Motivation – A Blessing and A Curse

Some friends and I were out for dinner when the conversation turned to the subject of teenagers. “I can’t believe how unmotivated this younger generation is,” one friend remarked. “They don’t want to work. They don’t want to drive. They don’t want to do anything.” Another person chimed in, “I’ve been mentoring a young guy who dropped out of school and quit his job. He sits at home all day and plays video games. What a waste of potential. I think I’m more motivated about his success than he is.” 


As I listened to their laments, it dawned on me—motivation can be both a blessing and a curse.  Let me explain.


Ambition is key to success. Ambitious people set goals and create plans to accomplish those goals. They recognize the importance of engaging a coach who helps them stay focused and accountable. The key is that the motivated person is the one who is setting and achieving his own goals. Motivation, in this case, is a blessing.


The curse is when we become more excited about someone else’s follow-through than they are. It’s almost as if we can’t help it. Our motivation gets the best of us and tries to connect with the best in the other person. Instead, there’s a major disconnect. We see potential in a person and eagerly design a strategy with goals that, when met, will result in their success. What’s missing? The other person’s passion. Yet in an act of good-will, we pick them up and carry them on our back to the goal line. By the time we reach the end, we’re exhausted but they’re energized because they merely went along for the ride. Case in point—my friend who discovered he was more passionate about his mentee’s success than the young man was.


Other signs that a person lacks motivation


  •  When there is little or no movement on his part toward change.
  • When there is resistance to positive change that would lead to independence
  • When it is obvious that a repeated cycle has become the person’s comfort zone.


If this rings a bell of recognition, don’t despair. Simply exit from the draining relationship and find someone whose motivation for life will connect with your passion to see him succeed. Keep looking. I’m sure they’re out there somewhere.