I had a disturbing realization Sunday. I have no motivation right now.
I was reading a book which lays out a detailed plan for achieving success in a particular business field. It’s something I’ve recently started pursuing with the encouragement of a friend who’s in the business. I should be able to make a lot of money doing it. But the writer brought up a foundational question: Why are you doing this? What’s your motivation?
That’s when it hit me that I haven’t had any motivation for years. I’ve had brief periods during which I started feeling motivated — only to have it fade immediately when a woman left my life. That’s when I realized the obvious. I feel no motivation when I’m alone.
I haven’t had anyone in my life who I wanted to achieve things for — and I seem to be as weak without that as Samson was without his hair.
When I had a health scare almost two years ago — when I was diagnosed with blood clots in my lungs — there was a big clue for me about this. I have vivid memories of getting ready to drive myself to a hospital emergency room that Sunday night. It’s a surreal feeling to sit on your bed to put shoes on and wonder whether you’ll come home — to fear you might be about to die.
I remember looking at Lucy and realizing that she was the only reason I had to come back home. The cats could have been fine for days and they might not notice I was gone. (All of my current cats were feral and they aren’t that attached to me, unlike many in the past.)
But Lucy loved me. She adored me. She needed me.
In a very real way, Lucy was my biggest reason to want to live and return home. She was my motivation.
In his early 20th century motivational book, “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill wrote of how useless money is to men without the proper motivation.
“The men who have accumulated great fortunes and achieved outstanding recognition in literature, art, industry, architecture, and the professions, were motivated by the influence of a woman,” Hill wrote. “Take women out of their lives, and great wealth would be useless to most men. It is this inherent desire of man to please woman, which gives woman the power to make or break a man.”
I suspect Hill was basically right, but I would slightly expand what he said. For me, the motivation is a woman and a family. It’s the desire to be something — to do something, to create something — for a wife and children.
For me, it’s not about the money. It’s the desire to give something to a family — and for them to love me, adore me and need me. Just as much as Lucy does now.
As I’ve said before, I have a burning need to be able to make good things for somebody and to be able to take them to her and say, “I made this because of you.”
I could do pretty much anything in life which I wanted to do. That might sound prideful, but I’m not going to bother with false humility here. When I was young, I had the intelligence and talent to achieve whatever interested me most. For a combination of reasons, I made choices that haven’t yet allowed me to achieve the things I had intended.
I had some success. I was managing editor of a daily newspaper when I was still 21. I started publications that were very good when I was still young. I became a very successful political consultant. I made a successful short film that made it into 20 film festivals on my first attempt. I could have used any of those as a springboard to something big, but I didn’t. (The reasons why I didn’t aren’t worth exploring here. Health was a hidden issue for a long time. Then divorce left me alone.)
So now I’m starting down a new path that has the potential to make me wealthy. I look at the people I’ve observed who are already quite successful in the field and I realize I was given more natural ability than they were born with. So I should be able to be wildly successful.
Maybe. Maybe not.
I’m capable of doing some big things. I’m capable of making a lot of money. I’m capable of creating great things to give to my wife and children.
But right now, I have no motivation.
I’m cautiously optimistic about the business venture I’m starting to pursue. I’m still optimistic about making art that can be popular and profitable. I’m still aware of what could be.
But I have to find motivation somewhere if I’m actually going to do anything. I know they tell me I should be motivated from within instead, but I know my history. I know what I need.
In the meantime, I’m grateful to have Lucy. She needs me. She adores me. She’s happy to have any attention I’ll give her.
But as much as I love the World’s Happiest Dog®, I need bigger motivation if I ever hope to do any of the things that matter to me most. I’m never going to be what I’m capable of becoming without the right woman. I hate admitting that, but it’s true.