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Advice From The Most Successful People EVER | Motivation Archive | Volume 1

one of the things that when things don’t

work out one of the things I’ve been

telling myself and also thinking about a

lot is apart from the fact of learning

which we’ll go into is just that space

I’m actually understanding that there

may be a different route see we get so

attached to having one route one method

one way of working we believe that

there’s only one pathway to where we

want to be there’s this conveyor belt of

things we have to do whether it’s you

know get a degree find a partner buy a

house you know play golf whatever it is

like this conveyor belt of efficiency

and productivity that we here that

becomes a part of our natural

progression and when that breaks apart

that’s when we start to worry that’s

when we start to think but notice that

then actually it’s a lot better when

that happens earlier in life see regret

has some really important roles the

first one is that it helps us make sense

of the world from our perspective for

one of the first time see most of us

have spent our lives learning what’s

important to us based on maybe what

families or what communities to what

parents to what education to whatever it

is when you start regretting something a

new thing you did something wrong when

you start thinking that I could have

done something differently you’re making

sense of the world from your perspective

it’s crazy how powerful this is right

you’re starting to make sense of the

world from your perspective the second

thing is it allows you to avoid future

negative behavior if you know you

regretted something why don’t you write

it down right now

right if you regret something write it

down right now because it will teach you

so much in the future you’ve got to

write down the lesson you learn now

otherwise next time when you think

you’re making another tough decision

you’re gonna say to yourself oh what did

I do last time how did I not make myself

regret that and then you’re gonna be

upset you’re gonna regret that you

didn’t write it down so write it down

right now really sad to see that people

are disenchanted and nihilistic and

depressed and anxious and aimless and

and perverse and vengeful and and all of

those things it’s terrible and then to

see people question whether that’s

necessary and

to start to rise out of it it’s like

it’s so fun like last night I was at

after my talk it’s overwhelming

I don’t usually think about these things

but I was it I was after my talk last

night and so all these people line up

and you know they have their 15 15

seconds with me and they’re kind of

tentative they’re excited and a

tentative when they come up to talk to

me and then they have to know 15 seconds

of time to tell me something I’m really

listening to them and they’re hesitant

about whether or not to share the good

news about their life you know and I

think it’s often because when people

share good news about their life people

don’t necessarily respond positively you

know they don’t get encouragement and

people need so little encouragement it’s

just unbelievable and so there comes

something good and I’m like ah that’s so

good you know when somebody says oh I’m

getting along way better with my father

I haven’t seen him for 10 years and now

we get along great and then the power of

that you can’t overstate the power of

that for individuals to get their life

together the individual is an

unbelievably powerful force and every

single person who gets their act

together a little bit has the capacity

to spread that around them it’s it’s a

how did you go through making the

decision to drop it was a very good job

and take it take this chance it all

seems very obvious now right this many

years later that it paid off but at the

time it was not obvious no no it was and

and and I did do a lot of soul searching

I I went to my boss at the time and I

really liked my job and I told my boss I

was gonna go do this thing start an

internet bookstore and my wife had

already told my wife and she’s like

great let’s go

and I I said so I’m also gonna do this

he’s like this is a good idea so I think

this is a good idea but it would be an

even better idea for somebody who didn’t

already have a good job and that sort of

made some logical sense to me and he

convinced me to think about it for a

couple of days so I went away I was

really trying to get my head around how

to think about this and I think for me

the right way to make that kind of very

personal decision because those

decisions are personal they’re not like

data-driven business decisions there

they are you know what does your heart

say and for me it was I could the best

way to think about it was to project

myself forward to age 80 and said look

when I’m 80 years old I want to have

minimized the number of regrets that I

have I don’t want to be 80 years old in

a quiet moment of reflection thinking

back over my life and in catalog you a

bunch of major regrets and I think that

regrets our biggest regrets in most

cases you can murder somebody okay you’d

regret that but in most cases our

biggest regrets turn out to the acts of


it’s paths not taken and they haunt us

we wonder what would have happened I

loved that person and I never told him

and then they married somebody else I

didn’t you know I didn’t do this and so

that’s the frame of mind that I put

myself in and I and once I did that once

I thought about that way it was

immediately obvious to me I knew that

when I’m 80 I would never regret trying

this thing that I was super excited

about and failing if it failed fine I

would be very proud of the fact when I’m

80 that I tried and I also

knew that it would always haunt me if I

didn’t try and so that would be a regret

it would be a hundred percent chance of

a regret if I didn’t try and basically a

0% chance of regret if I tried and

failed so I think that’s a useful metric

for any important life decision there’s

so much knowledge out there so much

and we make we make so many mistakes

whether we’re the product of our

mistakes and oftentimes the lesson is

sitting there right in front of our face

it’s there to be learned but we miss it

or we don’t pay attention to it

or we think we know better until it

and the most important thing to learn is

that we have so much to learn we all do

and we can learn from school and from

people and from experience and we learn

from life but you have to process the

information you have to absorb it you

have to accept it you have to open your

mind you’ve got to free your mind so

that you can learn and make real

progress and as far as regrets and

things I wish I would have done

differently of course hindsight

hindsight is 20/20 and looking back of

course who wouldn’t want to take another

go at something and improve on the first

try by doing it again and then why not

do it again and again and again and why

not just do it over and over again until

you have it

perfect but the fact is you don’t get

that chance you get one shot one shot at

this gig right here life one life that’s

all you’ve gotten and regret in and of

itself it’s worthless it does nothing

for you in fact the only valuable thing

in regret is the lesson you learned the

knowledge that you gained but walking

around filled with regret it gets you

nothing so

learn and move on don’t let regret beat

you down don’t be a slave to regret no

let the fear of regret fuel you to take

action today now to take action now to

