Does Your Motivation Come From a Dark Place? Good…

As we close 2017 and head into a new year, we are almost becoming immune to the idea of politicians, celebrities, and athletes being involved in major scandals, particularly sexual harrassment.

As a society we hold famous people to a higher standard, but when you think about it… why should we? They’re human beings like you and me. The only difference is that they’ve achieved a level of success, fame, and wealth that most of us could never dream of. While some attribute this success to god given talent, the true reason is development of skill through insane amounts of repetition, practice, and hard work. The cynical among us may believe it’s all luck, but it is that relentless drive implemented day after day that lead these people to enormous success.

What do they have that most of us don’t?

Where does this desire come from?

Some say their passion comes from love.

I would argue the opposite. It comes from anger. It comes from spite. It comes from a bad place. When you have a chip on your shoulder, it’s not because someone was nice to you. Someone told you you can’t do something, and it lit a fire under you that resulted in the early mornings and the sleepless nights of hard work. Maybe it was a poor upbringing and the subsequent resentment of your parents throughout life. Maybe it was constant bullying or lack of interest from the opposite sex. Or maybe it’s a deep anger that can’t be attributed to just one thing.

If you sit back and compile a list of successful people involved in any sort of scandal, controversy, or brush with the law, it’s rather daunting. These aren’t just ordinary stars, it’s people at the top of their game! It took me about ten minutes and I came up with a ton of legendary figures with checkered backgrounds. I’m not talking about traffic violations here, these are major transgressions. The majority of these are sports related as that is what I know best, but take out a piece of paper and see how many you can come up with given your interests (politics, music, movies, etc.).

Tiger Woods, whom many consider the greatest golfer ever, cheated on his wife with reportedly over 100 women.

People forget how good of a player O.J. Simpson was. He rushed for over 2,000 yards in a 14 game season! Only six other men have rushed for 2,000 yards in the history of the NFL, and all of them did it after the league expanded to 16 game seasons. O.J. crossed over into television, movies, and commercials, becoming a beloved figure to the general public. He was involved in the ‘Trial of the Century’ where he was accused of brutally murdering two people.

In most sports there is a debate on who the best ever is. But there isn’t much of an argument in pro basketball, where Michael Jordan tops most peoples’ lists. Jordan was and still is a huge gambling addict. Charles Barkley once stated that Jordan would bet hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single golf game. There are wild gambling conspiracy theories about Jordan, like his father being murdered due to an unpaid debt or the notion that he left to play baseball in 1993 because he was actually suspended for gambling on NBA games.

Pete Rose, a 17 time Major League Baseball All Star, is banned from the Hall of Fame after it surfaced that he bet on baseball while managing.

Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez, two of the best hitters in baseball history, are the posterboys for the steroid scandal that plagued baseball in the early 2000’s. Bonds was the greatest player I’ve seen in any sport in my lifetime. In 2004, at age 39, Bonds was intentionally walked 120 times! He was so dominant pitchers were literally afraid to pitch to him. Any baseball fan will tell you that Bonds and A-Rod were well on their way to hall of fame careers long before the steroid allegations began to surface.

Mike Tyson lost a huge chunk of his prime boxing career after being convicted of rape and serving three years in prison. Despite this, he is widely considered to be the most dominant heavyweight of all time. I highly recommend his autobiography ‘Undisputed Truth’ for an insight into his rough upbringing. To Mike’s credit, he denies the rape allegation to this day, which is believable since he is so candid about other aspects of his life. The book also details his drug abuse and sex addiction throughout his career.

Ray Lewis was the face of one of the greatest defenses of all time, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. At a Super Bowl party, Lewis and a group of his friends got into a fight which resulted in the murders of two people. Lewis was indicted for murder but negotiated a plea agreement and served no jail time. People still ask to this day, what happened to the white suit?


Make no mistake, I’m in no way condoning this behavior. What I’m trying to do is draw a parallel between success and having ‘a dark side.’ Having a dark side isn’t a bad thing, the key is to control it. You never hear about the people who control it, who don’t act on it in a negative manner. Do the Tim Duncans, Derek Jeters, and Lebron Jameses have this edge to them? Do these charitable, yet successful people who have never had a DUI or domestic violence report lack this internal motivation fueled by rage? Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. These guys have established a reputation and don’t want that sort of thing to get out.

In a world of Instagram quotes and fake positivity, you may be questioning your intent if you’re one of these people motivated by anger. I’m telling you, don’t. Use what you have to use to achieve your goals. Be true to yourself. Now, don’t go killing your ex girlfriend and a waiter, but be true to your motivation. It’s okay to feel that way.

In my opinion, you can’t completely change who you are on the inside. That dark side will always be there. I remember an interview Mike Tyson had, I believe it was with Howard Stern, where he was asked about his mindset and attitude when he was heavyweight champion. Mike stated verbatim “I don’t even know that guy anymore” insinuating that the anger was gone. But every now and then it makes a guest appearance, as showcased here:

This is a decade after Mike last stepped in the ring. After his retirement, Tyson transformed his demeanor into a likable, charismatic, dare I say charming figure. But as you can see, that fire never completely leaves you.