The Single Most Important Prerequisite for Success

Pay attention to successful people, and you’ll find one single attribute they share in common. That single attribute is “hunger.” We have a lot of words used to describe the concept of hunger, like driven, ambitious, hustle, and intrinsic motivation. The root cause of hunger for success is “wanting,” it’s “desire.”

There was a woman who worked for me some time ago. She didn’t dress like I believed a salesperson should dress. She didn’t sell like I felt a salesperson should sell. Her approach and her persistence were deserving of an international treaty or at least a restraining order, something I expected to receive in the form of a phone call from an angry prospect or a visit from the local Sheriff’s office.

My salesperson would relentlessly call large companies that spent a lot in our category, asking for a meeting until the prospect relented. In meetings, she would ask for orders. In one meeting, she asked the prospective client for orders so many times, the prospect replied with, “If I give you orders, will you leave?”

Naturally, I was appalled by her brute force approach, preferring instead the fine art of consultative selling. I was positive she couldn’t execute my approach and that I couldn’t effectively share it with her.

As much as you might believe that hunger is selfish, self-oriented, and greedy, it isn’t always true. What is true is that driven people do things for their reasons to satisfy a desire to achieve.

When I probed to understand what was driving the highest revenue-generating salesperson in the region, I discovered that she was a single mother raising two children by herself. Her sole goal in life was to give her daughters the life she believed they deserved—and one she never had. As the product of a mother who shared this belief, I can attest to its infinite power.

Anti-Hunger

At some point, you accept a certain level of comfort, and you turn down your drive, allowing things as they are, maybe giving up on what you want. Let’s call this “anti-hunger,” that term is better—and more charged—than something like “satisfied.” Hunger provides motivation and drive, while “anti-hunger” suggests surrender, complacency, conceding to the status quo without so much as a whimper.

As you mature, it’s rare to find people who expect more of you than you expect of yourself. If you have the good fortune of a leader who sees something in you that you can not—or have not—seen, you have found someone worth following. Mostly, and sadly, it’s rare that you find such a person today because we are all too busy living staring into screens, with relationships that are mostly far too transactional.

Many would tell you to be grateful for what you have, me among them. There are more who would suggest you shouldn’t want, that wanting will harm you. Some will suggest that wanting will only leave you disappointed, a limiting belief, and a fear that some people feel the need to feed others as a form of validation.

You want to be pleased but never satisfied. Satisfied is “anti-hunger.”

Stay Hungry

When I sign copies of Eat Their Lunch, I always inscribe it with the words “Stay Hungry,” a shorthand for retaining your motivation, your desire. Because that book is about stealing customers from your competitors, it means staying competitive, maintaining the desire to win—or “wanting.”

The universe doesn’t expect very much of you or the almost eight billion others who occupy this unlikely, water-covered rock slowly circling a giant ball of fire. Your life is yours to do with what you will—or won’t. The universe accepts either, without protesting, and without complaint.

All of us possess intrinsic motivation, even if many are driven to achieve nothing more than comfort. The reason so many people are clumped together in “the average” is that it’s comfortable, requiring no effort more significant than the level necessary to maintain their comfort. The “anti-hungry” are difficult to motivate because they don’t “want.”

Finding your hunger means deciding what you want. It also means permitting yourself to want, trading comfort for effort, now for later, satisfied for dissatisfied. The challenging part for many people is the lack of the belief that they can have what they want and become the person capable of acquiring it.

Aren’t You Hungry?

If you want to reclaim your appetite, you start by recognizing what you want and converting those ideas into goals. There are precisely two reasons people fail to reach their goals: 1) They are not genuinely committed to their goal (i.e., they don’t want it, and 2). They lack the discipline to execute long enough to achieve their goals.

To breathe life into your goals, you need a better strategy than SMART goals; you need a compelling “why” that drives you towards your goals. The intrinsic motivation, your hunger for success, comes from your appetite, and your desire comes from your reasons. If there are no consequences for failing to reach your goal, you aren’t likely to make it. If you can live without a result, you will.

You will find more motivation from your reasons than you will the goal itself. Writing down your goals and reasons for pursuing them each day will build your hunger.

The gap between where you are now and where you could—or should be—is a matter of your hunger, your strong desire, your drive. If you are not driven, give yourself over to something and allow it to inspire you.

Filed under: Success

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