become a better person not filled with

filled with knowledge and strength and

power and filled with life

I call it Just’s have been not all

psychologists obviously but the

psychological profession is its neck

deep in this in this pathology has been

beating these self-esteem drum for 50


oh no you’re okay you should feel good

about yourself like you’re fine the way

you are it’s like you think well that’s

a calming message for people it’s like

no it’s not it’s not at all and I

watched my audience this is like it’s

full of people in the audience who think

I’m suffering a lot more than I think is

tenable a whole bunch of it’s my fault

my life is not in the order it should be

I know I’m doing 50 things wrong it’s

like what the hell’s wrong with me

what’s wrong with the people around me

this is really serious and some you know

well-meaning person comes up and says oh

you’re okay just the way you are it’s

like no one wants that message it’s like

no I’m not okay the way I am I’m not

okay at all the way I am I know that and

so you know when I’m when I’m speaking

to to when I’m speaking now I say to

people whoa whoa you’re nowhere near

what you could be that’s that that’s the

positive message it’s like yeah you’re a

mess but you don’t have to stay that way

but you’re a mess you know it obviously

you’re suffering away like like so much

you can barely tolerate it it’s like

that’s okay you can do something about


so yeah that’s the thing that that turns

the lights on it’s like you do something

about it

I think I feel feel fear quite strongly

so it’s not as though I just have the

absence of fear I’ve I feel it quite

strongly but there are times when if

something is important enough you

believe in it enough that you do it in

spite of the fear like people shouldn’t

think I should if you should think well

I feel fear about this and therefore I

shouldn’t do it it’s normal to be to

feel fear

like you’d have to definitely something

mentally wrong you shouldn’t feel fear

so you just feel it and let the

importance of it drive you to do it

anyway yeah you know actually we’re

something that can be helpful as

fatalism some degree if you just think

if just accept the probabilities then

that diminishes fear so we’re starting

SpaceX I thought the odds of success

were less than 10% and I just accepted

that actually probably I would just lose

lose everything but that maybe would

make some progress if we could just move

the ball forward even if we died maybe

some other company could pick up the

baton and move and keep moving it

forward so that were still do some good

yeah same with Tesla I thought your odds

of a car company succeeding were

extremely low one of the things that’s

really interesting about the old

testament is that and the Jews in the

Old Testament is that they don’t take

the path of Cain every time they’re

walloped by God which is like fairly

frequently they say we must have done

something wrong and we have to set

herself right and that’s a an

unbelievably heroic attitude because

that’s the alternative cursing fate it’s

like you take the responsibility for

failure unto yourself and you think well

if I was just maybe if I just had my act

together a little bit more if I took

advantage of every opportunity that was

put in front of me if I wasn’t resentful

and bitter then I could have done

something that would have tilted the

situation in a different direction and

like that’s almost inevitably true

Dostoevsky I think said something like

every man is responsible for everything


to him and everything that happens to

everyone else and that’s you know that

that’s that’s a guy it’s a crazy

statement right it’s a crazy statement

and he was a pretty extreme person in

many many ways but there’s a level at

which that’s metaphysically true you

know because what happens is that it’s

you its failure to act often that’s the

most catastrophic you know I mean I’ve

it’s it’s it’s to not do the right thing

when the when the situation presents

itself and it’s very specific you know

you’re constantly in situations where

you could do the right thing if you were

willing to take a risk that’s actually a

relatively moderate size and you know

that you could take the risk and you

know that you should take the risk and

you don’t and that happens to people all

the time and then what happens is the

thing that they didn’t oppose grows a

little bit and they shrink a little bit

and that starts a loop pay most of the

people who were teaching right now who

are listening to this thing would not

hire themselves that if you had to pick

someone in the world to do it the thing

that you do you’d find someone better

than you so we’ve changed the stakes and

we have to be really clear about that it

used to be if you went to Rhode Island

School of Design and you got through it

you had this huge head start on people

that starts are gone yes so when you

think about it you know when when

someone says I’m a freelancer and my

primary asset is my relationship with my

clients well if I went and asked your

clients which of all the freelancers you

work with is off the charts for the

relationship would they actually pick

you this person right that when someone

says I’m able to use light and color to

create photographs to create an

indelible image in people’s heads well

if I talk to the people who’ve seen it

are you really off the charts so what

I’m saying is yes this institution is

crumbling but that puts a huge onus on

people to be honest with themselves

about the craft that you’re not going to

get away with the craft being what it

used to be just because we could find

you and you know I gave a talk two weeks

ago to the people who make all the

imprinted items

in the country like pens and water

bottles things like the huge industry

there’s fifty thousand a hundred

thousand people who do this for a living

ninety percent of them have a big thick

catalogue they’ll have the same catalog

and the same price list and you go to

them and they say yeah if these water

bottles with one do you want that used

to be a really important value add

because there was no internet but now

there’s the internet sort by price I’ll

take this water bottle I’m done ten

percent of the people actually engage

with you help you find a thing you never

would have thought of deliver the thing

that’s off the charts are taking huge

emotional risks as they do their work

the other ninety percent are sitting

there thinking and they are in the ten

percent they’re not they just have a

catalog so sometimes people throw things

at me when I’m on stage because my

argument is I didn’t wish for the world

to change but it did

now that the world has changed don’t get

frustrated because people are doing

exactly what you do shopping around

sorting by price buying commodities

because that’s what we do when we’re

given the choice so if you want to be

treated as an on commodity act like an

on commodity no one is a commodity if

they don’t want to be the separation of

talent and skill is one of the the the

greatest misunderstood concepts for

people who are trying to excel who have

dreams that want to do things talent you

have naturally skill is only developed

by hours and hours and hours of beating

on your craft number one thing that’s

gonna change your life the only thing

that will change your life change your

business change your money change your

relationship because you must raise your

standard and I know that sounds boring

stupid basic but it’s the truth the only

