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What Motivates You To Succeed In Your Career?


Chris Savage, the voice behind the Wrestling Possums blog, was former Chief Operating Officer of STW Group, Australasia’s leading marketing content and communications group, has held senior positions with leaders of the PR industry for over 25 years, and is a much sought after speaker and trainer.

So we’re thrilled he’s let us share his insightful (and well-shared) post from our Firebrand blog.

I flew to New Zealand last week. A colleague flew likewise an hour after me. “Hey, I watched “Blue Velvet” on the flight. What a movie!” he told me.

And then there’s me.

You see, embarrassingly, this is what I did for those three hours. Am I really weird?

I spent the flight to NZ searching for my blibula spot. I wonder whether you are brave enough to truthfully identify and share what your ‘blibula’ spot is? Huh? What’s that? Calm down. Relax. This is what it is. “It’s a spot on a dog’s stomach which when rubbed, causes his leg to rotate wildly.” The Brand Guy told me about it.

When I fly on business, on the way to my destination, I work non-stop. I used that particular flight to work on myself (and to source material for a new workshop on ‘Brand You’ I am presenting to one of our companies in a month). Three hours reading an awesome book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful”, written by Marshall Goldsmith. And here’s the key to what it told me.

For humans, our most important hot button—our blibula spot—is quite simply, self-interest.

Self-interest is what drives us, in life and in business. The trick is working out exactly what that self-interest hot button is for you. Here’s a way to do it. And I am borrowing heavily from Marshall Goldsmith’s book here in sharing this insight.

“People will do something, including changing their behaviour, only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values.”

The key is being able to find out what someone’s hot button is…. To find out what OUR hot buttons are. For ‘successful’ people, the motives behind their self-interest usually boils down to four items:

– Money… e.g., through pay increases

– Power… e.g., through promotions

– Status… e.g., for a bigger title and office

– Popularity… e.g., by a burning desire to be liked by everyone

So, think about this. Why do you turn up to work every day? What motivates you? Is it any of the big four—money, power, status, popularity—or something more profound, something deeper.

I can honestly say I have never been motivated by money, though more of it has always been welcomed. In the early days, status and popularity… then I yearned for the power and influence… and then, once I had achieved certain goals, it all kind of faded somewhat. Now, as Goldsmith so perfectly surmises, my motivation is driven by self-interest of ‘something deeper and more subtle that has developed over time…’, of ‘leaving a legacy, being an inspiring role model, creating a great company’. His words, not mine… but somewhere in all that lies my motivation at this stage of my career. Maybe it is a burning desire to be remembered well. Finally–‘popularity’ rules?

It wasn’t always that way; all about ‘more subtle’ motivations. Oh no. It was a hard core chase for status, power, popularity… and the money did come with it in time. I can still taste the chase now, and I loved it, and don’t regret it. It’s simply what happened to me.

What about you? If you know what matters to you—what drives your self-interest—it’s easier to commit to change. People only change their ways when what they truly care about is threatened.

So, what truly matters to you? What genuinely motivates you to come to work every day and achieve? What is your blibula spot? And do you have the courage to share it with me, now?


I was searching for a spot in this post to put this one thought. Could not find it, so give it to you here. “And are you baiting the hook with the right tasty bits to ensure you are biting regularly.”  (Terrible analogy – but I had it noted down, and just had to use it… sorry).

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