Last Updated on January 15, 2021

Top 10 Motivation Tips Learned From Highly Successful People

Top 10 Motivation Tips Learned From Highly Successful People

To achieve your dreams, you need discipline, tenacity, courage, and a strong vision. You have to put in years of hard work. But aside from these, you also have to be highly motivated. Without motivation, you’ll suffer from procrastination or burnout. You’ll lose interest in that dream that you swore you’d turn into a reality.

All of us need that strong motivation that continues to drive us forward—even when we feel like giving up. These 10 motivation tips from highly successful people will help keep you moving forward so you can achieve your dreams.

1. Dream Big

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” —Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

My very first motivation tip for everyone is to dream big. To really stay motivated, you have to set your sights high. Some of the most successful people in the world did things that many people thought were impossible.

Most people thought the Wright brothers were crazy when they said they were going to figure out a way for people to fly. Many people believed that automobiles would never become a good form of transportation.

Dream big. If you play small, you’ll get small returns. Motivational speaker Les Brown said,

“It’s better to aim high and miss than aim low and hit.”

Creating small dreams and goals will stop you from doing great things. It will make you think you’re actually doing something significant when you’re not. So, always aim high.

2. Stay Curious

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” —Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant cosmologists of our time, was able to unravel the mysteries of the universe because he was curious. His deep curiosity of theoretical physics, black holes, and singularities led to many theories and broadened our understanding of space, time, and the universe.

Always be curious when you’re working toward your goals. Do your research. Be curious about new apps and technologies that will make your job easier. And be curious about your own beliefs, assumptions, and ideas. Always question the way you’re doing things. Is there a better way? Are you doing things for the right reasons?


Even when you think you’re on the right track, ask other people to play devil’s advocate with you so they can use their curiosity to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

3. Surround Yourself With Great People

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” —Jim Rohn

The people we surround ourselves with have a big impact on our lives and our personal development. This might be one of the most overlooked motivation tips because people often only look at themselves but not their environment.

Have you ever been around a negative person and walked away feeling negative and cynical? Have you been around someone positive and felt happier the rest of the day?

Avoid negative people. Surround yourself with like-minded, positive people who will inspire you to reach higher and become a better version of yourself. Find people who take action instead of constantly making excuses. Build a tribe of people who are focused on success.

4. Use Failure to Motivate You to Succeed

“Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” —Oprah Winfrey

Failure can hold you back or help you succeed. I used to avoid taking action because I was afraid of failure. I wouldn’t talk to that woman because I was afraid of rejection. I wouldn’t apply for that high-paying job because I was afraid of not getting hired.

I finally realized that failure was the motivation I needed to achieve my biggest goals and dreams. After talking to a lot of women and not getting the first date, I finally learned from my mistakes and became better at getting a phone number.

After making a lot of interview mistakes, I began rehearsing my answers to common questions, going through mock interviews with a friend, and correcting my mistakes. I later began landing those high-paying jobs.

Take your ego out of the equation. Don’t look at failure as evidence that you’re not good enough. Instead, look at each failure as an opportunity to chisel your rough edges and get you a little closer to your goal.

5. Be Different

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.” —Robert Frost

From 1997 to 2002, Apple used the slogan “Think different.” This not only helped their branding but also set them apart from their competitors. While other companies were focusing on making money, reducing costs, and copying their competitors’ designs, Apple focused on doing things differently.

They achieved this by creating great products that provided an outstanding user experience. Products that were innovative, simple in design, and very easy to use. This need to do things differently led to their meteoric success in the technology market and stock market.

This might not be a motivation tip you’ve heard of before, but don’t be afraid to be different. All of us are unique. We were born with different strengths, weaknesses, gifts, and talents. It’s the things that make you different that make you unique. Use those unique gifts and strengths to motivate you to achieve your dreams.

6. Read About Super-Successful People

A great way to learn how to get motivated is to read books either by or about super-successful people. You can read their biographies, autobiographies, or other books they’ve written that outline the steps they took to stay motivated, even when things got tough.

I really love autobiographies and biographies because they drill down into the minds and lives of high performers. They show the power of human determination when people are faced with terrible adversities. They teach us how to beat incredible odds to become successful. There are many autobiographies available out there that will inspire you.

7. Take Action Now

Have you ever wanted to do something but analyzed it so much that you never did it? You probably suffered from analysis paralysis, which is thinking that you need more information than what’s required to start something.

The most successful people are motivated by taking immediate action. Jeff Bezos didn’t wait to get tens of millions of dollars in venture capital funding before starting Amazon. Bill Gates didn’t hire 80 people and develop the first iteration of the Microsoft Office suite before launching Microsoft.

Media mogul Gary Vaynerchuck said,

“Some of the greatest entrepreneurs in the world didn’t necessarily start out with a grand vision. They started with an idea and an action.”

If you have an idea, start taking action to make it a reality. You’ll never have all the solutions to all the problems you’re going to face. Start implementing the idea and learn as you go. Don’t ever try to get all or even most of the answers upfront.

