathon. Nothing came of it.

Why? Because I was in awe of completing the marathon without really having the commitment or motivation to go through the process and pain or running a marathon. My desire was shallow. I was never really serious about it. If I were, I would have committed myself to this challenge entirely.

Skill, planning, process, practice, all these come later. 

The start point for achievement of any sort is desire and motivation. Therefore, when embarking on any activity, it is good to clarify the motive.

“Is the achievement I seek just a fad, or is it the real deal?”

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