The Power of Motive

March 10, 2020
James Whittaker

Check out this episode on the Win the Day Podcast

“All individual achievements are the result of motive.”

Napoleon Hill

Although we’re only two-and-a-bit months into the new year, I started thinking about what are the biggest achievements that come to mind for humanity this year? And achievements don’t always need to be a layer stacked on another layer that becomes a Gold medal. The achievements that actually came to mind for me were in response to some type of tragic situation that rallied large parts of the community to help in any way they could.

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Shortly, we’ll go through a few of those achievements. But as we do, I want you to think about how the power of motive was used to make these achievements a reality because that’s what the power of motive does—it makes the impossible, possible.

“Motive” means “A reason for doing something.” And when that reason is sufficient enough—and directed to a clear outcome—MASSIVE results manifest.

1. Australian bushfires.

My faith in the media has been waning for years after the bombardment of sensationalist and negative stories, but I was thoroughly impressed with how well they covered the bushfires. When these fires decimated the Australian landscape, killing an estimated 1 billion animals, the tragedy dominated the news.

My family travelled to Australia for the Christmas break during that time, and it was heartbreaking to see what was going on. Yet, it was only when we returned to the US that I realized just how far and wide it had been reported.

It was the imagery—the heart-wrenching videos and tragic photos that showed the extent of the destruction. 34 people perished, and this included international firefighters who had flown to Australia to lend a hand.

This wasn’t a movie—it was real life. And as people saw it, they FELT it. And when they felt it, they knew they HAD to help.

When people were given an OUTLET to help, they did. Individuals gave all they could, with money, clothing, and other emergency supplies. Even companies like the UFC donated $250,000 before dedicating an entire event to raising money for the fire relief.

Aussie larrikin Shane Warne, who is also one of the greatest cricketers to ever play the game, auctioned his baggy green cap—which is like Excalibur for every national cricketer. It sold for more than $1 million, with all proceeds going to the relief efforts. Movie stars and business leaders dug deep, chipping in a million here and a million there.

But the one campaign that captured people’s hearts, and is credited with kickstarting much of the larger donations that came in from around the globe, was started by Aussie comedian Celeste Barber. What started as an effort to raise $30,000 ended up with more than $50 MILLION in donations.

One of the advantages of crowdfunding is that it often reveals who out of your friends has donated to a given campaign. Your Facebook feed would show that dozens of your friends had contributed to a certain cause. That social proof, complemented with strong media support and influencer endorsement, created a snowballing effect—surpassing her original goal by a multiple of 1,600 times!

Barber also hosted the Fire Fight Australia concert that brought together some of the country’s biggest musical acts and raised ANOTHER $10 million. All proceeds from these efforts have gone to helping fire-ravaged communities get back on their feet and supporting the greatly depleted emergency services teams.

Are the bushfires an achievement? Absolutely not. But the community banding together to raise more than $500 million for the relief effort certainly is. It’s a phenomenal result, all due to the power of motive.

2. Quaden Bayles.

A few weeks ago, a heartbreaking video went viral around the world. It featured 9-year-old Australian boy Quaden Bayles in tears after being the subject of relentless schoolyard bullying for dwarfism. In the video, he asked his mum for a knife so he could kill himself. I think anyone who’s a parent, or anyone who’s been the victim of bullying before, would greatly empathize with how horrible that situation would be.

The confronting video quickly captured hearts around the world. Then, American comedian Brad Williams launched a crowdfunding campaign with the aim of raising $10,000 so Quaden and his family could enjoy a holiday to Disneyland. Again, the power of motive came into play, with the crowdfund quickly raising more than $700,000.

But it wasn’t just cash that came through. In a video viewed almost two million times, actor Hugh Jackman said:

“Quaden, you are stronger than you know, mate. And no matter what, you’ve got a friend in me. So everyone of us, please be kind to each other. Bullying is not okay, period. Life is hard enough. Let’s just remember every person in front of us is facing some kind of battle, so let’s just be kind.”

Hugh Jackman is spot on: life is hard enough as it is, and we have no idea what battle other people are facing, so we need to be kind.

3. The Samburu tribe in Africa.

In northern Kenya, the Samburu — a mostly nomadic tribe — suffered a tragedy when one of their own, Pius Lenakukuya, became a quadriplegic through a freak accident. It left him with a broken neck and severe spinal cord injuries. Enduring something of this magnitude would be challenging enough in an urban first-world scenario, but being in a remote part of Africa without access to medical care, represented a burden the Samburu were ill-equipped for.

Even if they were able to raise funds, like we’ve seen earlier with the bushfires and Quaden Bayles, their nomadic lifestyle and rugged terrain would be no match for whatever support came through. And, being in such a remote part of the planet, meant they were left entirely to their own devices.

But my dear friend Janine Shepherd, who I’m sure many of you know by now, came to the rescue. Janine is not only a spinal cord patient herself, she’s also spent a lot of time with the Samburu Tribe in Kenya (and knew Pius personally), and decided something had to be done.

Now, you must realize Janine’s superpower is that she doesn’t take no for an answer. She doesn’t take no for an answer. In fact, sometimes the word ‘’no” fires her up even more so she can prove the doubters wrong.

Leveraging her network, Janine set out to do the impossible. She initiated a crowdfunding campaign while at the same time went to work finding medical specialists who would donate their time to fly to Kenya and help with his physical therapy.

The crowdfunding campaign surpassed Janine’s goal of $25,000, with more than 400 people contributing. Her efforts even resulted in a physical therapist and a nurse travelling to Kenya to give Pius a month of intensive rehabilitation. What started as Pius only having movement of one arm has now resulted in him being up on his feet and learning to walk once more.

While still an extremely long road ahead, those who rallied behind Janine’s efforts—which was for a campaign she knew so much about after what she went through personally—have given hope to Pius and the Samburu. That’s the power of motive.


Yes, these are rather extreme examples, but you can leverage this exact same tactic in your own life right now. You don’t need to be on the receiving end of some tragedy. As Napoleon Hill said: “All individual achievements are the result of motive.”

  • Perhaps you’re launching a new product or company, and need support? Give people adequate motive to support your new business.
  • Perhaps you want a promotion at work? Through your actions, give your boss sufficient motive to promote you.

That motive all but forces their hand, stimulating action in the direction that you want.

Motive, that reason for doing something—when combined with a clear outcome—gets massive results. Motive means momentum. If you don’t have motive, you are destined to stagnate. Weak motive leads to weak results, just as a strong motive can change the world.

So think about what areas of life you want different results in right now and explore the power of motive to make it happen.

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

PS - Learn more about the power of motive in my new book Andrew Carnegie's Mental Dynamite. Available for pre-sale right now!

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