Below is a conversation with my college-bound little brother.
Little Brother: I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I feel so lazy. I just don’t want to do anything.
Roosh: Can you give me an example of when you were recently lazy?
LB: I went to the gym the other day, and when I arrived, I just didn’t want to lift. So I worked out very slowly and talked to the guys instead.
R: This is a common problem, because lifting is hard. Your body wants to conserve its energy so it decides that the better option is just to do nothing. Let me ask you something: what makes an excellent man?
R: Motivation to do what?
LB: To do the work.
R: Remember a while back we had a conversation about the unit of one hour, where you can break down the greatness or accomplishments of a man in one-hour increments?
LB: I remember.
R: When you look at an athlete, you see a man with a strong body who has the right skills to do his sport. But what you don’t see is the hours of work he put behind it. When you see a successful businessman, you see the big company he built up and maybe his fancy car, but you don’t see the hundreds of hours he worked to build up the business. I’m learning Russian now, and have gotten compliments on it, but the people who compliment me do not see my daily struggle with it, the hours I put in every day just to learn a few new words. Any kind of excellency or greatness you see in other men comes down to the work they put in. Therefore, excellency is work. Can you see that?
R: Now when you were at the gym, and you decided not to work, would you say that was the decision of a normal man or an excellent man?
LB: Normal man.
R: Correct, a normal man will take the path of least resistance that does not involve work. What percentage of the population would you say is normal?
R: I would say 99.5% of the population is normal, maybe even higher. They are sheep who follow, who prefer to stay in the herd, who like being told what to do to spare them the expense of thinking or taking risks, who seek entertainment over work, who are not in control of their emotions, and who lack willpower. They want glory and riches from not putting in effort, from not going above and beyond what they were told to do by their teacher, parents, or boss. They do the bare minimum in life and so they have a normal life that all the other people have. They have their iPhone, their entertainment, they surf the internet all day to feel some emotional pleasure, and they go to the club on the weekends to get drunk and maybe get laid. This is the life of a sheep.
LB: Is that bad? Is it bad to be normal?
R: It’s not bad. There is nothing wrong with being a sheep, and most people don’t have the genetic constitution to be anything else, but it’s not what I wanted to be. When I was faced with forks in the road, one leading back to the herd and one leading into the unknown, often involving much risk, almost every time I’ve picked the road that took me away from the herd. I’m not saying I’m an excellent man right now, but I want to be an excellent man, so I must do the work that it takes to be one, one hour at a time, one workout at a time, one Russian word at a time. This means avoiding comfort, luxury, entertainment, and mindless distraction. This means straining my mind and body, because as you know, your muscles only get bigger when you lift to your limit. If in my studies or work my brain is not tired, I did not work hard enough.
LB: But I don’t have the motivation. Like at the gym, it’s so much easier when I have a friend to push me to work out. And now I’m busy with school. If I didn’t have school, I would have the energy to do all these things.
R: Remember when you visited me in Odessa last year? I had to drag you every day just to go to boxing training. You didn’t have school or any other responsibilities, but you still didn’t want to do it. Is it possible you are using school as an excuse?
LB: It’s possible.
R: There is often something in life that keeps you busy, such as school or work obligations, but in spite of that, you must have the desire within you to fight off the fatigue and laziness to make that decision to be an excellent man. What you’re looking for is external motivation, something in your environment that will push you to do something that you should do. But external motivation is fleeting. One day it’s present and the next day it’s not. You can go to the best motivational seminar in the world, and pay thousands of dollars to do so, like many adults do, but after two weeks you’ll be lazy again and revert to your old habits. You’ll work out when your friend is present, but how about if he moves to a new town? Then you won’t work out anymore?
External motivation is only temporary, like getting energy from a cup of coffee. Only internal motivation to be excellent will push you to do the work every day, every week, every month, every year. You will not need any external motivation if you know that you want to be an excellent man, but if you don’t choose excellency, you will be like a sailboat with no sail, no direction, allowing everything in your environment to whip you this way or that. Sometimes you’ll be motivated and sometimes you won’t, sometimes you’ll do the work and sometimes you won’t.
LB: But it is helpful when my friend calls me to go to the gym. I work out harder.
R: I believe it, but let’s view things from your friend’s perspective. He is internally motivated to be strong and fit, so he goes to the gym alone, but here you come, a friend who admits he’s lazy and needs his encouragement and motivation. He’s giving you a finite resource, his energy, to help you out. In other words, you are holding him down! If I was his brother, I’d say, “Hey man, your friend is a bum, he doesn’t want to work. Find friends who have internal motivation, who lift you up.” Can you see that?
LB: I didn’t think of that way.
R: Look, I’m not saying you’re a bad kid, but those who are not internally motivated drag down those who are. If someone wants, I can be their motivation coach, but I should get paid for that, because it takes away my energy and time and prevents me from doing other work. I’ve known guys who just want to socialize, who aren’t hard workers, and don’t mind disturbing my work in order to just hang out. I don’t mind hanging out every now and then, but they don’t care if I don’t finish my new book or my language studies. So I have to say no to those guys, and spend time only with those who are as internally motivated as myself to be excellent.
LB: How do I become internally motivated?
R: Do you want to be an excellent man? If you want to be a normal sheep, then keep doing what you’re doing. There is nothing wrong with it, and my love for you as a brother would not change, but you will have a standard issue life—neither extraordinary nor horrible—if you continue to choose comfort and laziness over work. When you’re faced with two options, where one involves work and discomfort and the other involves comfort and relaxation, you are making the choice between being excellent and being a sheep. When you decided at the gym the other day not to work out hard, what decision did you make?
LB: To be a sheep.
R: Right. It was the easy decision for you, because being a sheep is easy and being excellent is hard, but I can not make you excellent because being excellent is a personal decision. Understand that excellency is not one big event or one lucky break, but hundreds of tiny decisions. Being excellent is your daily habits, the extra one or two hours of work you put in every day, that when accumulated over many years, makes you excellent. The books I’ve written come from only one or two hours of focus a day. I’ve built a living doing this over the past several years, and it has given me my freedom and independence to live anywhere in the world, but it was difficult to do these two hours of work a day.
One hour of extra work a day is just too much for 99.5% of people, so they will not do it, because they never made the choice to be excellent. Why would they choose work over entertainment if they didn’t choose to be an excellent man? Excellency is not flashy or exciting—it’s the tedious, boring, and hard work you do every day. Three workouts a week over many years will make you a strong man. One hour of hard reading a day will strengthen your mind. One hour of your own work can be the start of a business. Do you see how that works?
LB: I do.
R: You’re still young, so I’m not saying don’t have fun with your friends or don’t play video games, but just keep in mind what it takes to be excellent. If there isn’t an excellent seed within you right now that is begging for water and soil, then it’s possible you are destined to be a sheep. But if there is that seed, it’s my job as a big brother to tell you how much water it needs and what kind of soil it needs to grow. Long ago I looked into the mirror and decided that I wanted to be an excellent man, so every day I put in the work, because like I said before, excellency is work. If you also want to be excellent, you now know what it takes. The only thing that can stop you is yourself.
This article was originally published on Roosh V.