Start executing. The more action you take, the more problems you’ll face. The more problems you face, the more solutions you’ll find. As you tackle obstacle after obstacle, you’ll soon realize you’re well on your way to success.


8. Take Responsibility for Your Life

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstance, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” —Jim Rohn

It’s difficult to stay motivated if you believe that you have no control over what happens in your life. There are a lot of things we can’t control, but there are also many things we can control, such as our thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and to a large extent, our destiny.

People who believe they generally have control of their lives have an internal locus of control. On the other hand, People who believe that outside forces have control of their lives have an external locus of control. These are people who believe that the government, a system, politicians, bad luck, and other things have control of their lives.

The problem with believing that external forces control your life is that you don’t think you can take charge of your life. You don’t believe you can make the changes necessary to live a great life. This is a huge mistake.

Focus on the biggest thing you can control and change: yourself. Once you believe you have control of your life, you can make the positive changes that will pull you closer to your biggest dreams.

9. Help Other People

“Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” —Michelle Obama

There’s a reason that Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, and many other extremely successful people love helping their fellow human beings. It feels great, and it makes the world a better place. One of the best motivation tips of all is to help other people.

When I got out of prison after serving a 2-year sentence for a felony drug crime, my only goal was to get a good job, make money, and stay out of trouble. I got a very good education and have had a great career in technology for almost two decades.

I made a lot of money but noticed that it didn’t make me a lot happier. Have you ever bought something new and were happy for a short amount of time and then the happiness quickly faded away?

That’s how I felt when I bought cars, clothes, electronic devices, and even my first house. Then one day, everything changed.

I started going back into prisons to teach incarcerated men the business, personal development, and job readiness skills they needed to start their own businesses or get good jobs when they were released. Helping these guys gave me an extremely high level of happiness that I never experienced before. It motivated me to keep helping people and live a more purposeful life.


I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. At these prison volunteer events, I met executives from the world’s biggest tech companies. After talking to many of these super-successful tech volunteers, I learned that one of the things that motivated them the most was helping other people.

Many of them had more money than they could spend in 30 lifetimes, but that’s not what gave them the most happiness and purpose. It was helping other people.

10. Do What You Love

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” —Steve Jobs

This is probably the most important motivation tip that will help you become successful.

There will be times when you’ll be working long hours, working with people you don’t like, or doing things you don’t like. If you don’t love what you do, you’ll have a very hard time dealing with the negative, tedious aspects of the job.

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours working. It makes sense to do something you’re passionate about. When you do something you love, you’ll be more creative and bring your best work to the world.

Final Thoughts

All of us have dreams, but not everyone achieves them. As you work toward your dreams, you’ll inevitably run into obstacles. The bigger your dreams, the bigger the challenges you’ll face.

There will be times when you’ll be tired, but you will have to keep going. There will be months when tons of things will go wrong. You’ll encounter stress, self-doubt, negativity, and opposition from other people.

No matter how hard things get, you have to keep going. Using these motivation tips will inspire you to keep moving forward so you can achieve those big dreams.

More Motivation Tips

Featured photo credit: Katrina Wright via

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Charles Amemiya

Speaker, life/business coach, social responsibility advocate and technical writer.

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Published on September 27, 2021

What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

We’ve all needed a bit of inspiration at some time in our lives. In the past year or two, that need most likely has grown. Who hasn’t been trying to shed those extra pounds we put on during the pandemic? Who hasn’t felt the need to fake a little enthusiasm at joining yet another Zoom call? Who hasn’t been trying to get excited about trekking back into the office for a 9 to 5 (longer if you add in the commute)? Feeling “meh” is a sign of our times. So, too, is incentive motivation, a way to get back our spark, our drive, and our pursuit of the things we say we want most.

In this article, I’ll talk about what incentive motivation is and how it works.

What Is Incentive Motivation?

Incentive motivation is an area of study in psychology focused on human motivation. What is it that gets us to go from couch potato to running a marathon? What spurs us to get the Covid vaccine—or to forgo it? What is it that influences us to think or act in a certain way? Incentive motivation is concerned with the way goals influence behavior.[1] By all accounts, it works if the incentive being used holds significance for the person.

The Roots of Incentive Motivation

Incentive motivation’s roots can be traced back to when we were children. I’m sure many of us have similar memories of being told to “eat all our veggies” so that we would “grow up to be big and strong,” and if we did eat those veggies, we would be rewarded with a weekend trip to a carnival or amusement park or playground of choice. The incentive of that outing was something we wanted enough to have it influence our behavior.


Growing up, incentive motivation continues to play a major role in what we choose to do. For example, while we may not have relished the idea of spending years studying, getting good grades, pursuing advanced degrees, and graduating with sizeable debt from student loans, a great many of us decided to do just that. Why? Because the end goal of a career, a coveted title, and the associated incentives of financial reward and joy in doing something we love were powerful motivators.

One researcher who believes in the power of incentive motivation is weight management expert, co-author of the book State of Slim, and co-founder of the transformational weight loss program of the same name, Dr. Holly Wyatt. Her work with her clients has proven time and again that when motivation fizzles, incentives can reignite those motivational fires.

