THE FUEL OF SUCCESS: How Motivation, Inspiration and Discipline work

More often than not I see the terms motivation, inspiration and discipline being used interchangeably. Since I believe all three are extremely important and useful factors which will determine how happy, successful and effective you are, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss them.

To me, motivation is a positive or negative feeling which gets us to take action. We are motivated by pain or pleasure. It is temporary and it lasts long enough to produce the particular action. If I think of the worst things that will happen if I don’t get out of bed or if I think of all the great things I can do if I DO get out of bed then I am actively motivating myself. Often motivating ourselves once isn’t enough and we need to keep imagining the good and/or bad until the feeling is strong enough.

Inspiration is different. Inspiration is more of a once off experience where something from our world triggers something inside us and helps us see things differently as a result. When we see things differently it often leads us to make strong life decisions as a result. We are inspired by something to do something but it happens once and we do not need to continuously inspire ourselves.

Discipline is when we have already made a decision to do something and we make it a habit to take that action. We do not need to spend time creating the feelings or even be inspired by something to do it… we already decided to do it and we know when we are going to do it and we automate it. It requires little effort or energy because we don’t question it. It is irrelevant to what we feel like doing. It is extremely consistent but gets easier the more we live our lives in a disciplined way.

My good friend Tom Ziglar talked with me about how his father, the inspirational legend Zig Ziglar, once remarked that Motivation is like having a bath… you need to do it every day. Often we talk about motivational speakers but I believe they are really inspirational speakers. We are the motivational speakers of our own lives and if we are motivated to be lazy then we are not very helpful motivational speakers.

I used to mock inspirational quotes. I saw them as the art of saying nothing and pretending to be clever. I have changed my perspective on this recently however. You see I still do not like quotes that give simplistic thoughts such as ‘You can do whatever you put your mind on’ but the reality is for some people this inspires them and no amount of intellectual snobbery on my behalf can change that. When I post an inspiring quote I always try and make people think about something differently because it has helped make me think about something differently.

So, here are my thoughts on this. Seek out inspiration which gets you thinking in ways that make you happier and more successful. If a speaker or movie or book or guru or philosophy or expert or quote does that for you, wonderful.

Motivate yourself deliberately to start taking actions which make your life better. Build goals, identify how you want your life to be and how you want you to be and figure out what you need to do. Then motivate yourself every single day by reminding yourself of how your actions are connected to your success or failure.

Finally, be clear of the exact daily habits you need to engage in for you to create the future you want and decide to do them. Plan ahead and structure your day around these habits and discipline yourself to just do them without even considering any alternative. You can always review after a few weeks. But get into the habit of being the kind of person who takes regular, consistent action.

Be inspired. Be Motivated. Be Disciplined. Therein lies the three sources of the fuel of success.


You may also like

Inner Propaganda Podcast - Owen Fitzpatrick

Your information is protected, and I never spam, ever. You can view my privacy policy here.


Almost every single personal development approach I’ve studied over 30 years comes down to this solitary principle which I call the 4 and 2 principle. In this FREE PDF, I break down exactly what it is and how you can use it to transform your life.

Success! Check your email for details


You have the expertise but how do you put it together in such a way you can turn it into a business? For years now, I’ve been asked many times to reveal what I would do today if I was building my expert business from scratch. In this video training, I break it down step-by-step, in order, and walk you through exactly what I would do today if I was to start from the beginning.

Success! Check your email for details


This life changing video training explains the 8 steps that you need to take if you want to conquer adversity, handle change, manage your emotions and be at your best. I will explain some of the most important lessons I have learned from working with many thousands of people in more than 30 countries.

Success! Check your email for details