October 4, 2021

It Became Personal With Me

You can use anger to motivate yourself - but maybe you shouldn't.

In The Last Dance - the documentary about Michael Jordan and his world-beating bulls team, the phrase "It became personal with me" became a meme. Throughout the documentary, MJ talks about really minor things that opposing players and teams did - like not saying hi to him in a restaurant - and how it fueled him. And it worked! MJ is, in the opinion of most, the greatest basketball player to have ever lived. And it doesn't just work for Michael Jordan. Many people have made themselves into millionaires because they needed to prove their doubters wrong. Many people have got into the best shape of their lives because they needed to get a "revenge body" after being dumped.

But here's the thing. Anger can certainly be used as fuel, but it's toxic fuel. If anger is what drives you and what motivates you, yes you may achieve your goals, but you may well experience some unpleasant side effects along the way. And what happens when that initial anger runs out? You need to generate more to keep that motivation going. The Last Dance is the perfect example of this. Since MJ needed anger to motivate him, he kept needing to find reasons to be angry at his opponents, and those reasons became more and more trivial as time went on.

Inspired by: The Daily Stoic - Ryan Holiday