Both are powerful, but only one will help you build a great life.
There are really only two fundamental driving forces in life. One of them can be helpful, but is short lived. The other one can make you very successful.
1) Running away from something (survival) 2) Running toward something (your Big Why—purpose)
Only the second one creates lasting success. The first one might even create failure.
Moving away from something is a survival tactic. Survival is a very strong instinct, but the negative nature of it will not help you get to great places. It will only help you escape unhelpful ones. Running from something gets tiring.
There are legitimate reasons to run from something—a bear in the woods, a mudslide, that guy who won’t stop talking. Many people look for a new job or start a businesses because they are fed up with the boss or the company they work for. Others do it because they were let go and didn’t want to ever be that vulnerable again. All of these are legitimate reasons to run from something unhelpful.
A negative driving force can be a good incentive to get something started. But the problem with running from things is that it isn’t sustainable. The gravitational pull of that thing chasing you, will eventually slow you down and wear you out. We aren’t built to find long term sustainable motivation from running away from things, but by running toward them.
When you find something to run toward you’re much more likely to create a sustainable motivation and succeed. A positive driving force is something that you don’t have, but it has you. It grips you and compels you forward—you can’t help but go in that direction because the gravitation pull in front of you is strong and always getting stronger as you get closer to it.
What drives your life? What compels you to get up in the morning even when you’re not making money and when you’re tired of the struggle? What helps you see the struggle as the road to success rather than the road to nowhere? I call that my Big Why—the big reason to be in business or in life that is so much bigger than just the trivial need to make some money.
If you have a Big Why, a positive driving force that is compelling you forward, you are unlikely to wear out, slow down or give up.
The Paralyzing Middle—Neutral
But there is one other condition that won’t get us anywhere, and is paralyzing—living in neutral. When we’re living in neutral, we’re neither moving away from something or toward something, but simply not going anywhere—dead in the water of life—just treading to keep our head above it all. People who live in neutral many times have reasonably safe, comfortable and predictable lives, but rarely have a story to tell. Movement of some kind is critical. Moving away from the earth might help us eventually find the gravitational pull of the moon. Running away can help us find something to run toward, but neutral doesn’t help us find anything.
Get A Big Why—Your Blue Flame
Get out of neutral if you’re in it—wake up, get a Big Why and run toward it. We call it the blue flame that drives you forward, like the afterburner of a fighter jet.
Do you have a blue flame coming out your back side that is driving you forward? It’s the best way to ensure you’ll build a life you’ll love.
Some day your life may flash before you. If it does, make sure it’s worth watching.
Carpe freaking diem, already.