Motivation is Overvalued. Environment Often Matters More.


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 25, 2023

3 min read


Motivation is Overvalued. Environment Often Matters More.

It is commonly believed that motivation is the key to success. We are often told that if we have enough motivation and talent, we can achieve anything we set our minds to. However, if we take a closer look at how human behavior has been shaped over time, we discover that motivation and talent are often overvalued. In many cases, the environment matters more.

In his award-winning book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, anthropologist and biologist Jared Diamond points out a simple fact: different continents have different shapes. This difference in shape played a significant role in the spread of agriculture over the centuries. According to Diamond, agriculture spread two to three times faster across Asia and Europe than it did up and down the Americas. This is an interesting insight because it highlights the power of the environment in shaping human behavior.

The environment acts as an invisible hand that guides our actions and decisions. It influences the choices we make and the habits we form. Your personal characteristics and motivations tend to get overpowered by your environment, especially over a long period of time. This means that even if you have the motivation and talent to succeed, you may struggle if your environment is not conducive to your goals.

So, what can you do to create an environment that supports your success? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Automate good decisions: One of the most effective ways to create a supportive environment is to automate good decisions. Identify the behaviors and habits that will lead to your success and find ways to make them easier to implement. For example, if you want to eat a healthy diet, stock your kitchen with nutritious food and remove any tempting snacks.
  • 2. Get in the flow: Whenever possible, design your habits so they fit in the flow of your current patterns. This means aligning your goals and actions with your existing routines and habits. For example, if you want to start exercising regularly, find a time of day when you have the most energy and make that your designated workout time.
  • 3. Subtract the negative influences: We often blame our environment when things go wrong, but we ignore it when we succeed. Take a step back and evaluate the negative influences in your environment. Are there people, places, or things that are holding you back? Identify these negative influences and make a conscious effort to remove them from your life.

By creating an environment that supports your goals and aspirations, you can increase your chances of success. Remember, motivation and talent are important, but they are not the sole determinants of success. The environment plays a significant role in shaping human behavior, and by harnessing its power, you can set yourself up for success.

In conclusion, motivation is overvalued. While it is important to have the drive and talent to succeed, the environment often matters more. By understanding the power of the environment and taking action to create a supportive one, you can increase your chances of achieving your goals. So, automate good decisions, get in the flow, and subtract the negative influences. Your environment can be the key to unlocking your full potential.

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