Are You Motivated by Fear or Failure?

by | Sep 28, 2023 | Leadership

What motivates you to win: the opportunity to win or the fear of failure?  

I’ve heard this question asked to sports people often, and I’ve heard varying answers. Some people want to win. They’re obsessed with winning, very competitive, and that’s what drives them. Others fear failure; they fear losing more than they enjoy winning. That fear of failure drives them to work hard, practice and put in the time to avoid losing. 

Recently, I heard an interview where that question was asked to Kobe Bryant. He answered, “Neither” which I thought was interesting. It wasn’t an obsession to win or the fear of failure; Kobe was motivated to play to learn, grow and figure things out. I thought this was an interesting answer that applies to life and leadership. 

Some of my most fun times at Service Express have been solving problems and figuring out interesting business hurdles with talented people. I’ve been at Service Express for 26 years, and we’ve gone from $3 million to over $300 million in revenue. As we’ve grown, there’ve been many things we’ve had to figure out and many challenges to overcome. That’s what’s fun, and that’s why I’ve been here for so long.  

One of my life hacks that I talk about often is to always run to the problem. Play to figure things out and get enjoyment out of that. If your motivation is to hit your numbers every month or every year, that gets to be a grind over time. It’ll wear you out. Part of our culture at Service Express is the motivation to figure things out, solve problems, learn, grow and evolve. That’s what I love and what keeps me motivated.  

When you’re focused on playing the game rather than winning or losing, it takes some of the pressure off. Do the right things the right way and know that the wins will follow as a result.  

I’d love to hear your perspective. Are you motivated by winning or by the fear of failure? Or are you motivated to play the game, stay in the moment, and always learn and grow? 

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About Me

I am the President & CEO of Service Express, a National Best & Brightest Company to Work For. Service Express has averaged double digit growth every year since 2001.

We attribute our success to a unique corporate culture that we call The Service Express Way. I am a member of the Young President Organization and sit on the Board of the Spectrum Health Foundation.