thing that changes our life long term is

when we raise our standards what does

that mean that sounds so boring and dumb

it means that all of us in life have

things we want we don’t get what we want

we get what we have to have remember I

said earlier we all get what we tolerate

in ourselves and other people but when

you’re no longer willing to tolerate

something that’s when your life changes

the difference in people is their

standards period the difference in

people is their standards period and

what I mean by standards everyone in the

world has a list of things they think

they should do I should lose weight I

should work out I should spend more time

with my kids I should work harder I

should make more calls I should I should

I should I should and then you know what

people don’t do their sheds and they get

mad at themselves and they what I call

all over themselves they beat

themself up about it

what changes people is when your should

becomes a must when suddenly the thing

you said should happen has to happen

that’s when human beings change it’s

like if you want to take the island and

you’re the head of the army you want to

take the iron island the most powerful

way to take the Islanders burn the boats

because if there’s no way to go back

it’s amazing what happens when it’s a


there’s no easy way around it no matter

how talented you are your talent is

going to fail you if you’re not skilled

you know if you don’t study if you don’t

work really hard and dedicate yourself

to being better every single day you’ll

never be able to communicate with with

people there’s another rule in my book

which is rule 9 assume that the person

that you’re listening to knows something

you don’t

well they do the person you’re listening

to knows some things you don’t you can

be sure of that now whether or not you

can get to them is a different matter

but if you do get to them it’s a real

deal for you that’s why you want to

listen to the other person’s arguments

is because you’re not everything you

could be you don’t know the pathway

forward with as much clarity as you

could and it’s possible this is one of

the wonderful things that I’ve had the

privilege of experiencing as a clinician

you know because people it’s like I live

inside a Dostoyevsky novel as a

clinician people come in and they tell

me about their lives and I listen to

them and they tell me things that are

just absolutely beyond belief you know

and I learn from my clients constantly

there they’re telling me honestly about

their experience they tell me things

they wouldn’t tell anyone else because I

actually listen to them but part of the

reason I listen is because I’m desperate

to listen it’s like there’s a

possibility I’m gonna do something

stupid in the next five years that’s

gonna be like fatal and there’s some

small possibility that if we have a

decent discussion that you’ll tell me

something that will eliminate some of my

blindness so that I don’t have to fall

into that particular pit and if you have

a good sensitivity for the depth of the

pit then you know you’re pretty bloody

motivated to avoid it and so and that

and and that and that dialog is it’s

it’s dialogic it’s dial logos right it’s

shared logos it’s the way that we redeem

ourselves mutually moving forward

motivated by fear fear you know fear of

what fear of fear I hate being scared to

do something I hate that feeling of the

feeling that I had before I had a

meeting with Quincy Jones because it’s

really Quincy Jones and a guy named

Benny Medina oh I know and Jeff Pollack

came with the idea for the Fresh Prince

of bel-air and I hated being scared you

know that I didn’t want to

even take the meeting there were

opportunities during when I first my

first year as a rapper Bill Cosby and

the people in The Cosby Show had seen my

music video and called me to be a

character to come write and try out for

the Cosby Show and just every time it

was set up for some reason I couldn’t

make it the fear of fear the fear I hate

it I just hated that being scared to do

something and I think what developed in

my in my early days was the the attitude

that I started attacking things that I

was scared if you’re hungry and you eat

well that’s good but it’s over and then

you’re on to the next thing right it’s

not exactly sustaining it’s just

necessary that’s called consume Ettore

reward by the way this other reward

system is incentive reward and the

incentive reward system works on

dopamine this neurochemical dopamine

which is also the neuro chemical tracks

that opiates and cocaine and

amphetamines the drugs that people

really like to abuse alcohol often for

some people activate and so you might

say if you don’t have enough meaning in

your life then you’re more prone to

addiction and that’s definitely the case

even with rats if you take a rat you put

him in a cage by himself and he has

nothing to do and then you give him

access to cocaine he’ll get addicted to

the point where he won’t do anything but

take cocaine but if you throw the rat

back in with a bunch of other rats and

he gets to do rat things then it’s very

hard to get him addicted to cocaine and

so the purposeless rat is prone to

addiction well it’s the same with human

beings now here’s a corollary to that

which is really cool so the magnitude of

the reward you experience as you’re

moving towards a goal is proportionate

to the importance of the goal so that

means the more important the goal you

pick the more possibility there is for

the kind of reward let’s say it’s really

a state of being that is life-affirming

and it is directly life-affirming in

that you know like if you’re in a

football game and you’re and it’s an

important football game and maybe you

break a finger and you know normally

that’s that’s a problem it hurts and

you’re going to stop

doing whatever you’re doing but if

you’re right in the middle of the game

then you’ll be so amped up on this

reward system that its analgesic it

stops the pain it also suppresses

anxiety so if you have a purpose then

its analgesic it takes some of the pain

out of life it’s very positive in that

it motivates and energizes you and

focuses you and makes you able to

remember and pay attention and it quells

fear and so those things are all direct

and so then you might think well what’s

the best possible goal well and that’s

that’s the purpose I would say of

religious training and philosophical

training it’s like just what the hell

are you doing in the world you really

have to decide the most important

decision is do I want to be happy will I

commit to being happy more important

than happy sometimes you’d be so happy

you smile so much your face hurts right

you need variety am I committed to

living in a beautiful state even when it

doesn’t go my way even when it rains on

my parade even when my biggest fear

shows up because I can’t control whether

you’re husband and wife will live or die

or get sick or leave you or get a


I don’t want any of that to happen any

human being I hate suffering I do

anything I can tell people’s not suffer

but I can’t control that you can you can

there are people have lost their arms

lost their sight there have been people

that have been through the most horrific

experiences life and they found a way to

still be happy because they’ve made the

decision that life is too short to

suffer I’ve interviewed dozens and

hundreds over the years but dozens that

like have impacted my soul that made me

realize I can change this I’ve just

gotten used to it I bought into the

