Unconventional Motivators -The People That Push Me Forward

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Today I’d like to introduce you to the people that motivate me daily.

Be it one of my endurance challenges, difficult life decisions, or simply getting out of bed when my mind is screaming for surrender, these people are with me every step of the way.

When we think of motivational people, many great faces come to mind.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Maya Angelou, David Goggins, Martin Luther King Jr, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Malala Yousafzai. These motivators are really good at hitting you right in the feels.

If I need a quick motivational hit, I’ll put one of these people on YouTube and let the dopamine flow.

Motivation is great, but it’s short lived, at least in the form mentioned above. We’ve discussed previously about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and the importance of figuring out your ‘WHY’, – that underlying reason for pushing yourself towards your goals that you feel in your very core.

Well, these next people, for the most part, help trigger that intrinsic drive in me. They remind me of my core values. They push my dreams and aspirations to the forefront of my mind.

They quietly dare me to succeed.

So, lets meet them.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler Aerobie.com

Alan Adler influences me every single day, in a subtle but powerful way.

Alan is an inventor. He invented the Aerobie flying disc, which revolutionised the art of frisbie throwing.

As a child of 7, seeing the Aerobie fly for what seemed like an eternity, left me dumbfounded.

Right until said Aerobie hit me in the face, at which point, it left me mildly concussed.

The Aerobie is, in part, responsible for my love of playful movement, an aspect that we carry throughout the ethos of Wild Life.

But it’s another invention of Alan’s that is responsible for much of my motivation.

The Aeropress.

a person wearing plaid long sleeves making a cup of coffee

When I first saw this simple coffee maker, I assumed the hype was all bluff; propaganda to justify expensive coffee at the hipster barista coffee shop.

But, I gave it a go, and I have to say that it makes the nicest coffee ever.

It’s become a scheduled part of my morning ritual that sets me up to win my day.

And, while I limit my intake of caffeinated coffee nowadays, it serves a really strong purpose when I need to get shit done, be that a work deadline or a tough workout.

So, Alan. I raise my cup of black coffee to you, sir, as a salute and a thank you. Your service to moustachioed hipsters and the chronically fatigued is hugely appreciated.

Bill Conti

For me, music is caffeine for the ears. And of all the music, it’s composer Bill Conti’s that is guaranteed to get my blood pumping.

Bill Conti has made a lot of music, but perhaps is most well known for the Rocky soundtracks.

The main Rocky theme tune ‘Gonna Fly Now’ and Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ are both popular tracks on many people’s playlists, but for me there is one song that’s a sure-fire way of getting me pumped up and moving, and that is the track ‘Going the Distance’ from the Rocky II soundtrack.

When that bell chimes, it feels like electricity suddenly surges up my spine. Literal tears well in my eyes, and the determination to keep going floods my body, so overwhelmingly, that I almost feel possessed.

For all of my endurance challenges, this track has been on repeat. When I feel like I can’t take another step Bill Conti comes along to slap me in the face, kick me in the ass and show me that I’m not even close to being done.

Thank you Bill.

Theodore Roosevelt’s Speech

The 26th President of the US is worthy of a post in his own right. There is much to be inspired and motivated by Theodore Roosevelt. To many, he is the epitome of ‘grit’. A good starting point is The Art of Manliness’s article on his approach to the ‘strenuous life’.

Sadly, Roosevelt’s negative opinions on race and civil rights, very much tarnishes much of the message of grit he espoused.

But, it’s Roosevelt’s ‘Man In The Arena’ speech that I want to mention here.

When I’m feeling down or unmotivated, or when I feel like I’m struggling to see my ‘WHY’, I pop this YouTube rendition of the speech on.

The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twisted pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt.

There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

I have been the sneering, cynical critic more times than I am proud of. This speech holds me in check.

I fail, I err, I have many shortcomings. This speech reminds me of who I want to be, the type of human being I have always dreamt of being.

When I’m flat on my face, floored by what life has thrown at me, it gives me the courage to get back up to my feet. Even if I fail, the very act of trying makes me improve.

