Are you motivated by fear or desire?

"I feel like as a human being you're either motivated by fear or desire. I feel like the truly great people are motivated by desire because they want something and they go for it, whereas I was more motivated by the fear of being left behind."-A.D.Miles, Head Writer at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

This quote jumped out at me while I was listening to podcasts the other day, and not just because I was mowing the lawn of a rented house so that our neighbors across the street would talk to us again. I think this insight actually goes a long way towards explaining success and failure.

Fear is a powerful motivator, but it motivates practical, fast solutions. Fear is what lands people in jobs that they don't like in order to be sure that bills can be paid. Fear leads to boring haircuts and sensible family sedans. Fear leads to security.

Desire is much more powerful. Desire means working harder to do incredible things. It's what seperates working stiffs from entrepreneurs. Well, that and wealthy parents. Desire is about pushing and defining, about being first, and probably a lot about risk in the name of a bigger payoff.

Desire is also at the heart of nerd behavior. It's how that kid down the streat had every Monty Python episode cataloged and stored on a tape drive in 1996, even though he didn't need it because he knew all of the words to every sketch. It's how that other kid with all of those comic books knew how to draw Spawn better than the guy that drew Spawn. It's that guy that played Goldeneye so much that he knew where all of the respawning points were, and the order in which his victims would cycle through those points. 

I oscillate between the two mindsets, and I can definitely look back and tie the best things I've done with a desire motivation, and the less stellar with a fear motivation. This is why I'm really good at the drums, why I majored in incredibly boring stuff in college, and then rallied to get one of the coolest jobs around. It all makes sense when I look back on it and put it in this perspective, and maybe I can put this all to use moving forward. Maybe the difference between good and great is how you keep yourself motivated. Or maybe it's all just come down to how big of a nerd you are.