theory that this this survival software

that’s constantly running and making you

suffer that that’s normal

no that’s what the mind will do and mind

has been around forever what I’m gonna

do is something different and the way I

get out of suffering I gave myself a 90

second rule it’s really simple

I say look if I feel myself start to

feel that stress feeling that pissed off

this or upsetness or concern or worry

but my kid whatever I realize that’s not

gonna make it better life’s too short to

suffer and then I just kind of breathe

slowly slow everything down and I just

watch the I go by

that crazy buddies that crazy

thought so every said I thought I’m

gonna kill that side of it try anything

you don’t kill him could you don’t

believe that bought it’s the thoughts

that are stressful that you believe that

mess you up when you question them you

break the pattern the more Aventis like

a muscle the more I’ve trained myself to

do it I can authentically tell you now

it takes a lot for something to take

more than 90 seconds for me now and the

level of joy surpasses all the money you

could ever have in a million years and

then the money it’s easier to even make

money because you’re not attached you

don’t have the fears you don’t have the

scarcity that people have because you

feel so rich already right now I always

some people don’t wait to be rich

what is that richest it’s abundance it’s

joy it’s happiness it’s contribution

it’s getting out of yourself because as

long as we’re thinking about oh my god I

lost something or you did something I

have less love less respect less money

if I think lost less or because you did

something or because I did something I’m

never gonna have what I wanted my life

lost less than ever those three thought

patterns they’re the source of all

suffering and the after don’t see it for

what it really is

no it’s BS and find something to

appreciate failures are not the most

terrible things whether you have to

learn from it and react to it yeah

exactly when you’re building something

new there’s going to be mistakes and

it’s important to to recognize those

mistakes acknowledge them and take

corrective action yeah and the

successful company is very much more

about how quick are you to fix the

mistakes not will you make mistakes or

admit mistakes absolutely yeah and if

you see the difference between a

start-up that is successful in one that

is not and it’s because the successful

one they’re both made mistakes but the

successful one recognize the mistakes

fix them very quickly and the the

unsuccessful one tries to deny that the

mistakes exist you know extremely smart

people are sometimes quite arrogant

because they believe in what they

believe in right and so the way they

face criticism it’s less likely to admit

you know they can make mistakes was that

in your case I learnt it when I was

doing when I studying physics the the

you know in physics you’re taught to

always question yourself you’re taught

to always assume that you’re wrong not

to seem that you’re right and you have

to prove yourself not

not wrong and so I think that that that

physics framework is really where where

I learnt it and it’s very effective for

wonderful learning counterintuitive

things that aren’t obvious mm-hmm so you

are very famous in saying that failure

is actually an option and if you’re not

failing like that means you’re not you

know they do it yeah it’s not like I

like failure and you’re like Billy was

terrible but if you only do things that

are certain to succeed then you’re only

gonna be doing very obvious things the

only reason you keep seeing there isn’t

as you feel so exhausted about where you

are but life the universe or God is just

testing you because there is another

level if this is good

giant jump to excellence Giants start

good poor to good to excellence there’s

a level where all your dreams are

realized there’s a level that you’ve

always dreamed that it is real it has

not gone away but it takes that extra

burst when you think there’s nothing

left there’s no way you’ve tried

everything ten million times and you

keep going it’s almost like God is

saying if you keep hitting this wall

enough times I will see that you will

not stop that you were filled with that

level of determination faith and courage

and then the door opens and you get to

that next level but most people don’t

know is the next level is just and it’s

called outstanding gentlemen outstanding

what’s it called what’s it called what’s

it called outstanding magnificent

unstoppable extraordinary not excellent

it’s a different level it’s a level

where you are not one of the best you

are the best you know what’s amazing you

only have to be two millions more than

everybody else and you get everything

you get the joy the laughter the father

the family

the passion the economics the freedom of

spirit it’s all there what Jerry Maguire

called the quad baby all of it and it’s

just to milanese above and most

excellent people give up because they’re

exhausted and there’s some people go the

harder I hit it the more I hit it sooner

or later it’s going down I’m not

stopping and when you do that enough it

pops open just keep going find that

thing you love because it’s tough work

and my father gave me this advice when I

said I wanted to be an actor he said

have a back-up profession like welding

but I think if you can find that thing

that really gives you joy that’ll be it

because for me it’s always been comedy

and stand-up and enacting too because of

exploring behavior but it’s tough work

but and if you can get it even better

well I think it’s important to have a

very to apply critical thinking to may

sound trite but to apply critical

critical thinking to what what one is

doing and by that I mean just the

fundamentals of logic you know of do you

have the right axioms are they relevant

and are you making the right conclusions

based on those on those axioms that

that’s the essence of critical thinking

and yet it is amazing how often people

fail to do that I think wishful thinking

is innate in the human brain you you

want things to be the way you you wish

them to be in so you tend to filter

information that you shouldn’t filter

seize the day winning isn’t everything

it’s the only thing do not wait for your

ship to come in swim out to it when the

going gets tough the tough get going you

miss on our percent of the shots you

know take if you can dream it you can do

it wherever you go go with all your

heart if man has done its best what else

is there success is going from failure

to fair without losing your enthusiasm

for you don’t succeed try try again

genius is 1% inspiration 99%

perspiration I think I can I think I can

I think I can there’s no substitute for

hard work willing is not enough we must

do live the life you imagine do or do

not there is no try

action is a foundational key to all

success discouragement fair the two of

the share of stepping-stone success that

yours not to dream less but your dream

more dream a all the time we don’t know

where to go and you will wind up

somewhere else just do it some pretty

motivational quotes from some pretty

inspirational people including Lombardi

Proust and the little engine that could

I heard those quotes growing up all the

time when I first heard something I

memorized him others I wrote down but

not one of them motivated me for more

than a day or two it was a much less

inspirational quote that inspired me

from a much less famous person it was a

