While worry may not be healthy, what’s wrong with using it to get you to do the right thing? Very often we use anger to motivate us to do things we otherwise might not do? Is there an issue with using the wrong motivation to do the right thing?
While worry may not be healthy, what’s wrong with using it to get you to do the right thing?
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Welcome to another episode of Ask Your Question. And this week’s question is, while worry may not be healthy, what’s wrong with using it to get you to do the right thing? Very often we use anger to motivate us to do things we otherwise might not do. Is there an issue with using the wrong motivation to do the right thing?
Great question. And the truth is that the most important thing is doing the right thing, not the motivation. So it’s far more important to do the right thing with the wrong motivation than having the right motivation but not doing the right thing.
Similar to when there is a fire, you don’t start filtering the water. You use dirty water to put out the fire. However, as we pursue higher and higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness in life, motivation plays a very important role. Because when we do the right thing for the wrong motivation, the wrong motivation always makes us prone to stumbling, doing certain aspects of what we’re doing in a way in which it should not be done and similar types of challenges.
For example, when we worry, a part of us is consumed with an emotion which is distracting us from what it is that we need to do. Anger would be the perfect example of this. And the example I like to use is a boxer. If a boxer gets angry at their opponent during a boxing match, then they stop being strategic in their strikes. So they may have a burst of energy and start throwing punches, but usually, those punches will not be accurate or timed well or positioned well because the anger distracts them from being strategic.
And that’s a perfect example of wrong motivation, where wrong motivation actually takes away from our effectiveness and our efficiency. And that’s the reason why ultimately we want to refine ourselves so that we don’t have unhealthy emotions because it makes us much more powerful in life.
And this goes back to the example I used in last week’s episode of nervousness. It’s very normal to get nervous but our nervousness is typically, not always, but typically it is from our own self-consciousness when we’re in a situation. And that can actually be diminished to some extent and that makes us that much more effective. I know when I am nervous and doing something while on one hand, it motivates me, on the other hand, it’s also distracting because I’m more concerned about appearances or what other people are thinking than I am about making sure that my message may be resonating with people. This would be in a case of when I’m speaking.
And, likewise, we have another example of the right thing with the wrong motivation, competition. When competition drives us, while competition can be a very strong driver, very often that turns into me out doing you, that is my barometer of success. And that is, firstly, not a true barometer of success because sometimes I may outdo the other person but I’m still not doing very well and sometimes that person drops out and then because they’ve dropped out I lose my motivation because my entire motivation was external coming from not wanting them to do better than me versus me truly being dedicated to whatever it is that I’m doing.
So there’s a Jewish teaching that tells us that we should do things with the wrong motivation but still doing the right thing because eventually, we will start doing things with the right motivation.
However, we need to keep in mind to pursue the right motivation because that is what makes the difference between a very effective, efficient and powerful person and someone who is always tripping over themselves because they are always consumed with personalizing whatever is going on around them and feeling self-conscious, which always takes away from being focused on the right thing and the result that we need to bring out.
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