What Drives You to Succeed?

What Drives You to Succeed?

As fitness professionals, we are motivated by a deep desire to help people achieve their fitness goals.

The research supports the idea that to succeed at something you must have a motive or a deep desire. Those who are wildly successful have heaps of motivation. While successful people may not always know what they are doing, they have a driving motive that is developed from an emotional state. They do not take no for an answer. When things get difficult, they push through and make things happen, negotiate or influence others as needed, and do not quit until they succeed at reaching their goal(s). That is what motivation is all about.

Motivation is regulated by a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This is a small region of the brain that regulates the flow of neurotransmitters between the brain and different nerve cells in the body and strongly influences whether or not you have the desire to do things like go to the gym, eat healthy, and prospect new clients for your business. One of those neurotransmitters worth mentioning is dopamine, because it is this brain chemical, released from this region of the brain, that plays a major role in triggering motivation and reward motivated behavior. Dopamine also influences memory, cognition, sleep, and mood. Behavioral neuroscientists and psychologists say that dopamine helps bridge the gap between inaction and action.

Just as important as the hormonal and neurotransmitter factors that influence your motivation to succeed at something, there are social motives unique to humans that drive behavior. Social motives are specific to humans, while physiological motives are present in both animals and human beings. They are called social motives because they are learned, and the strength of one type of social motive or another will vary from one individual to another, which explains why some people have greater levels of drive to succeed than others. The more you understand the social motives you have, the greater the potential to learn how to harness motivation and take success to the next level. The three main social motives are power, affiliation, and achievement.

These social motives are what compel you to your goals. If you do not use them, your emotional state will not be revved up enough (like putting your foot on the gas), and your progress will be slower, or you may not reach your goal at all. It is important to know that dopamine spikes whenever something goes better than expected – like feeling better than you expected after a tough workout or when you exceed a set goal. Unfortunately, your brain will get used to that feeling quickly and after a few experiences you come to expect the same “high”. Your dopamine levels will no longer spike quite as high and you will begin to feel less excited about difficult work tasks or different workouts, as examples. In order to keep your motivation high and dopamine spiking, you need to take on new challenges (in pursuit of new goals) every couple of weeks or so. Those who exercise, and those who teach and train, know that to keep motivation high they must switch up their exercises weekly, and their routines every four weeks. Remember if nothing changes, nothing changes.

Three Social Motives


People who are power motivated strive to exercise strong, influential action, generate strong emotions in others, and are concerned about reputation or position in the world. They seek positions of leadership, authority and status, and they are most often the leaders within their company. They make their life purpose to inspire others to achieve their best and to live a fulfilling life. This social motive is often called “influence motivation”.


People who are affiliation motivated strive to establish, maintain, and restore close relationships with others and they characterize group activities as social, friendly, and collaborative. The need for being connected with others, for working cohesively with others, while creating participation is key. They succeed in coaching, consulting, and managerial roles that require relationship building.


Achievement motivated people enjoy setting and achieving challenging goals, and they strive for innovative and unique
accomplishments. They are very goal oriented and they perform best when they are given deadlines to achieve. To get to know which social motive drives your performance, you need to first tap into your emotions to really see what drives your behavior. Then you need to take daily action to keep your drive revving high. Visualization is an effective way to tap in. Think about a situation in which you are at the centre of attention, such as when you are giving a presentation. Focus on everything—from what you are wearing, what the room looks like, and how many people are sitting in front of you in the audience. Then ask yourself “how do I feel?” If you have a positive emotional response to this situation and you feel confident and strong, that is a sign you are driven by power. If you feel comfortable or somewhat anxious you are motivated by affiliation or achievement. If you were imagining how you could network with the people in your audience, your motive is affiliation. If you are driven by achievement, you envisioned getting over your fear of public speaking or imagined a standing ovation following your presentation. Which motive did you relate to the most in this scenario?

If you are eager to learn your dominating social motive then I encourage you to check out my recent book, co-authored by Nathalie Plamondon-Thomas and Tasha Hughes. It is called Think YOURSELF™ Successful-The DNA System To Reprogram Your Brain & Wire Yourself For Success. It will provide you with more insight on this area of motivation as well as a self-assessment so you can determine your dominant social motive.

“Some people dream of success while other people wake up every morning and make it happen”.

Wayne Huizenga