doctor at UCLA he said Steve you’ve got

inoperable tumors all over your liver

worst case scenario you have five years

do your running you’re CEO of two

companies you’re chairman of SolarCity

talk about time management how on earth

do you do this well you get any sleep

sometimes not enough sleep it’s really

great because because if you find if I

don’t get enough sleep then I’m I’m

quite grumpy I mean obviously I think

most people that way and and and also I

can try to sort of figure out what’s the

right amount of sleep because I I

thought I could have though I could drop

below a certain threshold of sleep and

although I’d be awake for hours and I

could sustain it I would get less done

because I’m mental acuity would be

affected so I found generally the right

number for me is around six to six and a

half hours on average per night that’s

not too bad yeah and any other tips on

average that any other tips on just

managing to run two companies

simultaneously I mean do you do you find

I mean I know you’re up here on Monday

Tuesday is it all Tesla when you’re up

in Silicon Valley and all SpaceX

Wednesday Thursday it’s having a service

of s having a smartphone is incredibly

helpful because that means you can do

email during interstitial periods like

you’re in a car you’re walking in the

bathroom everywhere you can do email

practically when you’re awake and and so

that’s really helpful to have email for

SpaceX and Tesla integrated on my phone

and then it’s just you have to apply a

lot of hours to actual working actually

working so the way I generally do it is

I’ll be working at SpaceX on Monday and

then Monday night fly to the area spent

Tuesday and Wednesday at the barrier

then at Tesla and then fly back on

Wednesday night it’s been Thursday and

Friday at SpaceX in the last several

months then I would fly back here on a

Saturday and either spend Saturday and

Sunday at Tesla or spend Saturday at

Tesla Sunday at SpaceX and where did the

boys fit in you have five sons yeah did

he tag along with dad on some of these

boots I do drag him along and a lot of

things actually they’re remarkably

unimpressed by one of the I think most

common questions I hear young people and

bishops young people ask is I want to be

the next to Gila musk how do I do that

obviously the next Elon Musk will work

on very different things then and you

did but what have you done or what did

you do when you were younger that you

think sort of set you up to have a big


well I think this one should say that I

do not expect to be involved in all

these things so the the the the five

things that I thought about the time in

college quite a long time ago 25 years

ago you know being you know making life

multiplanetary slowly accelerating the

transition to sustainable energy the the

internet broadly speaking and and then

genetics and AI I think I didn’t expect

to be involved in it in all of those

things I actually at the time in college

I sort of thought helping with

electrification a bit of cars was how we

start out and that’s that’s actually

what I worked on as an intern was an

advanced ultracapacitors with to see

think there would be a breakthrough

relative to batteries for energy storage

and in cars

and then when I came out to go to

Stanford that’s what I was going to be

doing my grad studies on is it was

working on her best at energy storage

technologies for electric cars and I put

that on hold to start an Internet

company hit in 95 because the bit there

doesn’t seem to be like a time for

particular technologies when they were

at a steep point in the inflection code

and and I didn’t want to you know do a

PhD at Stanford and then and what should

will happen and then and I wasn’t

entirely certain that the technology I’d

be working on would actually succeed I

can get you can get a you know doctrine

on many things that ultimately are not

do not have a practical bearing on the

world and I wanted to you know just I

really was just trying to be useful

that’s the optimization I was like what

are what can I do that would actually be

useful do you think people that want to

be useful today should get PhDs um

mostly not so what is the best some yes

but mostly not how should someone figure

out how they can be most useful or

whatever this thing is that you’re

trying to create what would what would

be the utility Delta compared to the

current state-of-the-art times how many

people it would affect so that’s why I

think having something that has a that’s

that has a makes makes a big difference

but effects a sort of small to moderate

number of people is great as is

something that makes Eve even a small

difference but but affects a vast number

of people like the area yeah on you know

under the yeah exactly the area under

the curve is would actually be roughly

similar for those two things so it’s

actually really about yeah just trying

to be useful and manner when you’re

trying to estimate probability of

success so you say something will be

really useful then area under the curve

I guess to use the example of SpaceX

mmm-hmm when you made the go decision

that you’re actually gonna do that this

was kind of a very crazy thing at the

time very crazy there Rosie yeah I’m not

shy about saying that but I kind of

regret I agreed with them that it was

quite crazy crazy if

if the objective was to achieve the best

risk-adjusted return starting our

company is insane but that was not that

was not my objective I cancer I was

dying but I got more bad news you are

all dying – maybe not from cancer maybe

but I basically just given you all the

same diagnosis I was given

your time is limited and that’s a real

we say that discipline is the loop of

all good qualities but you have to

absolutely apply it to things outside of

just waking up early it’s it’s

everything it’s working now every day

making yourself stronger and faster and

more flexible and healthier discipline

is eating the right foods to fuel your

system it it’s about disciplining your

emotions so you can make good decisions

it’s about having the discipline to

control your ego so your ego doesn’t get

out of hand and control you it’s about

treating people the way you would want

to be treated and and doing the tasks

that you don’t necessarily want to do

but that you know will help you or help

your team it’s about facing your fears

takes discipline to face your fears so

you can conquer them and that’s what

discipline is discipline means taking

the hard road the uphill road to do

what’s right for yourself and for other

it’s so often the easy path the easy

path that calls to us to be weak for

that moment to break down for that

moment to give in to the desire and the

short-term gratification but the

discipline will not allow that the

discipline calls for strength and

fortitude and will it won’t accept

weakness it won’t tolerate another

breakdown the discipline can seem like

discipline is your best friend it will

take care of you like nothing else can

and it’ll put you on that path the path

to strength and health and intelligence

and happiness and most importantly it’ll

right everyone has different models of

the world some people are driven by

money some people aren’t but I will say

there I think there’s three things that

will quote motivate somebody right

there’s push motivation trying to make

somebody do something and then there’s

pull another one’s incentives incentives

are fantastic for certain people it

everybody appreciates them but the

problem with an incentive is there’s