It reminds me that mediocrity has always been my way out. But the only true way out is through.

Thank you, Teddy, for reminding me to not be a cold and timid soul.


Okay, now the next few may at first seem egotistical and narcissistic, but hear me out.

7 Year Old Me

A year or so before this picture was taken, this kid had to deal with some pretty heavy shit.

As a coping mechanism, I spent a great amount of time in my imaginary world deciding the sort of person I wanted to be.

I wanted to be Bruce Lee, B A Baracus, Wolverine, Spiderman and Robin Hood all rolled into one.

I wanted to be a hero. I guess because I needed a hero myself.

And while I fall short of the hero standard, and will always fall short, I have tried to make myself the resilient, adaptable role model that I needed.

I have a lot of work still to do, but a lifetime left to work on it.

I am proud of that bowl-cut wearing kid, for the way he survived his trauma, for the lessons he has taught me, and for being there when I needed him.

He drives me to try and be a better human being. I know he’d be proud.

Become the hero you needed, because someone else needs that hero now.

Old Man Glenn

I have discussed in the past the practice of memento mori, contemplating ones own mortality.

Knowing my demise is inevitable is empowering for me. It keeps me in the present.

I could die tomorrow, but the plan is to live long and drop dead. No slow decline, just POW!!… and gone.

And so, one of my huge motivators is Old Man Glenn.

The image I have of him is like an amalgamation of Santa, Clint Eastwood and Wolverine.

Old man Logan – Hasbro

If I make it to this age, I want to be able to move, to dance, to fight, to climb hills, to play with my grandchildren.

This picture of my aged self is a wonderful reminder of why I turn up, why I train, and why I live my life the way I do.

It helps to remember that what I sacrifice now, I’ll reap in the future.

I’m there for you, old man. I hope I make you proud.

Alter-ego me

There is a huge amount of power and growth that you can get from creating an alter-ego for yourself.

Lots of high level performers do this. Kobe Bryant, Beyoncé, and Adele, to name a few, have all utilised the alter-ego to leverage their performance.

So, I create my own. He’s the action hero version of me. He already does everything I’d like to do. He is calm, confident, tenacious, tough, resourceful, and never flaps under pressure.

He’s great at public speaking, can turn his hand to pretty much anything, takes no shit from anyone, and can stop you dead with just a look.

If you have ever seen me do any of these things well, it probably wasn’t me. It was him.

And while I pass the reins to Alter-ego Me from time to time, he motivates me to become him.

And like I said about the hero my 7 year old self yearned for, his standards are impossibly high. But that’s okay.

Just by striving to become that person, I automatically get better, even if I fail.

I just need to work out why he looks so grumpy.

My Family

This bunch of oddballs and freaks are my single biggest motivator.

When I contemplate my ‘WHY’ it pretty much always includes these guys.

I want to be around for a long time and to spend as much of it as possible with these loons.

They bring out the best in me. They love me unconditionally. They support me in whatever madcap scheme my eccentric mind comes up with.

I want to inspire my kids to be good people, and this in turn inspires me to try to be a good person.

I want them to see me struggle, to see me fail, and then to see me get up and try again.

It’s a positive feedback loop. The simple fact of them existing makes me get back up.

If you could attach a wire to the inspiration and drive that my kids give me, we’d have free electricity for eternity.

And then there is Kelley, the Bonnie to my Clyde. She has stood shoulder to shoulder with me through everything. The confidant when I need to unload. The one-woman support crew when I’m doing ridiculous shit. The fearless Shield Maiden when it’s time to fight.

I used to think that she made me a complete person; that she was the other half I had been missing.

In reality, she showed me what a complete person looks like. She brings out the completeness that already resides in me.

I am blessed to have this little powerful unit of beautiful and bonkers people around me. They make hard stuff seem easy and the impossible totally do-able.

Spending some time thinking about who motivates you is always time well spent. When you know the things and people that aid your progress, you can schedule in more time with them.

Having a team of people, real or virtual, who collectively strum the strings of soul, driving you to your own personal form of greatness is a gift that all should have.

So who motivates you?

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