Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Are we really driven by money, power and fame?

As I crossed out the amount of tasks I have to do in the upcoming weeks, I can't help but ask myself the very same questions that I've been asking my whole life.


For many of you who have been reading this blog, you'll probably notice that I've been doing a lot of stuff that doesn't quite translate to the same amount of self benefits. For example, doing interviews, book reviews, etc. Sure, in the course of these reviews and interviews I definitely learned something but isn't there a better way to learn these things without me doing it? If so, why did I still bother to do all these things? What enjoyment do I seek out of it? I've been pondering about my actions for a long time as to why I react and work this way. During the course of such pondering, I start to look at others and wonder why, they too, do the things they do. And there is a huge part of this that I really don't understand because it conflicts with the basic human need and one of the most powerful and essential tool these day.

MONEY - Am I driven by money? Definitely yes, I mean who doesn't? Long gone are the days of butter trade. Everything requires money these days: your house, food, water, entertainment, transportation,etc. But here comes the problem, in today's 21st century context, its not about IF you're driven by money, its about HOW driven you are as an individual. It might not be money and to a certain extend, money will drive you away. Here's something to consider. 

In the traditional sense, this is the logical path in life : You go to school --> study hard --> get good grades --> graduate as one of the best --> therefore resulting to possible hiring by a great company--> work harder --> have better performance at work --> therefore resulting in salary increase climbing up the food chain. 

This is a very simplified concept that I believe an average modern 21st century 10 year old kid can fully understand. But does it work? I have friends whom are super talented, draws faster, better than me and yet they reach the above formula and stop growing for some reason. These friends that I'm referring to are pursuing their masters, some pursuing their bachelors, some already in the work force. Yet I don't see them driven to work by money. Most of them ain't even driven at all. Why? Some of these friends complain about work, about not having enough, about their bosses not appreciating them. They are extremely unhappy about their situation. But they never ever do anything to it because its always about "I'm too old to do this" , "I have a family to look after", etc , etc. 

They never bother to find out WHY they don't have a drive in life.

In these cases, they are clearly driven by something else, not family, not age, not even money, power, fame but FEAR. What amazes me is that most individuals have lots of capacity but they start losing it because they couldn't figure out what their genuine motivation is. They go to a job, get comfortable and stop improving and start complaining. I categorize this symptom as "The Elephant Concept".

The Elephant Concept - An elephant is the largest land living animal on the planet. At birth, an elephant calf  weighs typically 105kg. I weigh about 55kg. I'm a full grown man. An elephant calf can OWN me. So why is it that an elephant in the zoo is so harmless? Well some might say because they are friendly and nice in nature. I think most animals have self protection instinct and if you go up to a full grown elephant in the jungle and threaten to cage it, I bet it will stomp you to death. What happens in the zoo (from what I know), is that when a baby elephant is born, they ground their legs so that they couldn't run. And after repeated failure attempts, they give up and as they grow, they give in to the environment and adapt despite having the capacity to fight back. Its pretty much same with any animal in the zoo.

When you get comfortable in a scenario and stop using your talents because someone doesn't pay you what you think you deserve, you're starting to lose all motivation and drive. You go into a carrot and stick situation where you only move if there is a carrot, you lose all ability to fight.

I really don't want to be an elephant, nothing wrong to be one but it takes life and energy away. It is actually ok to be an elephant. You just have to recognize it, accept it and that way you'll be happier. If after reading this, you DON"T WANT TO BE AN ELEPHANT ANYMORE, find back your drive in life. 

If you don't know how,
Buy THIS BOOK and read it. 
It might just help

[Edit: There is nothing wrong if you're driven by money, power and fame. It is not the preferred  philosophy for me but be a man (or woman) and don't constantly complain about how under paid you are or  how much you're worth]


  1. Nice... Just when I needed reminders of my own why's...

    The zoo applied the concept of "learned helplessness", whereby the animals were either denied reward or given punishment for "undesirable" actions.. Such conditioning shapes the behaviours of the animals and gradually they will be tamed, and just behave according to what they have been conditioned to.

    Some might still, at times, go wild and behave according to primal instincts... We humans pride ourselves on our cognitive abilities - being able to think and form opinions, and not simply be bound behaviourally... But, well, we might be more animalistic than we think we are.

  2. Yeah, I think this is your area of study. I was reading the book "Drive" that I mention in this post and it talks about "open source" projects that performs way better than company funded projects. I'm still at chapter 1 of the book and is really motivated by what it says.