only so much you can give out of the

margin of the business the most powerful

incentive by now is autonomy and growth

the sense that I’ve become more that I

can give more that can create more I

always say people you know if you want

to know where happiness comes and give

to you in one word progress progress

equals happiness we’re not supposed to

sit at the table of success and just

feel good about ourselves forever

what makes us feel alive is growing and

when we grow we have something to give

people have large meters today I do you

do and we tend to think it’s all bull

but there are patterns that control the

way you think and feel and think about

it whether you’re performing in sports

or whether it’s government or whether

it’s you know in the financial markets

or whether it’s in your relationship as

much as we want to think it’s just the

way we think our emotions play a huge

role in our performance or lack thereof

and I know how to help people make a

an academic tradition called the last

lecture hypothetically if you knew

you’re gonna die and you had one last

lecture what would you say to your

students well for me there’s an elephant

in the room and the elephant in the room

is that for me it wasn’t hypothetical

I’ve been fighting pancreatic cancer it

has now come back after surgery

chemotherapy and radiation and the

doctors tell me there’s nothing more to

do and I have months to live these are

my most recent CT scans the pancreatic

cancer has spread to my liver they’re

approximately a dozen tumors I don’t

like this I have three little kids let’s

be clear this stinks but I can’t do

anything about the fact that I’m going

to die I’m pursuing medical treatments

but I pretty much know how this movie’s

going to end and I can’t control the

cards I’m dealt just how I play the hand

but I don’t choose to be an object of

pity Jackie Robinson first black major

leaguer had it in his contract not to

complain if people spit on him all right

now I don’t care if you’re Jackie

Robinson or if you’re a guy like me

who’s only got a couple of months to

live you can choose to take your finite

time and energy and effort and you can

spend it complaining or you can spend it

playing the game hard the brick walls

that are in our way are there for a

reason they are not there to keep us out

the talk isn’t just about how to achieve

your childhood dreams it’s much broader

than that it’s about how to live your

life because if you lead your life the

right way the Karma will take care of

itself the dreams will come to you if

you live properly the dreams will come

to you I think it’s great that so many

people have benefited from this lecture

but the truth of the matter is that I

didn’t even really give it to the 400

people at Carnegie Mellon who came I

only wrote this lecture for three people

and when they’re older they will watch

it thank you


how to stop the laziness and they will

know how to stop the procrastination and

you know they have some idea in their

head you know some kind of a vision what

they want to do but they don’t know

where to start they didn’t order start

it you know they don’t know where to

start and say they say hey where do I


and and when’s the best time to start

and I have a very simple answer for that

year and now that’s it you you want to

improve you want to get better you want

to get on a workout program or a clean

diet you want to start a business you

want to write a book or make a movie or

build a house or a computer or put

together some mobile application where

you start right here and when you start

you start right now you initiate the

action aggressively you go because the

idea isn’t gonna execute itself and the

book isn’t gonna write itself and the

weights out in the gym they’re not gonna

move themselves you have to do it and

you have to do it now and that means you

gotta stop thinking about it and stop

dreaming about it and stop researching

every aspect of it and reading all about

it and debating the pros and cons of it

just start doing it take that first step

and make it happen get after it and get

after it

here and now


some day isn’t on the calendar

Friday Saturday Sunday that’s on there

about four times a month no someday but

when it comes to our dreams it’s

probably the busiest day of the week is

some day right so learning that lesson I

just try it decided that I was gonna

refocus my attention back on that tree I

was gonna pull out all the stops and I

gave myself a goal of getting on

Letterman within one year I was gonna

make someday happen I started yelling my

dream to anyone who would listen started

calling in every favor I was owed I

found out everyone who worked on the

show and begged them to help me get an

audition I even started asking people at

comedy clubs after they’d see me to

email the show and beg Dave to book me

and guess what I didn’t make it

my ironically named deadline came and

went but I was so renewed about my dream

and my newfound passion for it I decide

to give myself an extension one more

year to get on letter didn’t happen and

then another nope

sounds like bad news right well it was I

would have loved to get on the show in

that first year but something great

happened over there those years those

three years where it spent dying

they were spent living living a dream

and let me tell you there is something

if you’ve ever chased a dream you know

that it lights a fire in your heart the

whether you reach it or not it warms

everyone around you and everything

around you so I decided you know what

I’m gonna keep going because that dream

is so important you can’t wait can’t

wait for some day to happen you need to

make things you need to make things go

out wouldn’t the world be a better place

if if we’re all inspired if the world

wasn’t full of uninspired people I know

person’s strengths are often their

biggest weaknesses and so that also

means that their weaknesses can be their

strengths so

me I am weak in all those ways that I

listed I am weak but I don’t accept that

I don’t accept that I am what I am and

that that is what I’m doomed to be no I

don’t accept that I’m fighting I’m

always fighting I’m struggling and I’m

scrapping and I’m kicking and clawing at

those weaknesses to change them stop

them some days I win some days I don’t

but each and every day I get back up and

I move forward with my fists clenched

toward the battle toward the struggle

and I fight with everything I’ve got to

overcome those weaknesses and those

shortfalls and those flaws as I strive

than I was yesterday why do people stop

chasing their dreams I don’t think

people choose to be uninspired Jeanne

one of the people helping me with my

TEDx experience I actually asked me that

she said Steve why do you think people

stop chasing their dreams everyone wants

to achieve them why do people leave them


it was a tough question to answer I

wanted to give her an honest answer had

some cliche response or motivational

line so I thought about it for a long

I knew that cancer

it motivated me to pick my dream up

again but why did I stop chasing it in

the first place why does anyone stop

well when the answer came to me was hard

to swallow let alone spit out and say it

loud but I told her we’re all taught

that life is tough life’s a bitch life

is hard but it’s not it’s pretty easy

right it’s pretty easy to skate by and

go through life right we wake up every

day most of us in the world but the roof

over our heads a big comfy bed under our

butts fridge full of food most of us in