“Eat more veggies, exercise, keep track of my weight: These things and more DO work, but bottom line, you gotta keep doing them. Setting up rituals and routines to put your efforts on auto-pilot is one way. And along the way, the use of both external and internal motivators helps keep people on track. External motivation sources are those things outside of ourselves that help to motivate us. They’re powerful, like pouring gasoline on a fire. But they may not last very long. Internal motivators are more tied into the reasons WHY we want to reach our goals. In my State of Slim weight loss program, we spend a lot of time on what I call ‘peeling back the onion’ to find the WHY. I think the internal motivators are more powerful, especially for the long-term, but they may take longer to build. They’re the hot coals that keep our motivational fires burning.”

Examples of Incentive Motivation

In the way of incentive motivation, specific to the external motivators, Dr. Wyatt challenges her clients to commit to changing just one behavior that will help them reach their weight loss goals. Clients must then agree to a “carrot” or a “stick” as either their reward for accomplishing what they say they will do or as their punishment for falling short. Those incentives might be something like enjoying a spa day if they do the thing they said they would do or sweating it out while running up and down the stairwell of their apartment building a certain number of times as punishment for not following through.


Whatever they choose, the goal must be something they really want, and the incentive must be something that matters to them enough to influence their behaviors in reaching those goals. Some people are more motivated by some sort of meaningful reward (a carrot) whereas, other people are more motivated by some sort of negative consequence or the taking away of a privilege (the stick).

Another example of incentive motivation is playing out currently with companies and government entities offering perks to people who get the Covid vaccine. Nationwide, offers are being made in the way of lottery tickets, cash prizes, concert seats, free admission to events and discounts for food, and even free drink at local restaurants and bars. The list of incentives being offered to the public to increase vaccination rates is pretty extensive and quite creative.[2]  These incentives are financial, social, and even hit on moral sensibilities. But is this particular incentive motivation working?

Remember that a key to incentive motivation working is if the individual puts importance on the reward being received on the ultimate goal. So, not all incentives will motivate people in the same way. According to Stephen L. Franzoi, “The value of an incentive can change over time and in different situations.”[3]

How Does Incentive Motivation Differ from Other Types of Motivators?

Incentive motivation is just one type of motivating force that relies on external factors. While rewards are powerful tools in influencing behaviors, a few other options may be more aligned with who you are and what gets you moving toward your goals.


Fear Motivation

In many ways, being motivated by fear is the very opposite of being motivated by incentives. Rather than pursuing some reward, it’s the avoidance of some consequence or painful punishment that sparks someone into action. For example, married couples may “forsake all others” not out of love or commitment but out of a fear that they may be “taken to the cleaners” by their spouses if their infidelities are revealed.

Another example wherein fear becomes the great motivator is one we’re hearing about more and more as we’re coming out of this pandemic—the fear of being poor. The fear of being poor has kept many people in jobs they hate. It’s only now that we see a reversal as headlines are shining a light on just how many workers are quitting and refusing to go back to the way things were.

Social Motivation

Human beings are social creatures. The desire to belong is a powerful motivator. This type of social motivation sparks one’s behavior in ways that, hopefully, result in an individual being accepted by a certain group or other individuals.

The rise of the Internet and the explosion of social media engagement has been both positive and negative in its power to motivate us to be included among what during our school days would be called “the cool kids” or “cliques” (jocks, nerds, artsy, gamers, etc.). We probably all have experienced at one time or another the feelings associated with “not being chosen”—whether to be on a team to play some game or as the winning candidate for some job or competition. Social rejection can make or break us.


Before You Get Up and Go…

Know that, especially during these challenging times, it’s “normal” and very much “okay” to feel a lack of motivation. Know, too, that external motivators, such as those we’ve talked about in this article, can be great tools to get your spark back. We’ve only touched on a few here. There are many more—both external and internal.

Remember that these external motivators, such as incentive motivations, are only as powerful as the importance placed on the reward by the individual. It’s also important to note that if there isn’t an aligned internal motivation, the results will more than likely be short-lived.

For example, losing a certain amount of weight because you want to fit into some outfit you intend to wear at some public event may get you to where you want to be. But will it hold up after your party? Or will those pounds find their way back to you? If you want to be rewarded at work with that trip to the islands because you’ve topped the charts in sales and hustle to make your numbers, will you be motivated again and again for that same incentive? Or will you need more and more to stay motivated?

Viktor Frankl, the 20th-century psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and author of the best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is quoted as having said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” As important as external motivators like incentives may be in influencing behaviors, the key is always to align them with one’s internal “why”—only then will the results be long-lived.


So, how might incentive motivation influence you and your behavior toward goals? Knowing your answer might keep you energized no matter what your journey and help to further your successes.

Featured photo credit: Atharva Tulsi via


[1] Britannica: Incentive motivation
[2] National Governors Association: COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives
[3] verywellmind: The Incentive Theory of Motivation

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