I’ll Give You A Million Dollars…

by rubenharris

Almost any person can be persuaded to do something for a cash reward.
Another person might be persuaded to do something based on emotions or
feelings. Others, however, accomplish things simply because whatever
they wanted to do is something that needs to be done. There are so
many legitimate goals (personal, scholastic, work-oriented, etc…) that
are often cast to the side because we have no independent motivation
and/or no dependent, external motivation driving them. Let’s put this
into perspective. A well-dressed, legitimate, man walks into your
living room, unlatches his briefcase that he has placed on the table,
and, upon opening the lid, allows you to look longingly upon
$1,000,000 in cash. He looks at you and says “All of this money is
yours if you finish your goal by the date that you said you would.”
The deal would be over—case closed—whatever goal you had so little (if
any) motivation for, all of a sudden is the sole purpose of life,
motivated externally by money.
There are hundreds of things that lie dormant on our to-do lists like
little reminders to ourselves that we will “one day get around to it,” 
“become more mature one day and drop this habit,” or just so that we
can say that we do have goals, even if they never get worked on, let
alone accomplished. These may be resolutionesque or they may be work
related, but their existence is the one universal constant with the
vast majority of people in our society and is therefore not today’s
order of debate; on the other hand, it would do well for us to all,
individually, look objectively at our lives and find what we are
putting on the permanent backburners—find those goals that, since they
never get done, define our procrastination (what irony that our
procrastination is defined by our goals…just the goals we never do).
Before one can move into working on a problem, the problem must be
first understood to exist.
“I had decided to stop smoking,” my friend Tim was telling me the
other afternoon, “and I was for sure going to stop this weekend, but
there was a party that I had to go to, and I knew that I was going to
want to smoke, so I decided to wait till next weekend, but I think
there is another party…” And the story went on like this for a few
more minutes of haggard head nodding and the complete depreciation of
all the, to me, obvious advice I could give. I realized while my
friend began describing the logistics of one of the parties that Tim
was not unmotivated but was, actually, devoid of any positive
motivation. The motivating factors were present (in this case: healthy
mouth, lungs, teeth; save money; feel better/accomplished), but the
motivation itself had completely vacated his life leaving accepted
stagnation to fill the place it had once graced with eloquence and
Tim’s problem may not be my problem, but then again, my problems may
not be his; however, one thing is for certain: motivation, as a
general norm in our society, is rarely found in an independent nature.
Many times one will find motivation dependent on the ends that the
initial means of motivation will procure (ie. Tim may not have had
independent motivation to stop smoking, but when, for example, his
girlfriend says she will leave him if he does not stop, Tim will
immediately find dependent motivation to stop smoking: motivation
found perhaps in love or in sex).
This is not to say that all dependent motivation is unhealthy. On the
contrary, some of the most important motivators (means to an end) are
dependent upon ends that are entirely different than the initial. But
we must separate rules, theory, and quantification from principles,
realism, and qualification. There may not be a specific philosophy to
control motivation, although one could be complexly defined, but we
all know that there are many, many things that we say we will do or
that we know we should do that never end up getting done.
Everybody stalls. “Whats in it for me?”, “I’m working on it!”, or
“These things take time, you know…” are common things we have all
probably said at some point in our lives. Procrastination happens to
the best of us. Why? Because we don’t feel like doing it or because we
haven’t overcome our fear of doing whatever it is that needs to be
done. Professor Piers Steel used mathematics to quantify and better
understand the desire to complete any given task (Utility) that one
may have; using expectations, levels of importance, sensitivity of
time, and the such, he gives us a more scientific explanation for our
The ‘U’ stands for Utility, or the desire to complete a given task. It
is equal to the product of ‘E’, the expectation of success, and ‘V’,
the value of completion, divided by the product of I, the immediacy of
the task, and D, the personal sensitivity to delay.
If I said, “Ill give you a million dollars if you do said activity”, I
can guarantee you that for more than 90 percent of us, there would be
a desire to complete the given task, you would make sure that it is
successful, there would be value for completion, and it would be done
immediately with little to no delays.
Without beating a dead horse, the point is this: there is always
motivation of some sort; it may be legitimate motivation or it may be
a “million-dollar” motivator, but it is there. The only factor that
keeps anyone from doing their duties or accomplishing their goals is
self (apart from the obvious, innumerable, external circumstances that
often arise). It is sad that with the offer of one million dollars to
everyone one in the country, our society would see so many
accomplished people arise from nothing but the grease from their
elbows and the straps of their boots. Lack of motivation is what stops you
from doing what you’ve always wanted to do; from being what you’ve
always wanted to be. Don’t wait for the million-dollar motivator that
is unlikely to ever come; instead, tap into the same pool of
motivation using just the goal in and of itself to push you with
confidence and security. You will be surprised at the results. In
order to change your world you must first change yourself.

Ruben Harris
Adam T. Wamack – A Young Influence