the world especially here in America

never have to worry about starvation or

homelessness we have friends and family

that will help us out when those things

come those are the things that made life

dangerous a hundred years ago now we

complain if life isn’t convenient this

isn’t a statement on modern society this

is a statement about motivation life is

it’s pretty easy to grow up put your

dreams aside leave your passions behind

take a job that you read you don’t even

really mind raise some kids who will

most likely be inspired to do the exact

same thing go from point A to point B to

Point C until you end up at point Z

where you pass away and there’s a line

of people waiting to get up and tell

everyone else who knew you what a good

life you had nothing bad about that

nothing wrong with that but nothing

great about it nothing inspiring about

that the awful truth is is that life is

easy living truly living chasing a dream

and truly living is hard living is a

bitch living it’s tough especially when

you switch it and you ask yourself what

am i dying to do what is it that puts

that fire in my heart answering that

question is at the end of that’s really

just the spark once you get that fire

burning you need to feed it

need to keep reminding yourself putting

new coals in there and remind yourself

every day about that caucuses we’ve all

taken up a hobby or a goal or a workout

that we stopped for just a couple days

and then we never pick it up again you

need to constantly remind yourself that

you’re dying and that you’re dying to do

something because the minute you forget

life creeps right back in and life is

easy anything you try to do in America

today you got to be excited people

America won’t follow or believe in a

negative dull disillusioned frustrated

dadgum crybaby people want people that

are positive and excited and

enthusiastic and tough the greatest

lesson the greatest definition I ever

heard I thought about this 10,000,000

times when I wanted to quit along the

way of a winner this guy said almost

everybody in America can stay excited

for two or three months a few people can

stay excited for two or three years but

a winter a stay excited for thirty years

or how long it takes to win she told me

a story about her dad talking to her

about love when she was younger and her

dad told her don’t look at love as an as

an object not a thing that’s something

to obtain not a noun

look it is a verb

it’s something to do something to act on

it’s not something to constantly give

action to I love that story

and I think a dream works exactly the

same way it’s easy to look at a dream as

something way off in the distance

something that might or might not be

accomplished a thing an object a goal a

thought that runs through our mind every

now and then a noun but dream is also a

verb has to be lived it has to be done

has to be further – has to be acted

about it needs to be chased it’s not

just a idea or a result to dream

encompasses every step that it takes to

get there I told you about my dream I

didn’t reach my i Letterman dream by my

deadline or my extended deadline

nope it took me five years five years of

five of the years of living for that

dream and I was very lucky

by tumors here in that time they didn’t

grow I stayed healthy but I had that

wake-up call and I’m giving you all the

same wake-up call

we’re all dying but if you’re not

everyone has a problem with time but the

day is 24 hours and we sleep six I know

there’s some out there that say I need

eight well I say just sleep a little

faster because the bottom line is we

have six hours of sleep 24 hours are

available so if 18 hours now available

to you Brooke your family your hobbies

and also to learn something new or to do

something new which could easily be that

you want to learn a new language or that

you want to read as a New Year’s

resolution I have to read a book every

week or where you say I’m gonna go and

reshape my party so you’re gonna go and

take this hour out of your schedule and

say I’m gonna train an hour every day so

this is for most people a huge challenge

but it is totally doable I can tell them

because the kind of things that I did

when I came to this country I mean I

went to school I was working in

construction I was working out my five

hours a day I was taking acting classes

from 8 o’clock at night to 12 midnight I

was doing all of those things I wanted

to make sure that out of the 24 hours of

the day that I don’t waste one single

hour those hours were too precious and

so they just want to tell people don’t

give me this thing I have a difficult

time with the time and I don’t have time

for this none of that you have time you

make the time if you want to win folks

you got it you got to stand up and you

got to say I’m so sick and tired

to be an average and ordinary I’m so

sick and tired of telling myself and

telling my wife and telling my mama and

telling everybody I’m gonna win I found

it this time watch my slow see folks if

you go win you go change but if you

don’t know the answer don’t go to sleep

tonight without answering that question

don’t wait till someday to answer that

question there’s nothing more important

in your life than figuring that out when

you do figure it out then when you go to

sleep just sleep like a kid again

because then you’ll be going to sleep

not to dream but with a dream and waking

up with one thank you sweet dreams

the only way you can change life the

only way the future can be better than

the past is you gotta cheat nobody can

change for you okay nobody’s gonna give

you something for nothing it’s gonna be

up to you you’re controlling your future

and if you don’t change just look in the

dadgum mirror look at the last five to

ten years of your life and the next five

or ten years gonna be just like that

ain’t that depressing experiencing a

pain in your muscles and aching and just

think oh on and go on and then go on and

this last two or three or four

repetitions that’s what makes actually

the muscle then grow and that’s it

divides then one from a champion and one

from not being a champion if you can’t

go through this pain period you make it

to be a champion if you can’t go through

forget it and that’s for most people

luck is on this having the guts the guts

to go in and just say I go through and I

don’t care what happens you know it

aches and if I fall down I have no fear

of fainting in a gym because I know it’s

it could happen I threw up many times

father was working out but it doesn’t

matter because it’s all worth it

another key to building this winning

edge in this mental toughness is you’ve

got to become a dreamer

again you’re not a Methodist so we just

changed ministers a few weeks ago and

our new minister came in and and the

church was just packed and the first

thing he said he says well looks like

everybody came out to see the monkey

perform and the second and second thing

out of his mouth he said for church to

be a great church you got to have a

dream if you don’t have a dream you’re


and boy I sat up and I said man me and

this guy gonna get along good cuz he

knows what he’s talking about see folks

I believe in order to win you got to

feel good about yourself I I was

coaching football for seven years back

in Georgia and I had a paddle in my

coaching office and it’s about this

thick and this long and in the fatty and

I had little holes board in it so you

could really get some speed and bliss to

the little but you know when they

misbehaved and

a rule on my football team that if any

kids said I can’t if any football player

hurt I’ve heard one of my football

players said I can she got to bring him

in the coach’s office and give him three

legs and it took me about a month to get

all that thinking out of my players

every year you know and I’d have

football players knock on my door at

recess and at lunch and after school and

he said coach he said it coach he said

it and I’d make that kid bend over and

I’d give that other kid the board hit

bust him three times and folks it didn’t

take long you couldn’t create a word

game to get one of my semi kids to say I

can’t bring it home a little bit more

personal in April a little art where

we’re just this little and could

understand words every time they said I

can’t I made them do three push-ups

folks there ain’t nothing you can’t do

in America if you want too bad nah stop

doing the things that you know are wrong

that you could stop doing right so it’s

it’s a fairly it’s a fairly limited

attempt first of all we’re not going to

say that you know what the good is or

what the truth is in any ultimate sense

but we will presume that there are

things that you’re doing that for one

reason or other you know are not in your

best interests there’s something about

them that you just know you should stop

they’re kind of self evident to you

other things you’re gonna be doubtful it

about you’re not gonna know which way is

up and which way is down but there are

things that you’re doing that you know

you shouldn’t do now some of those you

won’t stop doing for whatever reason you

don’t have the discipline or maybe

there’s a secondary payoff or you don’t

believe it’s necessary or it’s too much

of a sacrifice or you’re angry or

resentful or or afraid who knows

so forget about those for now but

there’s another subset that you could

stop doing it might be little thing well

that’s fine stop doing it and see what

happens and what will happen is your

vision will clear a little bit and then

something else will pop up in your field

of apprehension that you will also know

you should stop doing and that you could

stop doing because you’ve strengthened

yourself a bit by stopping doing the

particulars stupid thing that you were

doing before that just puts you together

a little bit more and you could do that

repeatedly for for an indefinite period

of time and and

you know that doesn’t necessarily mean

that you’re going to ever be able to

formulate a clear and final picture of

what constitutes the truth and the good

but it does mean that you’ll be able to

continually move away from what’s

untruth and what’s bad leave desire and

will to win is everything I don’t know

why I’m like I am but my butt’s always

burning there’s always something say art

dadgummit you’re supposed to go for it

art dadgummit you’re supposed to be

somebody you’re supposed to make a

difference with you lie what does the

$500,000 your person do the $50,000 your

person doesn’t do you looking outside

and study those two individuals

everything seems to be the same they

both are the same sex they both are the

same age and have the same training the

same positions the same contract the

same fringe benefits

they both are successful they work hard

they’re good family people make tough

commitments but what’s the difference

what does the $500,000 your person do

the $50,000 your person doesn’t do he

pays the price and a little bit more he

works hard and a little bit more he’s

loyal to the company a little bit more

he believes and a little bit more he

makes Maine a little bit more he saves

money a little bit more if you want to

win in these United States you got to be

tough and you can’t quit the last thing

I’ll talk to you about today in building

this winning edge is folks if you want

to win in business you’ve got to be a

leader leadership is everything you show

me anything in these United States that

win I’ll show you a leader at work you

show me a successful church Boy Scout

Troop club football team business I’ll

show you some a run by leader see see I

thought at one time in my life you had

to be smart to win I used to have these

smart people that dress so pretty and

talk so pretty and use these big words

they just intimidated me and I said

aren’t you can’t ever be that good why

don’t you just throw in the towel and go

on back coach football for living and I

found two things out about smart people

I think it’s almost impossible for a

smart person to win in business in

America today because I find smart

people spend their whole lifetime

figuring things out they always trying

to figure

got an easier way in a quicker way and

another thing I found out about smart

people as they just don’t get around to

doing nothing they see somebody like art

Williams everybody says well he can’t do

it and somebody like that can’t do it

but he does it see folks I want you to

know almost everybody in America almost

does enough to win they almost get there

they almost are over the hump they

almost have it going

they almost in everything they do almost

as a way of life to almost everybody in

America but the winners do it what do

they do they do whatever it takes to get

the job done they do it and do it and do

it and do it and do it until the job

gets done and then they talk about how

great it is to be somebody they’re proud

of we need leaders in America who can do

it if you want to become somebody do it

if you want to go and finish for

yourself do it if you want to become

financially independent do it I hear too

much talk in these United States

everybody can talk a good game we need

people in America who can do it I go all

over this country with Al weaves and I

have people say aren’t you you count on


wonderful just do it all right I

guarantee this is my light last stop I’m

gonna win now

SuperDuper just do it all right if I

could just have one good month and get

the ball going I know I could make it

big super just do it all right if I

could just pay off this debt I could

really go great just do it my heart if I

could just say on my house do it but how

is he selling do it anyway

I’m not making any money what can I do

you just do it

let do what art you do it and do it and

do it all right I can’t you imma win

this contest

SuperDuper just do it I’m over the hump

now watch my smoke grades just do it

hard I want to make it so bad I’m

tasting what I do you just do it all

right I’m a vice president now can I

quit doing it no all right I don’t know

if I keep on keeping on I’m really hurt

what I do you just do it do what art you

do it and do it and do it all right all

my life I want to be somebody important

well what do it then all right I’m gonna

save money so I don’t have to go through

this again great Hey

just do it all right I don’t feel like

I’ve had enough training what’d I do you

just do it all right my manager don’t

give me no help what I do you just do it

my horse you don’t understand I was mr.

everything in my former company you

don’t mean I I have to start off down at

the bottom and do it do you yep you

really got to do it hard what’s the

primary difference between winners and

losers the winner the winners do it they

do it and do it and do it and do it

until the job gets done and then they

talk about how great it is to finally

have achieved something unique and how

glad they are that they didn’t quit like

everybody else and how wonderful it is

to finally be somebody they’re proud of and make a difference with their life

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